Race 3

Starring: Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Daisy Shah, Saqib Saleem, Freddy Daruwala.
Direction: Remo D'Souza
Music: Salim Sulaiman

Watching Race 3 was an inscrutable, hazy, and confounding experience. One second, I am happily surprised by the female characters' lengthy, complex action sequences. The next, I am horrified as that action sequence devolves into an inexplicable dance battle with punches in between splits. One second, I am surprised by an intriguing, and admittedly unforeseen, turn of events at film's climax. The next, I am yet again horrified as Bobby Deol and Salman Khan rip their shirts off in slow motion.

Race 3 is the story of Shamsher Singh (Anil Kapoor), a prominent arms dealer shunned from his Allahabad hometown due to his enmity with local politicians. He has re-built his business and home in Al-Shifa, an island in the Middle East, where, with the help of his loyal henchman Yash (Bobby Deol), he raises his stepson, Sikander (Salman Khan), and his twins, Sanjana (Daisy Shah) and Suraj (Saqib Saleem). Shamsher perpetually entrusts the professional and familial responsibilities, wealth and authority in Sikander, inciting intense vitriol and bitterness from Sanjana and Suraj. Eventually, when an opportunity to return to his hometown arises, Shamsher must rely on his family to carry out an intricate(?) blackmail to be successful. How the heist brings the Singhs' intrafamilial tensions to the surface forms the crux of the story.

Race 3, like its predecessors, hinges on serpentine twists in its plot's road, but it's inconsistent messaging completely disengages you. From the dramatic musical score, unexplained pauses in dialogue, and intense dosage of slow motion, it feels as if director Remo D'Souza wants to clearly demonstrate or impress something upon you in each scene. But those messages often contradict one another. Is he saying that women can fight alongside men with equal impact, as long as their hair stays luscious and bodies desirable? Or that women can be astute and loyal government agents, but are interchangeable romantic pieces? Or that siblings are invaluable, as long as they aren't your stepsiblings? Or that familial morals and compassion is essential, but killing anyone who interferes with business is, normal? Or, is the film trying to ask how many impressive acrobatics can you fit into an hour? How can we re-imagine Heer-Ranjha's love story through party music? Just like my line of questioning, this film jarringly derails into completely unrelated territory from where it stood a few seconds prior. It's hypocrisy, lack of cohesion and confounding storytelling make it a comedy, at best. Even when Salman Khan makes his big, dramatic entry, you can't help but laugh -- as if Bollywood has run out of ways to introduce their big stars and must now resort to completely unforeseen and unnatural methodologies.

What Race 3 lacks that the first, or even second Race embraced, is not-so-engaging, taut, thrilling narrative. Race 3 does too much talking for itself. In the first two films of this franchise, the effortless glamor, the seductive romance, and the arrogant dialogue fit into the frame. These things are part of the story without being the story. But in Race 3, the first twenty minutes exists primarily to establish the glitz and violent power of the characters. The dialogue also tends to spell everything out.

Apparently, the hallmark of every modern, pretentious, rich, upper class Indian is not just pathological flirting with primarily white women, but a forced English accent and predilection of saying "Bro" at the end of every sentence. Not to mention an undeniable love for painful one-liners like "I'm sick of this Sikku, dad" or "Our business is our business, none of your business."

It becomes easy to see why injecting any kind of emotional weight into this narrative is thereby inconceivable, making this story's heartbeat of "family unity" unconvincing and its climax underwhelming, unlike its predecessors.

I will never leave a film with just bad impressions, though. While most of the acting performances, barring seasoned veteran Anil Kapoor, were stuffy, forced, and forgettable, Jacqueline Fernandez's dancing was incredible to watch, even if she had very little character meat to work with. Daisy Shah's gymnastic ability intrigued me, and her action sequences with Fernandez were somewhat compelling. And, I must say, laughing as much as I did in Race 3, I had a great time despite its drivel. I got to make jokes of every possible Bollywood stereotype, and also realize how badly I did not want to see Bobby Deol and Salman Khan fight shirtless.

Nevertheless, I cannot, in good conscious, recommend this film to all audiences, especially those who are spending a significant amount of money to go to see this film. It is clear that the makers did not even put a genuine creative or artistic effort into the production, and that Race 3 is a vanity project primarily there to support Khan and his friends.

Like my mom asked at the end of the film, why was this called "Race" 3? I agree, it could've been anything else. Like how to make car crashes funny. Or how to negate every message you are trying to convey. Or how to link every crime to a dance sequence. You get my point.