One would expect that at least one half of the royal couple of Madhavi Devi (Mahie Gill) and Aditya Pratap Singh (Jimmy Sheirgill) would have hung up their boxing gloves by now. But seven years after we were first exposed to their shenanigans, saheb and biwi are still locked in a dangerous power play, resolute in their plotting and politicking.

The commonality between all of director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s three parts is a twisted story and a Machiavellian twist at the climax. Love, politics and betrayal remain at the core. In each of the three episodes, revolving around an erstwhile royal house, the gangster has been different (Randeep Hooda in the first, Irrfan in the second), and it does not exclude the possibility that the king and his queen could be the real thugs, just in finer clothes.

Aditya Pratap Singh is in jail. His wife Madhavi is ruling the roost, enjoying her freedom and position in local politics. This time, screenwriters Sanjay Chauhan and Dhulia make the biwi the puppeteer. But for how long can she outwit her equally unscrupulous husband, who is hanging on to notions of lost grandeur?

The rivalry now extends to another royal house, which is experiencing its own complications. Uday (Sanjay Dutt), the exiled son with a questionable past, is returning home after 20 years. The news causes his father (Kabir Bedi) and younger brother Vijay (Deepak Tijori) serious heartburn. Only his mother (Nafisa Ali) and his mistress Suhani (Chitrangadha Singh) are delighted by his return.

Somehow, Uday and Aditya’s fates get interlinked, with their survival heading towards a dangerous game of Russian roulette. As always in this saga, there are innocent victims, such as Saheb’s second wife, Ranjana, played by Soha Ali Khan, who is almost completely side-lined with just three scenes. Besides Sheirgill and Gill, the other returning actor is Deepraj Rana as Singh’s loyal right-hand, who appears and disappears from the plot indiscriminately.

The most interesting characters remain the saheb and the biwi. The story works best when it focuses on the dynamics between Aditya and Madhavi. It’s the Sanjay Dutt track, with his family soap opera that’s largely caricatured, and the inadvertently comical addition of scenes featuring Bedi, Ali and Tijori, which tilts the movie off-balance. Let’s not even start on the variable use of the local accent and terminology, or several unexplained behavioural patterns.

A hat-tip to Sheirgill, who not only rocks a jodhpur and Nehru jacket suit, but also smoulders as the conniving king determined to hold on to fading glory.

The weakest of the trilogy, this story takes exceedingly long to set up the key players and their motivations. Dhulia does end part three neatly poised for a follow up. That might work too, as long as Gill and Sheirgill are at the epicentre and the gangster is not required to dance and sing romantic songs amidst sand dunes.

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