Director Tigmanshu Dhulia's third film in the Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster franchise releases this Friday, July 27. The movie has a bigger star as the 'Gangster' this time, Sanjay Dutt. And yet the success of this film is as important for Sanjay Dutt as an actor as for the others in the cast, Jimmy Sheirgill, Mahie Gill, Chitrangda Singh and Soha Ali Khan.
Dutt is basking in the limelight thanks to the success of his biopic Sanju in which Ranbir Kapoor played him. But Dutt's last few films as an actor, including Bhoomi, were nothing to write home about. He needs a hit at the box office.
Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster the first part starred Jimmy Sheirgill, Mahie Gill and Randeep Hooda and was a gripping tale. The second part, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, starred Irrfan Khan in place of Randeep Hooda, the latter having died in the first film. Irrfan was appreciated in his role, and the Saheb and Biwi's equation was bitter as a married couple that further deteriorated with the entry of the other woman, played ably by Soha Ali Khan.
The 'Saheb' Aditya Pratap Singh and the 'Biwi' Madhavi Devi in the third part are at tenterhooks again, with him in jail and she doing everything to keep him there. The twist comes when the two come back again together once he manages to squeeze himself out of jail. Why do they compromise? Will Madhavi try to kill her husband? Or will he kill her?
There is Soha Ali Khan as Ranjana from the second part in a cameo, but the muse here is Chitrangda Singh as Mona, as fancied by both Uday and his younger brother (played by Dipak Tijori). Madhavi has matured to be the femme fatale rather than the muse.
Sanjay Dutt as Uday aka Baba, a take on his own nickname, is a brutal but gullible villain, certainly not as deadly as his Kancha Cheena in the Agneepath remake. In fact, he is not even the villain. Everybody is.
The best part of the Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster franchise is that not a single character is black or white. Everyone has grey shades, a deadly side and secrets to hide.
But in the latest film in the series, the plot seems to go haywire and reminds us of a similar film with too many sub-plots that went horribly wrong - and that is Salman Khan's Race 3, released a month ago.
The first half of Saheb, Biwi and Gangster 3 establishes too many characters and we don't understand what's going on.
Post-interval the film is better, as it moves forward with somebody or the other trying to harm each other in the race for power. The second half is more power games and also a matter of survival of the former royals of India, who are used to regal behaviour and respect but lack the resources to maintain even their basic needs.
All this leads to an interesting 'game' of Russian Roulette that was played by the ancestors of Uday.
But just as we are gearing up for a gritty climax with the game, (SPOILER) the film takes a turn again, leaving us exasperated. (Some people may like the now worn out sequences of all guns blazing, Quentin Tarantino style.)
The twists in the end were clearly done to keep Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster open for another sequel! But it has taken away from the thrill of the current film.
On the positive side, Sanjay Dutt and Jimmy Sheirgill have done a decent job but their dialogue delivery is not up to the mark. Mahie Gill shines as Madhavi and keeps the interest alive in the film. Chitrangda Singh is absolutely beautiful and acts her part out well. Dipak Tijori is good but veteran actors with talent like Kabir Bedi and Nafisa Ali are of no use to a film like this.
Verdict: The third film in the franchise Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster is nothing exceptional. Watch it if you're a fan of the franchise, but you will miss the first part as it was the best.