Shashi Baliga

Where’s the magic, hammy Aamir?

Shashi Baliga | Updated on December 27, 2013

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The records Dhoom 3 broke at the box-office, and some more…

D hoom 3, as you may have read, has been breaking all kinds of records — biggest opening day and opening weekend collections in India, biggest international opening weekend for any Bollywood film, the fastest Rs 100 crore… and surely, some more by the time this article gets into print. But there are other records it has set that you won’t read of in the papers.

The Ham-burger Record: Here’s to the most sincerely hammy performance by an ensemble cast this year, last year and perhaps the last decade as well. If sincerity can kill, here’s the proof.

Culprit-in-chief: don’t have to tell you, it’s Aamir Khan. When the big Khan outdoes Uday Chopra in the overacting stakes, you know it’s time for some serious worry.

He has this rather indescribable facial expression that is not a scowl, not a gritting of the teeth, not a narrowing of the eyes, but a kind of intensely focused look that says, “Watch out, I’m the tough ass in this movie.” (Surely, some language somewhere must have a term for it?)

It’s a cross between his expression in Ghajini and Lagaan, and he sticks to it — come bank robbery, car chase, dance or acrobatics — for the first half of the movie. You’ll discover why in the second half, but only to have it replaced by a somewhat manic one, which doesn’t really help matters.

Abhishek Bachchan does a variation of it that goes “Hey, I’m the cool cop around these parts.” Since Abhishek hasn’t been allowed to dance, romance or swing from the circus rings in this movie (no wonder he looks so surly), his expression has no reason to change. And it doesn’t.

If you’ve seen any of the earlier Dhoom movies, you know what Uday Chopra does. Just make it more grating, asinine and annoying and you have it for Dhoom 3. As for Katrina Kaif, she does her over-chirpy number (remember Mere Brother Ki Dulhan?) but her role is mercifully short, so there’s less of it.

Even the Americans chip in, in a spirit that should be applauded in these frosty Indo-US times. The cold-hearted banker could have come from a cartoon. Come to think of it, maybe he got it right — Dhoom 3 borders on the cartoonish for the most part. Perhaps it’s us who got this movie all wrong?

The slo-mo-most record: If you can think of any movie — from anywhere in the world — that has more footage in slow motion, please let me know.

I’m afraid I did not have the foresight to take a stopwatch to this movie, and I don’t think I could survive another viewing, so I couldn’t give you exact figures.

But merely as a painful and perhaps exaggerated perception, it seemed to me that roughly half the movie was executed in slo-mo. Bikes, autorickshaws, cars, stunts, freefalls… I lost track.

It’s a good case that had the slo-mo been eliminated, the movie would have been far shorter than the 172 numbing minutes it is now.

The Never-Say-Die record: In Bollywood’s good ol’ predictable tradition, the villain dies a cringing, inglorious death, preferably on his or her knees.

Now, the Dhoom franchise is predictable but not traditional, no way. So the villains never die; or rather, they’re never shown dying.

But their downfall comes quite spectacularly. John Abraham’s Kabir rode his bike off a cliff in Dhoom. Hrithik Roshan’s Aryan fell off another cliff when he was faux shot by Aishwarya Rai’s Sunehri in Dhoom 2; the couple surfaced happily some scenes later. And, of course, you know Aamir Khan is not going to die either in Dhoom 3.

As one fellow scribe wondered nervously, will they bring all the villains together for the last of the Dhoom movies — say, Dhoom 10?

The Purab Aur Paschim record: Surely, no other actress in Bollywood has played as many NRI-girl-with-strange-accent roles as Katrina Kaif has.

Hers is a rather indefinable accent, one that is neither English nor American and definitely not Indian. But it seems to work just fine for Indian audiences and directors. Before Dhoom 3 came Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Ek Tha Tiger, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Race, New York and Namastey London to name the big ones. Next comes Bang Bang, and given that it is a remake of the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz thriller Knight And Day, the chances seem good that this role will fall into the same category too.

Is Katrina the first choice for movies set in the West or is she first choice, period? Deepika Padukone might have some views on that.

Longest-running bromance: Sholay might be the greatest, but the unbreakable bond between ACP Jai Dixit and Ali Akbar Fateh Khan is Bollywood’s longest-running bromance. And of course, it’s built around bikes; which self-respecting bromance can do without them, right?

Jai and Ali are our desi version of the Sherlock Holmes-Dr Watson, smart guy-dumbass sidekick syndrome. But now that Uday Chopra has recused himself from acting, will we see a new jodi? Not likely Yashraj and Aditya Chopra will let go of this money-spinner that easily. In short, we’re Dhoomed.

Published on December 26, 2013

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