Movie Review: Dhoom 3 from the eyes of a Chicagoan

Should you choose to watch Dhoom 3, you will find yourself asking “How is that even possible?” at least once every three scenes. But the biggest, most mystifying question is this: How is it even possible to create a worse film every time???

You know the film has almost nothing by way of a script when you can write out its entire plot in 50 words. Aamir Khan plays a circus artist/thief who wants to destroy the bank that caused his father to commit suicide after defaulting on a loan taken out to run their circus. When Chicago Police fails to crack the case, Inspector Jai and sidekick Ali are called in to do the job.

The saving grace of the film is unsurprisingly Aamir Khan, and of course the absolutely beautiful city of Chicago (yay, my city!). Shot rather nicely, the makers make full use of the city’s unique attractions – a lake in the middle of a city, a bridge that moves and the fact that a circus is something you can expect Chicagoans to actually care about. Khan is brilliant in everything he does in the film, although the dancing seems a little contrived. The Khans are not superstars for their dance moves, and perhaps Bollywood would be better off not trying to reinvent them into something they aren’t particularly known for. The rope work is also absolutely stunning, done seamlessly, and a treat to watch.

Uday Chopra’s character Ali is as superfluous as it was in the two previous Dhoom films. Katrina Kaif’s character Aliya serves the same purpose as that of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s in Dhoom 2, except that Kaif’s dances are marvelous, which may have been made possible by the fact that since she didn’t have many lines to deliver, she could spend all her energy on perfecting the dancing. Sadly, even Abhishek Bachchan has little to do in the film, though I was hoping this would serve as something of a comeback for him.

If one is to go by the film, it is easy to see why Chicago is as crime-infested as it is: its cops are incredibly stupid who don’t seem to know the city whose protection is their life’s work. By that same logic, Mumbai should be the safest city in the world! It would serve Dhoom makers well to put in a little more thought into making the criminals smarter rather than showing the cops as dumber.

All in all, the film isn’t particularly worse than the other two. If anything, Khan’s presence makes it more watchable than the earlier films. The film isn’t so long that it will feel like an absolute waste of time. I say GO.

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A case of two elections: What Pakistan Peoples Party can learn from Indian National Congress

In the past 6 months, much has changed in the South Asian region’s political landscape. Three countries – Pakistan, Nepal and India – had their voice heard through the ballot. Congratulations are in order for all three countries, particularly Pakistan where voters defied Taliban threats and Nepal, where just they very holding of elections is a huge step forward for the Himalayan kingdom.

Some key parallels can be – and have been – drawn between the recently-concluded elections in India and Pakistan’s May 2013 elections, the first of which is of course the almost mirror-image ascents of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and the Aam Aadmi PartyPakistanis went out in large numbers (a predicted turnout of 55%) to literally throw out the incumbent government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), similar to Indians’ disgust with the ruling party Congress which has a received a huge battering. Interestingly, conservative Pakistan decided to vote in conservative Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which was barely a surprise. But, surprisingly and similarly, secular India decided to back conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – whose prime ministerial candidate is accused of mass murder of Muslims in Gujarat. 

But I want to focus on one key difference: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s statement following his party’s defeat. While his mother Sonia, a traditional subcontinental leader, insisted that inflation was to be blamed for her party’s dismal showing, Rahul went right out and stated clearly that he would like to learn from AAP’s success and transform Congress. One of the things that he said had made a lot of difference was that the AAP had been able to bring into the fold people who earlier used to look down upon politics. Never a fan of Rahul Gandhi (apart from his looks), I have to say that this is a very sensible statement to make. He has clearly reflected at length about what went wrong and has at least displayed some intent to try to tackle the problem. Although I do not have very high hopes, I wish him success in his efforts to revitalize his party.

No such reflection was on show in Pakistan, where PPP and its assorted allies cried foul, with its co-chairman claiming that there was a local and global conspiracy against them that had caused their defeat. “Young gun” and Chairman of PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari responded by moving to Dubai semi-permanently and using Twitter more aggressively. So serious was the PPP to rebuild itself that it decided to name Qaim Ali Shah the Chief Minister of Sindh AGAIN, in whose 5-year term provincial capital Karachi reverted to the sort of violence last seen in the 1990s. The losing parties almost stopped short of publicly stating that the Pakistani people had gone crazy. Surely they must have that they wanted to throw out the very parties that had performed so well in the 5 years of their government, soldiering on to effectively addressing issues like terrorism and food insecurity in Pakistan. I mean, just look at the numbers…ok, nevermind, the numbers are probably manipulated too. After all, the media is also Pakistani public, and the Pakistani public clearly had lost its mind. 

There is still time, if anybody is listening. The PPP has five years to reflect, to learn and to rise back to its once glorious stature in Pakistani politics. It’s a voice that is needed in Pakistan, it still enjoys a large support base. Its leaders, like Aitzaz Ahsan and Sherry Rehman to name a few, need to stop lying to themselves and put their house in order. They need to read the writing on the wall: The reason they lost so miserably is not because Pakistanis woke up one morning suddenly hating the PPP, they lost because of the wounds that they had inflicted and left to fester on the people of this country.