In 1990 Chicago, a young boy ran to his local pawnbrokers to get money for a couple of rings, only it wasn't very much money. When the man behind the counter indicated his watch, he reluctantly handed it over, but received $25 for his trouble which he almost lost to a gang of street punks, yet managed to use the skills his father (Jackie Shroff) taught him to escape with his cash. His parent was the leader of an establishment called The Greatest Indian Circus which had run into financial difficulties and had one last chance to impress the bank representative that they were a viable concern, which involved them putting on a great show for him. But no matter the skill involved, the banker was unimpressed...
That's only half the pre-credits sequence to the third entry in Bollywood's Dhoom series, which saw regular screenwriter Vijay Krishna Acharya graduate to directing duties. Though it remained recognisably an action movie, there was a lot more drama this time around, only the usual buddy movie business went on too with returning stars Abhishek Bachchan (as Inspector Jai Dixit) and Uday Chopra (as his sidekick Ali) sent to the United States to catch a thief. We know who the thief is from the start, it's the grown up version of that little boy, Sahir, played by Aamir Khan, one of the most respected Indian stars here brought in to be offered the lion's share of the screen time.
Even to the extent of expanding his appearance by one hundred percent, though to say more would be to spoil the main twist. And also, if you were familiar with the work of Christopher Nolan you would probably twig what was up as well, since Acharya appeared to be heavily influenced by certain entries in the British director's oeuvre, especially The Prestige, which was where the magician plot derived though that could just as easily hailed from another Hollywood hit of 2013, Now You See Me which also used a conjuring trick theme for its robbery setpieces. Here Sahir kicks off the story by arranging an audacious bank raid on the same establishment which ruined his dear old dad with a plan to destroy it for good, an anti-banker theme which many films large and small adopted around this point.
If that Chicago location hasn't had you cottoning on to what the other influence was, it was Nolan's most popular movies, his Batman series, though this put us in an odd position of being entirely sympathetic towards Sahir, in spite of him presumably being the bad guy, and feeling disgruntlement at the supposed detective heroes who are tracking him down. When he assists them while pretending to shift the blame onto a fictional alter ego known as The Joker - er, sorry, The Jester, he is actually casing the joint and returns knowing the ins and outs of the building and its security, able to relieve it of its funds with ease. However, Dixit is no fool and realises what he's done, managing in the resulting chase to fire a bullet into Sahir as he flees on a motorcyle.
While hanging from a helicopter, obviously, since the action was nothing less than spectacular, if hard to believe. It was pleasing in a way that Bollywood had such generous funding by the time the Dhoom movies were made that they could afford such glossy shenanigans, though actual good sense in those sequences tended to fly out of the window, on a motorbike. That transforms into a personal speedboat. That can go underwater. And so on. This engendered mixed feelings in the Indian audience, either because they resented their national cinema so aping American entertainment, or because much of these movies veered towards the wrong side of ridiculous, which was precisely the reason others found them amusing. Wishing for nothing but the audience to run the gamut from comedy to drama to songs to action and back again, you couldn't say you didn't get value, with Dhoom: 3 in particular displaying where the budget went with some glee. Accept it was wearing its influences on its sleeve and you might well enjoy yourself. Music by Pritam Chakraborty.