A hoodie-clad Sanjay Dutt trounces his opponents in a game of Russian roulette in London. Cut to Highway On My Plate hosts unsuspectingly ticking off Nafisa Ali.
An old faithful’s daughter organises Jimmy Shergill’s release and asserts her allegiance by secretly planting a microphone in his shirt.
A cheesy Skype flirtation between Dutt and long-distance mistress Chitrangada Singh follows immediately after a nondescript woman is revealed to be his ready-to-divorce wife and a curious voice squeaks ‘Happy Birthday, Daddy’ behind the door.
A polo playing toy boy twiddles his thumbs in anticipation next door as Mahie Gill abandons him to dance and drink with the husband’s unstable second wife to the tune of Lag Ja Gale.
The extent of randomness Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 doles out is both daft and dizzying. Characters are shown, shot, stabbed and forgotten as per the film-maker’s whim.
Tigmanshu Dhulia’s murky concoction of intrigue, cunning and depravity set the tone for the Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster franchise. Despite the flaws, something about its earthy design and shrewd repartee drew us to the broad deceit of the first two movies.
This new one though is a complete hack-job.
While Dhulia’s plans to explore the festering indignation of bygone royalty has potential for sprawling complexity, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3‘s convoluted treachery and roundabout manner collapses into baffling level of incoherence.
It’s one thing to refrain from expository tactics and spoon-feed the audience. But the ambiguity with which Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 moves forward is perplexing. Those who haven’t seen the earlier editions are unlikely to sense the provocations in absence of backstory or subtext.
Dhulia seems like he is undecided between whose story should take centre stage and the obligation of linking old chapters to new. Where Dutt’s shaggy bulldog presence offers to scale things up, it’s a happy homecoming for regulars — Jimmy Shergill and Mahie Gill.
There is Saheb (Shergill) doing time in prison for bumping off Irrfan Khan’s character in 2013 while his scheming, sloshed half Madhavi (Gill) misuses her clout as MP to maintain the status quo. Glimpses from their strange, strained marriage are the only time Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 reveals some genuine evil. The duo’s relish and comfort in reiterating the crookedness is the only memorable bit of an unsalvageable mess.
A woefully miscast Dutt contributes to the comedown substantially.
His puffy-faced demeanour, grimy swagger, sudden bouts of maun vrats and a booming ‘He’s the Baba’ theme song deflect his resentment over swindling relatives (Kabir Bedi, Deepak Tijori), a mysterious cold war with his London family, deep ties with a guitar-strumming Chitrangada’s dancer and contrived camaraderie around the Saheb and his Biwi.
The schlockiest moment is when he is deported back to India for socking a racist British diplomat after his ‘Indian monkeys’ remark in a terribly bogus quarrel scene.
Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster has many such moments of unintended hilarity and none of the crackling dialoguebaazi its predecessors became famous for.
In another instance, ‘Aapko toh Ted Talks mein bolna chahiye‘ suggests a chap to Mahie.
Out of place wit, flimsy motives, clumsily picturised songs, dispensable characters, phony instances of adultery and a parody of a climax ensure there is no hope for Dhulia’s depthless, disappointing, drama.