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Baaghi 3 - rebel without a cause, all flaws without a pause

Baaghi 3 should be as hesitatingly on your viewing list as one should accept an offer of coffee in a Gujju or Marathi household - calling that jaifal-flavored watery gruel coffee is a travesty, but that's a story for another day (I have been given immunity from prosecution for that coffee statement from my and my wife's families). The third installment of the disjointed franchise released in theaters in March, and is now available on Hotstar. The previous two installments while also being ultra-violent, and no masterpieces by any stretch of imagination, at least had a modicum of suspense to drive the narrative forward. This one has as much suspense as watching paint dry and gives up all pretense of catering to an audience smarter than a toddler. The sheer contempt it has for its audience's thinking capabilities requires a level of chutzpah that is beyond the reach of mere mortals.

Tiger Shroff, all six pack and no expressions, plays younger brother Ronnie to older brother Vikram, played by Riteish Deshmukh, all bad expressions and no six pack. Father Chaturvedi, played by Jackie Shroff in a role where he was probably paid by the minute since that's all the screen time he has, on his death bed asks Ronnie to swear an oath to protect his pusillanimous older brother from all harm. Apparently all that requires any time any where is for Vikram to let out a blood-curdling "Ronnnieeee", and Ronnie prakats himself faster than the time it takes for the guy behind you to honk when the light turns green at any intersection in India. The entire story, and I use that word "story" in the most liberal sense, revolves around Ronnie answering that clarion call and getting Vikram out of various pickles of increasing magnitude culminating in the destruction of Syria. Along the way there are characters named BMC and IPL which is supposed to tickle your funny bone, and one Pakistani called Akhtar Lahori, who for some strange reason keeps lapsing in and out of Hyderabadi accented Hindi at will. Played respectively by veteran Satish Kaushik, Jaideep Ahlawat, who did a fantastic job as Inspector Hathi Ram in Amazon Prime's amazing original series Paatal Lok (reviewed here), and Vijay Varma who was superb in Pink (2016) and as Moeen in Gully Boy (2019) (reviewed here), they are glaring examples of what sterling actors are reduced to in the hands of an incompetent director and shoddy script. The main villain called Abu Jalal Gaza who supposedly has a fearsome reputation, is always kind and considerate during fight sequences allowing his opponents ample time for longing looks, hugs, and long stretches of dialogue. The late Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS fame must be turning in his grave. By the way, Abu Jalal's organization is called Jaish-e-Lashkar, which I guess they were trying to make a combo platter of real-life terror units Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, not realizing that the words Jaish and Lashkar both mean army. Thus, Jaish-e-Lashkar means army of army, I kid you not. Salim-Javed level of writing this certainly isn't.

Director Ahmed Khan, who is a choreographer and also directed Baaghi 2 (2018), was one of the children in Mr India (1987), in which the aforementioned Satish Kaushik was the hilarious manservant Calendar. He should have either remained a child or stayed in his dancing career. All he does here is make your head spin faster than a whirling dervish. It's enough to make an ardent movie lover take up arms and turn into a baaghi sworn to eradicate this drivel.

June 1, 2020

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