Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Jimmy Shergill, Mahie Gill, Chitrangada Singh, Kabir Bedi, Deepak Tijori, Nafisa Ali
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, which released in 2011, nicely captured a time and place where ex-royals were struggling to adjust to a life without privilege, a life of fading power and influence. Once haughty men now clinging desperately to past glory. Within that world, writer-director Tigmanshu Dhulia spun a compelling yarn about a marriage beset by ambition, infidelity, and murderous revenge.
That marriage – between ‘saheb’ aka Aditya Pratap Singh (Jimmy Shergill) and his ‘biwi’ Madhavi Devi (Mahie Gill) – is still fueled by distrust, betrayal, and constant plotting, even as Dhulia’s unlikely franchise rolls out its third entry.
Picking up where the second movie ended, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 sees Aditya, imprisoned on a murder charge, working hard to secure his freedom, even as Madhavi, who now enjoys considerable influence as a Member of Parliament, work equally hard to keep him behind prison gates. The ‘gangster’ in the film’s title refers to Uday (Sanjay Dutt), the exiled, dishonorable heir of another royal household, whose return after 20 years has led to much drama in his family.
Uday somehow finds himself at the center of a Machiavellian conspiracy hatched by this unscrupulous, duplicitous couple that lies, cheats, and exploits each other and everyone else in their ruthless play for absolute power.
It’s an intriguing premise but Dhulia spends too much time on set-up, giving us a complicated, convoluted first hour that doesn’t really offer much to the film’s central plot. The story is littered with too many loosely etched characters…like Uday’s parents, played by Kabir Bedi and Nafisa Ali, and his dancer girlfriend, played by the beautiful but sadly underused Chitrangada Singh.
To be honest, several characters are shortchanged including Aditya Pratap Singh’s second wife, played by Soha Ali Khan, whose presence in the film amounts to a mere cameo.
The upheaval in Uday’s family caused by his return lacks any real depth or edge, not least because of the hammy acting by Kabir Bedi, Nafisa Ali, and also Deepak Tijori in the role of Uday’s younger brother. Dutt too appears disinterested in both his role and the film. Uday is a character who doesn’t belong here, and Dutt delivers a lazy performance as if to underline that point.
The film takes flight – only too briefly though – when it’s focused on Aditya Pratap Singh and Madhavi, who trade everything from scathing insults to revenge sex as an expression of their mutual hatred. Mahie Gill is in good form as the conniving ‘biwi’ in this warped marriage, but it’s Jimmy Shergill who owns his part as the ‘saheb’ determined to reclaim his legacy.
It’s a shame then that Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 never hits the higher notes of Dhulia’s earlier films. It’s a good reminder that a bigger budget and bigger scale don’t necessarily make for a better film. I’m going with two out of five.
Rating: 2 / 5