There should be some sadness, some lingering fondness for the film that as many critics claim “brought animation to Pakistan”. But the sad truth is that there really isn’t much to enjoy in this franchise and 3 Bahadur: Rise of the Warriors, the last film from the series, makes a good case for why that is a good thing.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, the mind behind the animated series, can be accredited with a number of things: from being bold enough to venture into animation in Pakistan, to ensure that the films were decidedly Pakistani and dealt with relevant social issues. But she fails in making the film more than its sum of parts.
At the end of the day, it looks and very much feels like a low budget animated film and whatever social messages it is trying to impart come across as preachy. With a lead voice cast of Zuhab Khan, Arisha Raz, Bashar Amir, Mehwish Hayat, Sarwat Gilani, and Fahad Mustafa, the film has good voice acting. Some actors were almost unrecognizable, with their voices gelling perfectly with the character.
There were moments where the audio and animation didn’t sync quite as well but that is to be expected. The film’s animation was lacking but it was the brand promotion that was downright irritating. From McDonald’s to Olpers, the advertisements throughout the film were overbearing and adding Dettol Warriors felt really unnecessary.
Plot-wise, the film sensibly tackles water shortage and drought as aliens and other villains all wreak havoc. The action scenes in the film are also done quite well. The film nails the comedy part quite well with kids eating up all the humor the film offered. The characters were fleshed out and likable, and the energy was infectious.
It also helped that the film was paced well and the storyline ultimately tied up nicely. While The Donkey King leaned more towards teenagers and grownups than kids, 3 Bahadur has no qualms about catering to its age group, so the humor is suitable for kids but may not amuse adults. The music is also considerably weaker than the previous movies and although 3 Bahadur isn’t really a film you look at in terms of good music.
They have been able to have some appealing tunes in them before. Hadiqa Kiani and Asrar fail to hit the mark with their song being forgettable at best. Of course, there is a lot to love about the new film. The new characters in the franchise, Hayat’s Erna and Babushka (Nimra Bucha) are well cast and they shake things up for the Bahadurs in a way you may not see coming.
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The female characters in this franchise have always been strong and that’s prominent in this sequel too. That said, like the previous films there isn’t any character development. It is also a pity that the standard of the animation here seems to have fallen which is a shame especially considering that other animated films out this year (Donkey King and Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor) have fared so much better.
The emotions depicted on the characters faces leave a lot to be desired and one hopes that Chinoy’s future films work on this front. The animation may not have been so noticeable had the film not been playing with Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse, a Hollywood animated superhero flick that takes animation to whole new heights and will most likely nab on Oscar for Best Animated Film this year.
The message of the film about self-sacrifice and community hits hard and will surely be impactful for kids and the fact that the movie is set in a very recognizable Pakistan, means that kids will not only find it easier to relate to the movie and its three heroes but also hopefully implement the positive teachings of the film in real life.
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As always, the film is well-intentioned and is great that we get to see our world depicted in 3D on screen, but one really wishes that the 3 Bahadur: Rise of the Warriors had gone out with a bang instead of a whimper.
Usama Masood Ahmad is an entertainment writer and research analyst at Global Village Space. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.