MUMBAI—Sequels are of two kinds: one, where the story continues, or two, where the same or different characters are placed in a different plot that has resemblance to the original’s genre. “Race 2” (2013) was a true sequel where Saif Ali Khan, the central character, was placed in a different imbroglio similar in tenor and genre to the first film “Race” (2008). The progression was smooth, and beside him, the private eye (Anil Kapoor) was common too.
Here, however, is a story where the only things common to the earlier film as a genre are crime and fast cars. Among the cast, Kapoor is there, this time as an arms supplier Shamsher in a Gulf country, whose chief rival there is another Indian, Rana (Freddy Daruwala). Yes, Jacqueline Fernandez is there too, as a con-woman with a secret, and not as the character she essayed in “Race 2.”
Why am I saying all this? Simply, to make the point that true sequels by definition, should not change tracks midway in arbitrary fashion and should REMAIN true sequels, while franchises, if need be, can, however, retain characters or continuation if need be, to entice audiences.
And this is where “Race 3” gets its first blow: lovers of a well-known series lose a substantial part of their attraction towards a story that is SUDDENLY as different from the first two as pasta from pizza!
What’s more, the new recipe is clearly meant to cash in ONLY on the business, and that, in these days when audiences are more intelligent than ever, DOES NOT work! Because, almost by inference, the script now tries to lure you in with excessively spectacular action—chases, cars blown up, some VFX, a mega-star who flies like a tacky “A Flying Jatt” at will, and all the tricks in the book. Tricks that, circa 2018, are as outdated as that book itself!
In this pursuit of mega-money, they forget the axiom that the audience wants VFM (value for money) and not VFX, so to speak.
Worse, the plot is not only wafer-thin but harebrained as well. Without revealing the twists and turns (yes, there will be those who will want to watch it despite this review and the buzz!), the saga is of Shamsher’s eldest son Sikandar (Salman Khan) and Shamsher’s younger kids Sanjana (Daisy Shah) and Suraj (Saqib Saleem), each with their own quirks. Then there is dour-faced Yash (Bobby Deol) who would do anything for Sikandar and Jessica (Jacqueline Fernandez), who alternates between Yash and Sikandar in romantic ardor.
The crux of the plot is of recovering a crucial hard disk from a locker in Cambodia about Indian politicians’ sexual peccadilloes in Manali (yeah, you read it right). This can take Shamsher back to his hometown of Zilla Handia in small-town India for a respectable life as it was the politicians who had forced him to escape abroad.
In the end, we do not even know what Rana is doing in this mad plotline, as the root of the trouble and solution lie within the family itself. It’s all about “losing” your parents. No, that word is no typo: watch the film, and you will know!
And yes, they are actually brazen and cocksure about a sequel to this (the line “To ek aur race hogi (So there will be one more “Race”)!!! in the last sequences. But the most heinous murder shown here is the assassination of one of Hindi cinema’s best thriller series this side of “Dhoom!”
It is superfluous to mention that the film lacks the Abbas-Mustan touch (at their worst, the director duo was better in “Players”) and that Shiraz Ahmed can barely be recognized as the writer of that film, and of “Wanted.” The ‘dialogues” are ridiculous, and the lead artistes jump into their village dialect at whim. Thank heavens, that lingo is not the omnipresent Punjabi but a Bhojpuri-like dialect, though the songs include the Punjabi “Heeriye.” The songs, by the way, are best not described, INCLUDING the re-created “Allah Duhai Hai,” which is so desecrated beyond redemption, it’s almost sacrilegious.
Director Remo D’Souza is, thus, at best a front-man for the stunt team and VFX team here. The coldness and lack of emotional connect, so vital to the franchise and every action drama to have resonance with the audience, is missing. Remo’s last, “A Flying Jatt” was bad enough. But with such huge resources and a mega-star like Salman Khan, he should have worked on this film if he took it up, because even “A Flying Jatt” was better than this one.
Salman Khan as Sikandar and Anil Kapoor as Shamsher are decently competent. Bobby Deol reminds us of his Abbas-Mustan days and does well. But the rest either sleepwalk through their roles or overdo them. Jacqueline seems to have temporarily forgotten how to act, but all said and done, we can’t blame the girl!
If you are a hard-boiled Salman Khan fan, watch Tips’ “Race 3.” Or else, if you are looking at good entertainment, let us offer “3” sincere Tips: (1) spare yourself 3D agony (the extra dimension was not needed, and the resultant camerawork is needlessly dark); (2) “Race” to your DVD library and watch “Race” instead; and then (3) revisit “Race 2.”