Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Filmi Girl’s Dhoom 3 FAQ for the poorly informed film buff

As much as I want more people to share my love for Bollywood, I’m always wary when a Bollywood film catches the attention of Western film types because for every open minded film fan in Las Vegas or Sydney or Glasgow, there are five assholes with film degrees who think they know everything because they saw some Shahrukh movie in World Cinema 101 and five Internet lawyers who have decreed that there is but one way to craft a film and that way be the way of Nolan/Spielberg/*insert your fave white guy here* and will argue you to death if you try to tell them otherwise.

For the most part, I’ve given up attempting to argue with these guys (and they are mostly guys) about films because they never listen to me but with Dhoom 3 cracking the Top 10 on the American box office charts, the ill informed reviews have been flying fast and furious… into my inbox. Because people love sending me this stuff. Probably because they know I’ll write something like this in response.

And, so, here you go!

Filmi Girl’s Dhoom 3 FAQ for the poorly informed film buff

What the fuck did I just watch?

You, my dear straw person, just watched Dhoom 3, a real live Bollywood potboiler. Traditionally, Bollywood films aimed at a mass audience--like Dhoom 3--are like a masala spice mix with a bit of something for everyone. There will be action, love, sexy stuff, family drama, songs, a little spiritualism, a little politics, and some good moral values.

No, seriously. What the fuck? Did I miss something in the first 2?

Okay. Well, yes, Dhoom 3 is the third in the series and it does help to have seen the first two films to make sense of the characters and story. The first Dhoom (2004) had ACP Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) on the tail of the thief Kabir (the studly John Abraham) and, with the help of Ali (Uday Chopra), he gets Kabir to do one last heist and then chases him and then Kabir goes off a cliff and dies. This film was moderately successful thanks to the hot babes and one liners and disguises but there were plenty of other similar, moderately successful films out around this time. (Dus, Khakee, etc.)

Then Dhoom 2 came out in 2006 and was a massive success. Massive. It seeped into the pop culture like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. You didn’t even have to have seen the movie to know all about it. The basic plot was almost exactly the same--ACP Jai Dixit hunting a thief, tries to get him to do one last heist, jumping of a cliff, etc.--but Hrithik Roshan as master thief “A” was electric and walked away with the movie and the girl.

These first two Dhoom films were written by Vijay Krishna Acharya but directed by Sanjay Gadhvi. After the mega-success of Dhoom 2, Vijay got to direct his very first film, a meta-masala film called Tashan, which released in 2008… to massive jeers. Even though it had all the right ingredients, the film was too highbrow for the casual viewer and too lowbrow for the critics. It flopped and Vijay went underground.

Meanwhile, the press and public were still talking about Dhoom 3. Everybody wanted a Dhoom 3. There was speculation, parodies, more speculation. Finally, the film was announced with the extra special news that Aamir Khan was playing the villain role and Katrina Kaif, sexiest woman alive for the nth year running, was going to be the female lead. And Vijay Krishna “Everybody Hated Tashan” Acharya was directing.

People know these characters like family and they love them. Imagine walking into The Return of the Jedi having never seen or heard of the first two Star Wars films.

That is what you missed in the first two.

Yeah, well… it sucked. This Acharya guy ripped off Christopher Nolan’s Batman AND The Prestige and he did it wrong.

Hold up there, bub. Before you go crying thief, riddle me this--do you call what Quentin Tarantino does ‘ripping off’ films? I mean does Kill Bill rip off Lady Snowblood? Think carefully.


I thought so.

That’s different, though.

It’s different because Tarantino is remixing other people’s cultural references for you where Vijay Acharya is remixing your cultural references for a foreign audience. Of course the beats will feel a bit off to you but the average Raj will find them as exotic and fun as the average Joe found Kill Bill.

Well. It still sucks. The plot made no sense and the worldview was too simplistic.

Look, Bollywood films like this aren’t supposed to be true to life or have detailed world building. Nobody cares about that. These films exist in a heightened reality where it’s all about the emotional arc of the story and not about plot details. Literally one of the most beloved Bollywood films of all time is basically four hours of a family wedding where the climax is brought about by a pet dog managing to be in the right place at the right time. Free yourself from the constraints of literal narrative and fly free.

If it helps think of all mass Bollywood films as segments in Waking Life.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some problems with Dhoom 3--it would have nice to see some heists and there wasn’t nearly enough Katrina--but it’s pointless discussing those things with somebody who thinks the problem with the film was that it made no sense… because it’s foreign.

Dude, that Katrina chick is hot, right? But that character is total MPDG fail.

Sigh. Again, you’re misreading the film through the Hollywood filter. While you and your straw man buddies have spent the last few years picking apart Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Bollywood circles been doing the same to the Bold Character. Actresses have been increasingly pressured to a) have very thin, gym toned bodies b) flaunt them in bikinis and c) do ‘bold scenes’ involving kissing or even s.e.x. The lovely and talented Katrina’s strip tease in the beginning is a riff on this. You’ll notice that she’s very fully clothed when she’s not on stage because that’s not the real her.

I have a lot more to say about Katrina but you’re probably not listening.

Huh? I was just…

Google image searching Katrina?

Shut up.

Come on, what else do you want to complain about?

That retard act was so over the top.

You say that, my dear straw man, because you haven’t seen My Name is Khan or Barfi. Also, Hollywood has no ground to stand on when it comes to differently abled characters. Aamir’s acting was over-the-top but then Aamir’s acting is always over the top, whether he’s playing a guy with Asperger’s or an engineering student or a terrorist. That’s just how Aamir roles.

So, this Aamir guy is big?

You could say that. He’s the “serious” one of the Big Three Khans. He had a film nominated for an Oscar; his recent television series on societal problems (like rape) was a national talking point for weeks; he does so few films and cares so passionately about the ones he does that any Aamir Khan film is a huge event. Dhoom 3 just broke the Indian Box office record, right? Guess who starred in the film that had the record before? Aamir Khan.

Why didn’t Abhishek have a song?

Saltz, I know that’s you. This isn’t 2005. That’s why. Next.

Okay, the special effects sucked.

They don’t have the budget for Avatar and if special effects were all that mattered Indian people would just all go see Hollywood films en masse but for some reason they don’t. Try using your imagination.

Well… there should have been more of that funny guy.

See, how am I supposed to discuss Dhoom 3 with somebody who can’t appreciate a good Daya Prochu joke?!

I give up.

Here’s a pro-tip from me: Bollywood is not just Hollywood with a different first letter. Just because things seem weird or boring or wrong to you doesn’t mean that they are. Look, I was bored shitless during The Dark Knight and found the story trite but I loved Dhoom 3 and found it quite moving. We all have different tastes and I would be cautious about slamming a film made in a style you know very little about for an audience that is not you and that goes for you, too, guys who only know Bollywood from the music channels. Don’t dismiss these movies as garbage just because they remind you of going to your auntie’s house and getting your cheeks pinched eighty billion times and real movies are what that cool teen neighbor boy with the Scarface T-shirt watches.

Enjoy what they have to offer. Learn to appreciate something new. Try not to sound like a dick when writing about them.


Rum said...

Hahaha this was brilliant! i propose you send this to our fave correspondent at the Daily Beast and everywhere else

Filmi Girl said...

LOL!! I'm glad you enjoyed!! It's like… these movies aren't perfect but we love them. Just like those fanboys love what they love. I really was bored during The Dark Knight, though. Oof. My butt hurt from sitting at the end of that one.

But it's not worth arguing with them. They think they already "know" everything and besides… I'm a girl. ergo I have cooties.

Tady said...

I am totally loving this!! Thanks as always Filmi Girl!

eliza bennet said...

Thank you for this.

And this is coming from someone who actually loved The Dark Knight (multiple viewings) and saw the twist in The Prestige right at the in the house having tea scene.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
.article .article-content { word-break: normal !important; }