There’s a scene in the initial reels of 3 Bahadur: Rise of the Warriors where our three adolescent superheroes along with their school cohort take a field trip to ruins of a lost ancient civilization, while being chaperoned by teaching staff. An ageing tour guide, voice trembling with fear, points towards distant remnants of what is supposed to be a primeval portal to another dimension — the supposed gateway from which malevolent demons can enter. One expects this exciting build up to lead to more interesting plot developments, such as our ever-adventurous trio sneaking out of their tents for some investigation come nightfall. However none of that happens, and along with the kids, we promptly return back to the more mundane happenings in Roshanbasti.
Watching the movie, the audience will get a deja-vu of such a sequence at certain points in the film. Payoffs to potentially exciting developments never quite fully materialize, at least till the latter portions of the film, and at times, the narrative keeps travelling around in circles – plot-related and the quite literal ones around Roshanbasti — leaving the viewing experience somewhat wanting.
Coming on the heels of its two successful prequels, the third and final installment in the 3 Bahadur series has much to work with. The water table below the superheroes’ hometown is sinking, and there’s much talk of a pestilence plaguing the crops with potential to cause a calamitous famine. The kids’ superpowers are also interfering with their regular-everyday-kid experience, causing them and their families some amount of consternation. However, this pretty much summarizes the plot for at least half the film, with the relatively mundane happenings interrupted at welcome intervals by the spunky she-warrior from another dimension Erma and her nemesis Babushka. While the two ladies, suitably voiced by Mehwish Hayat and Nimra Bucha, respectively, get some screen time, their characters are never fully fleshed out, and at times appear contradictory. For example, Erma at one point strangles and decides to kill one of goons who abduct the super-trio, only to say in a similar situation later in the film that she can never kill anyone. Babushka’s character transformation with the plot-reveal at the end also strikes as somewhat abrupt.
That’s not saying the film is without its share of positives. The animation quality sees a dramatic improvement over their previous two films, with marked improvement in attention to detail and more lifelike human characters. The sound effects and background score are also suitably effective. And coming to voiceover artists, Mehwish Hayat does well as the strong willed alien warrior Erma, as do the actors lending their vocals to the three children.
However, the star of the show is without doubt Behroze Sabzwari’s Deeno, who gives the story its living, breathing core and without whom we would probably end up with a robotic adventure ride. His character goes through some soul searching through the latter portions of the film, leading the plot to its well-executed finale i.e. the final faceoff between Babushka and Erma. That sequence, which arrives following a series of twists and interesting plot reveals, is conceptualized intelligently, with use of sharp animation and (the at times loud) sound effects adding much pizzazz – though with one woman duking out another, it is not something the feminists in the audience will be rooting for.
The film features a colorful host of side characters, such as Erma’s jester-like monkey sidekick and Kamil’s pet dog, which kids in the audience will definitely find endearing. Also on the menu is an action filled introductory scene as well as a celebratory animated song-and-dance sequence. Also, thankfully, all the characters have something substantial to contribute to the plot, which when it does pick up especially towards the end, caps-off the film on a good note.
On the whole, 3 Bahadur: The Rise of Warriors makes for a wholesome viewing experience for the entire family. While its screenplay and plot development needed much work, there’s still enough in the film for everyone in the family to enjoy. The movie also features a very relevant underlying message about girl power as well as the importance of just being – normal. Yes, you read that right, and that coming from a superhero movie is definitely welcome.
Rating: *** (3/5)