A few years back a friend asked me if I had any excitement for Conan The Conquerer, the proposed continuation of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan movies. To this I said, The movie will probably start with an old Arnold sitting on the throne. In his thick accent he'll say, "Let me tell you about one of my adventures", and the rest of the movie will go into flashback mode with a bland (Jason) Samosa playing Conan. At the end, we'll be returned to seated Arnold, who bids us part with, "In the sequel, I will tell you about another of my adventures."
MSG3 isn't that remote because all the lead roles are played by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan (who now also calls himself Dr. MSG, having in the interim has picked up a doctorate, probably one of those honorary thingummies no-name Indian universities fling about like so much confetti). But Pitaji has succumbed to the lure of needlessly splitting a movie into multiple instalments.
The opening was hearteningly explosive. Dr. MSG as the star agent of (I kid you not) Lion Heart Investigation Agency, takes out a batallion of inept terrorist-kidnappers (wielding bright yellow or mauve hued oversized plastic guns) with a sword that morphs into a grenade launcher cum laser pistol, and later shrinks into a pen. With characteristic subtlety they don't mention the device that allows him to change his shoes in the midst of combat (surely not a continuity error!). Agent Pitaji also has a plastic kit-bag that transforms into a souped-up bike he proceeds to do wheelies on for no particular reason. The LHIA seems to house a conference room dedicated specifically for his sycoph...erm, colleagues to pay tribute to his awesomeness (to which he in the most reluctant and mild manner says, "Chamchagiri band karo, yaar [Stop the spooning, pals]"), since for actual business they move to yet another place.
In the 'actual business' conference room we are introduced to the bad guys of the movie, alien races from 4 different planets, all of whom favor art decor picked from the Ramsay studio scrap sale and lightbulb-studded couture a la Amitabh Bachchan from Yaarana, differing only in the color-code. Agent Lion Heart proceeds to give a projector presentation flashback of how in ancient times he as Commander Sher Dil (See the subtle connection?) dealt with the aliens.
The flashback would have been more than acceptable as a snappy half hour max interlude, breezing through the CG-aided exploits of medieval-era MSG. Alas, this is the rest of MSG3, now matching the pace and tone of a Ramanand Sagar tele-serial. Yes, ineptitude as a benchmark is consistently adhered to, and there are bits of campy fun, like when he grapples with astonishingly shoddy CG elephants, snake-men and Gorilla Grodd wannabes, but it gets repetitive and has a decidely 'meh' flavor. You keep hoping for the flashback to be concluded and for the further adventures of Gurmeet Bond, but all you get at the end of 2 hours is an announcement for the next part. Disappointing.
Just before the film, me and my mum (who probably hates me for conning her into this) were the only people in the cinema. But shortly after the credits rolled, a whole mob of rustic punjus sauntered in filling most of the hall. I think they were holding free tickets since one of the leaders was directing someone on the phone to herd people to some Kohinoor theater, since this one was already spoken for.