Woo hoo, and Salman Khan is back in his full glory, with Race 3, sleepwalking, loaded with laid back charm for his loyal fans. Fighting without purpose, charming the women, sticking up for his family, supporting the bro, smirking and frowning his way through. Can we blame the man for choosing not to act? He has already pulled in 100 crores for the opening weekend, no less.

For better or worse, he doesn’t do it alone this time. The reconfigured Race franchise gives him company, along with ex-perts Anil Kapoor and Jacqueline Fernandez, who return in different avatars. Bobby Deol, Saqib Saleem and Daisy Shah are the new recruits, and together, this pentagon team shares the burden of this arduous venture directed by Remo D’Souza. It would have definitely been a missed opportunity, if it was an opportunity in the first place.

Race 1 (2008) and Race 2 (2013) were at best well-executed flukes. Unfortunately, Remo misses the point here by a long stretch. Abbas-Mustan didn’t come without their flaws but had the death-by-betrayal formula down pat. They know how to tell a story (without having a story). Thrills, action, suspense beats, and stars are the story here. Akshay Khanna, Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham and Deepika Padukone had earned their place here. The current crew disappoints. Her business can be all hers, but this franchise definitely ain’t Daisy’s. Saqib is boy (hood) lost in the woods. The only silver lining is Bobby — great to have the charmer back but the man and his chiseled body can only do so much. With the suspense zing missing, this venture hangs precariously in suspension, unsure whether to land or fly, like the stuck helicopter in one scene between two cars.

Anil Kapoor’s Shamsher Singh, an arms kingpin, starts off this wham bam party with panache, somewhere in a middle-east desert. A helicopter is flogged and an arms factory rescued with the help of an exploding gel pen. The flock of stars are introduced to us super slow, in prolonged sequences. Yawn! Considering their achievements later in the film don’t count for much, that is as good as it gets.

So we have Shamsher’s spewing twins, daughter Sanjana (Daisy Shah) who digs extreme sports, and son Suraj (Saqib Saleem) who has a thing for nothing. Second in command to Shamsher in this no-business is Sikander Singh (Salman Khan), his adopted son, whose fancy car makes a grand arrival before him. Yash Singh (Bobby Deol) is Sikander’s right hand and general purpose eye candy. Finally, there is the routine romantic placement, Jessica (Jacqueline Fernandez), only that she does her fair share of action and fights. Come to think of it, both Daily and Jacqueline are alert and dexterous, and the only ones performing with utter seriousness.

That is all there is to it, folks. Don’t risk it, I’d say. Or better still, watch Veere Di Wedding. That story looks Oscar-nomination level worthy now, if we compare notes. Oh, and the songs in Race 3 have more energy than the scenes, yarn and shaan put together. They worked better than the bland narrative. Some numbers were unintentionally amusing, some sprightly, and some onerous.

Allah Duhai Hai, rendered by Amit Mishra, Jonita Gandhi, Sreerama Chandra, and Raja Kumari, works musically, until you see the entire cast and their lost splendour together. What were they thinking (or, not) again?

I must confess that Heeriye (Deep Money, Neha Bhasin, Kamaal Khan) felt groovy as, and a welcome relief from, the ridiculous drama on screen. Jacqueline, especially, takes to the pole in the song as if her life depended on it. Like, please don’t make me go back to the scenes and dialogue again. The feisty beauty even manages to get Salman out of the stationary zone. Viral Uncleji to the rescue?

Salman and partner Iulia Vantur make some music. He writes lyrics for two songs, I Found Love and Selfish (three versions). She sings three, Selfish, Party Chale On (lively) and Saansein Hui Dhuaan (buoyant), her voice does have groove.

Selfish appears out of nowhere, and looks like it doesn’t have anywhere to disappear either. Party Chale On does its job. Salman sings I Found Love, picturised on him and Jacqueline, with care. The look and feel of the song sweeps in straight from the eighties though, seeking its lost time zone. His singing has potential in case he wants a change from (not) acting but the lyrics (sample below), err… have a life of their own.

I Found Love

Nobody knows what the future holds for us

Let’s give it our best

Oh jaana jaana jaana oh baby!

Jab saath hote hain

Jab paas hote hain

Roobaroo hote hi

Meri rooh teri rooh se kahe…

I found love, I found love

I found love, I found it in you…


Ik baar baby selfish hoke

Apne liye jiyo na

If you have survived this review, pat yourself on the back. Thank me for watching Race 3 so that you don’t have to. Salman Khan fans (including yours truly) will not listen but you know better. Ik baar Baby selfisssh hokeapne liye jiyo na.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Race 3. Director: Remo D’Souza. Writer: (cough) Shiraz Ahmed. Players: Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Saqib Saleem, Daisy Shah. Music: Salim-Sulaiman. Theatrical release: Tips Films, Salman Khan Films.

Hamida Parkar is a freelance journalist and founder-editor of cinemaspotter.com. She writes on cinema, culture, women and social equity.