The promos of Dabangg 3 asked us: “Swagat nahin karoge hamaara?” We, the Chulbul Pandey fans (Not the same as the Bhai fans, mind you), enthusiastically rushed to the theatre, braving the enormously priced tickets, ‘almost full’ tabs of the booking apps, a marathon of ‘Nandu yahaan hospital ke baahar fu-fu kya kar raha hai’, ‘Shaadi hai taiyaar hoke aayiye’ ads, finally settling down for a whopping 2.43 hrs. ordeal, hoping against the hopes that this ‘prequel’ just might delight the Chulbul Pandey fan in us.
Twenty minutes into the film (The Roger Ebert 20-minute litmus test always proves to be so right – If a film doesn’t appeal to you in its first 20 minutes, it will never work for you till its last frame), and Dabangg 3 already begins to feel like a drivel of a fading superstar desperately trying to find his mojo, right after charting the ‘Prem wala Bhai route’ with Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo, ‘Action wala Bhai route’ with Race 3, ‘Heart-with-gold Bhai route’ with Tubelight, to the recent ‘Patriotism wala Bhai’ with Bharat. They all just don’t seem to work. And now comes the tried-and-tested ‘Robinhood wala Bhai’, which ends up being a parody of the original, instead of an ambitious prequel.
Prabhudeva, as the Director of Dabangg 3 throws the slick action of Wanted along with dance sequences of R…Rajkumar at us, but the screenplay falls flat, making the audience kick themselves for not streaming the first two films instead. Seriously folks, it makes much more sense to revisit the first two Dabanggs, perhaps back-to-back binge watch sessions, rather than indulging yourself with this failed attempt of cashing in on the fading hype and hoopla of a character we loved so much.
Debutant Saiee Manjrekar, though looks promising, is a complete mismatch with an aging superstar trying to look younger. She is given 2 songs and a super slow-motion scene that focusses on her face for eternity, so much so that you just might check out the restroom mirror during the interval to know if you have aged a year while watching the first half of Dabangg 3. Sonakshi Sinha does a Sonakshi Sinha here. And make no mistake, nobody plays Sonakshi Sinha better than Sonakshi Sinha – Got the drift, right? Sudeep plays the shoddily-written villain with conviction but the bad writing by Dilip Shukla and Aloke Upadhyaya leave no room for him to improvise or make the audience understand his character, if not hate him.
Dabangg 3 tries to tell us how Chulbul Pandey came into being, from where he found those seeti-worthy lines, who taught him to wear his sunglasses on the back of his shirt, how he became a ‘police wala goonda’ – An exercise as redundant as driving all your way to watch Dabangg 3 on big screen, when you could have easily waited for the online streaming release, at least you’d have the luxury of fast-forwarding what transpires on screen and finish this ‘yawnathon’ in just few minutes (or seconds?).
The film’s biggest warning is ‘Story by Salman Khan’, which in a way, prepares you not to expect much (Remember Suryavanshi and Veer previously written by Bhai?). As audience, you never expect much from a zero-brainer like Dabangg series anyway – The formula is set – The swagger of a ‘Police wala goonda’ mouthing whistle-worthy lines, romances the beautiful Sonakshi Sinha, a muscle-wala villain who is sure to bare his torso in the end and ensure that Bhai also does that, an Arbaaz Khan character of Makkhi who either plays comic role, goes rogue or does both, and the end promises a sequel (Thankfully this one doesn’t, but then you never know!).
Even the songs look like a rehashed version of the previous installments. So, you aren’t expecting any insights into Police Department or study of a criminal’s mindset anyway, but just pure popcorn entertainment (Heck, the popcorns are costlier than the tickets these days, but unlike Bhai films, popcorns don’t disappoint you). But Dabangg 3 denies you the luxury of entertainment and is a bore to the core.
Towards the film’s end, Chulbul Pandey buries the villain Sudeep, saying ‘Tere jaison ki jagah dharti par nahin, dharti ke andar hai’. Wish the makers of Dabangg 3 shared the same sentiment with the film’s script, jiski jagah dharti par nahin, dharti ke neeche hai. ‘Milord, is film ke script ko ba-izzat ‘burry’ kiya jaaye!’