For a franchise that is risqué, full of high octane action, and blissfully without scruples, this edition is surprisingly low key. After a detailed introduction to the characters, which tells us just how badass they all are, the film switches off and is comatose for an hour. During this time, we are told, vaguely, about some divisions of property that the ‘Race’ family patriarch, Shamsher (Anil Kapoor), has decided to make. He wants to share his wealth between his twins, Sanjana (Daisy Shah) and Suraj (Saqib Saleem), and his adopted son, Sikander (Salman Khan). The film’s narrative hangs on the resentment, the antagonism, the twists in the plot and a videotaped journey into the past that this fateful decision triggers off amongst all the characters.
‘Race 3’ is a bit of a weird movie. The twins are close and keep ribbing each other and calling one another ‘bro’. In the manner that they hang out with each other, the relationship, at times, appears to have an incestuous quality to it. But the film is so loosely scripted and structured, with director Remo D’ Souza appearing to have so little control over the production, that it is possible that this suggestiveness in the bond is a result of the actors misinterpreting their characters, and assuming their roles to be that of romantic partners instead of siblings.
Clearly ‘Race 3’ had extreme production problems, and you can see how, with many of the actors not quite appearing to be briefed on who they are playing, or what this story is all about. Nowhere is this more evident than in the character of Yash (Bobby Deol). He is the nowhere man of the film, uncertain of who he is right till the end. Throughout, he is not quite sure whether he should be friendly to Sikander or hostile to him, whether he should be dating Jessica (Jacqueline Fernandez) or leaving her for his elders. In an explanatory scene, Sikander tells Yash how he met Jessica in Beijing, long before he, Yash, did. In another annotation on the same subject, the twins convince Yash that since he would always believe that Jessica is cheating on him with Sikander, it would be better to let her go and focus on destroying Sikander instead. It is enough disinformation to confuse the best of actors, and though Bobby Deol does share the final pack shot of the movie with Salman Khan – shirtless – he walks around through most of it, as though in a trance.
Most significantly, Salman Khan is strikingly subdued in ‘Race 3’. Unusually for him, he shares screen space willingly with his co-actors and seems comfortable with allowing the movie to be an ensemble work. This understated persona seems to suit him rather well, and though his fans would be disappointed with his absence on the winners podium in every scene, he seems to have made a conscious transition to a new phase in his career, sitting on the backseat of a production, and playing mentor to other actors.
The high production values of a ‘Race’ franchise are still present in the movie, but minus the renegade characters, the eroticism of the women and the sex appeal of the cars. There is a highly dramatised cat fight in the film between Jessica and Sanjana, but even that scene does not have the girl-on-girl erotic subtext that such hand to hand combat between women could easily have been imbued with.
‘Race 3′ is a surprisingly downbeat movie, with more talk in it than action. Almost three quarters of the film is conversation based, a possible record for this series. An oddball of a film, it is not worth a watch.