Director: Remo D’Souza
Cast: Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Daisy Shah, Saqib Saleem
Race 3 – which becomes Lace 3 when any of its two ladies appear on screen – is an atrociously brainless movie. Even by our appallingly low standards of popular entertainment, this one takes the beefy cake. Its existence single-handedly diminishes the intellectual capacity of humankind over 160 minutes. It is made by a choreographer who thinks he is a director, and yet boasts of perhaps the worst soundtrack of all time. It has 8 music directors and 10 lyricists, one of which is Salman Khan, who I’m sure is behind the poetic depth of “nobody knows what the future holds, let’s give it our best, I found love, love, love.”
Its plot is the cinematic equivalent of a blood clot, and its box-office performance is expected to financially boost a film industry that has become the personal playground (and footpath) of its ageing superstar. Khan, lovingly known as ‘Bhai’ to his unfortunate fans, is so cocksure of his logic-defying fame that he has finally dropped all pretense as an actor and become a ventriloquist on screen – his lips are so paralyzed that his voice always appears to be coming from somewhere else (the dictionary definition: “typically from the dummy of the person or an animal”).
Let’s take a look at how hard the writers needed to work to pass off a 53-year-old ram-man as a flexible action hero. Khan plays Sikander, the adopted son of Anil Kapoor (as international arms dealer Shamsher Singh). Kapoor has a beard; Khan has an accent. Only one of them is legitimate. Kapoor is technically the only one playing his age, because even Jacqueline Fernandez, Saqib Saleem and Daisy Shah – the “youngsters” of the film who are supposed to be around 25 – actually sound like teen-aged juvenile delinquents in search of the nearest protein shake.
Khan makes his entry by jumping off a skyscraper and turning into a mechanized bat – a most inaccurate characterization, given that this is a broad-daylight film. Another time, he and heroine jump off a cliff into the clouds to escape pan-Asian villains; this cuts to them over an ocean, even higher than before, almost as if the wind blew upward because the Cambodian rainforests are too down-market a landing spot. Bobby Deol, who along with Khan can put the static faces of Mount Rushmore to shame, plays Sikander’s loyal bodyguard Yash. Saleem and Shah are Shamsher’s bro-spouting twins, perpetually jealous and “sick of Sikku”. For some reason, Shamsher is homesick for his ‘desh ki mitti’ and wants to leave everything for his kids after one last heist – only, it’s clear he is doubtful about whether his biological children can carry forward his legacy.
And because this is actually a family tale (anything starring Kapoor and Khan has to be called Kabhi Bushy Kabhie Ham) masquerading as an incompetent thriller, someone or the other is always scheming against our Sikander. Sometimes, he’s even scheming against himself, almost challenging the writers to come up with logic-defying twists that actually require him to sound like he cares. At one point, while he romances Fernandez in a faraway land, the makers try to pass off Thailand as Beijing; I’m not sure if this is just lazy cultural appropriation or blatant racism. We should be thankful that Cambodia plays itself, even if Jaisalmer is passed off as an obscure Arab island.
From the trailer itself, it was clear that Remo D’Souza’s Race 3 would be a shameful exercise in Botox-injected vanity because its hero is also the co-producer. But there’s a strange kind of smug awfulness attached to this sequel. Even though the first two installments were ridiculous, there was something infectiously silly about them – because we knew they were conceived by two small little Indian uncles dressed in pristine colour-coded whiteness in an effort to come up with bombastic ideas to out-spy James Bond. The self-seriousness, naivety and datedness were almost cute – like watching our analogue dads trying to figure out the latest smartphone.
But Abbas-Mustan isn’t the name associated with this one. D’Souza is younger, hipper, clued in and therefore has no business making such tone-deaf trash. There is a dishonest selling-out vibe about his work here; is he truly able to sleep peacefully at night knowing that one of his actors will say “Isse dil ki nahi, Dell ki zaroorat hai” while parading laptop footage the next morning on set?
I could go on, because I haven’t even gotten into Khan’s sudden fascination with the art of dancing (badly). Or the futility of writing about his movies. Or the perverse realization that his Tiger series might become autobiographical if Tiger Shroff takes over. But it’s Eid, who cares?