The 3rd instalment of the Dabangg franchise, directed by Prabhudeva, does little to nothing in changing the blueprint it started nine years ago, other than inserting a “woke” plot amidst personal vendetta.
Salman’s grand entry with a gimmicky action sequence – title song – introduction of conflict – Chulbul saves the day – song no #2 – introduction of villain – build up towards climax – punches and punchlines – item song before climax – Chulbul saves the day.
“Jaisi karni vaisi bharni”, an expression we’ve heard for far too long, this time is used by Chulbul towards the end. Somehow this dialogue is more for the audiences sitting in the theatre watching the SAME drama unfold yet again, just this time with a different villain. But well, as Salman rightly says, and through it means, you knew what you were getting yourself into.
Abhinav Kashyap sowed the seeds for this franchise nine years ago, giving Salman one of his most loving and charming characters in modern times, Chulbul Pandey – a charming, rebellious cop who, packed with punches and punchlines, would find the most twisted way of doing the right things to save the day.
With its third part, and just like its previous one (directed by Arbaaz Khan), does nothing new but rather follows the same template that has had from its first film, assuming that they would get away this time as well. However, this time we are left with the origin story of Chulbul Pandey that none of us asked for. The film takes the best moments from its previous two films and traces its existence, which result as Chulbul’s secrets and how he came to be.
We get to know Chulbul’s real name, who he was, the history behind the infamous line about how he would drill multiple holes within a human, etc. Saiee Manjrekar plays the character of Khushi, who Chulbul loved before meeting and marrying Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha), all this being an important part of Salman’s evolution of becoming Chulbul Pandey, quite literally in the film.
One can clearly see the lack of originality and a creative block within the writing when not only the entire origin story takes up an entire half to ‘build’ to the core conflict with the antagonist Bali Singh (Sudeep), but also, the reason Chulbul becomes who he is today also feels redundant.
In Dabangg 3, Chulbul Pandey is posted in a no-name town of UP, where ironically, he has nothing to do other than discovering this new found love for women empowerment. He not only rescues women from sex trafficking rings, but just to show where it all came from, in his past, he does things like advising Khushi to not change her surname post marriage and also giving dowry rather than accepting it. However, more often than not, it comes off as preachy and induced than organic.
After wasting the entire first half in establishing who Chulbul Pandey is, it takes another hour of just the redundant cat and mouse chase, where thanks to Salman’s bad performance, you want Sudeep to win. Same old digs and same old way of taking revenge. Bribe the cops, kidnap the minister etc.
Even the humour is scarce within the film, wherein most of it feels like taken from the Rohit Shetty playbook. Salman removing his belt and his pants falling off, A minister’s chamcha pulling off stupid literal actions that he’s asked to do etc. When someone sets the bar for the film so low, one cannot want logic out of it, and hence in those terms, Dabangg 3 does a great job in never justifying its existence.
Even the performances feel like a let down because the characters even in their 3rd instalment are doing the same thing, and this time, falling rather flat. Sonakshi Sinha pulls off the same old feisty but caring wife, and this time an endearing mother who uses unconventional dialogues to keep Chulbul safe, though only for a while. The debutant Saiee Manjrekar barely has any dialogues and plays the cause of the conflict, which don’t add anything to her performance with less dialogues and more music.
However, the film’s only silver lining is the performance of Sudeep, who pulls off the embodiment of pure evil with an uber cool swagger, and defeats Salman even in frames where he is losing the battle.
Following the same template as its previous two counterparts, Dabangg 3 gets too formulaic with its treatment of action, drama, music and punchlines, which at this point feel like being scraped off from the bottom of the barrel, and with nothing new to offer. But then again, thanks to our audience and die-hard Salman fans across the country, one wouldn’t be surprised watching this movie get to the 100-200 crore club.