July 22, 2011 6:44:03 pm
Director: Rohit Shetty
Cast: Ajay Devgn,Prakash Raj,Kajal Aggarwal
Ajay Devgn has always been an action star. Thats how he came into the movies,back when he was the unhoroscopically-challenged Devgan. He proved he could throw a mean punch. At which point he proceeded towards serious stuff,and soft soap. Then he discovered broad comedy,and stayed with it for a long while. This week,hes back to where he started,with a ripped torso rising slo-mo to the beat of a thousand drums. In a post ‘Dabangg’ world,if you want to fly solo,that is the only way to go.
Watch ‘Singham’ to know how true that is. A remake of the Tamizh ‘Singam’,in which Suriya did the muscle-flexing,Devgns latest re-positions him solidly as the male action hero who conquers the mass audience in a way no one else can. Bajirao Singham is an honest small-town cop with the obligatory girl-on-the-side,but his main job is to go up against the big,bad corrupt neta. Fearlessly. Single-handedly.
What you require from a film thats thus set up is very little –fast and furious action,a brawny hero who kicks butt in novel ways,and a villain whos vile enough to be quashed minus mercy. As Bajirao Singham,Devgn roars satisfactorily,even if there are places you feel hes trying too hard to scowl-and-growl,and the effort is making him come off a tad tired. Its almost like Devgn the star is going though the motions of this lurid concoction,telling Devgn the restrained actor to shut up and sit quietly back down,so you get some sequences which are completely true to the film,and others where you can safely join Devgn in holding your collective heads,and stuffing your ears with your fingers,as the film thunders on.
Which brings us,appropriately,to the villain. Prakash Raj shows us exactly how to play the baddie in a film like Singham. Raj goes at each scene full throttle,delivering dhamaakedaartaali–seeti dialogue with the kind of chomping delight that is exactly right for the role. He out-blusters Devgn every time they get into a face-to-face encounter ; the latter then has to resort to thrashing the bad guys with his belt,and bashing their heads in. That is the only way it can be a no-contest.
I have loads of time for well-made ‘masala’ entertainers in which the hero is invincible,corruption gets a smack on its face,and bad guys get ground into the dust. But ‘Singham’ fulfils only some of our yen for such films,because the ‘tadka’ used to spice up the familiar ‘masala isnt enough : the new girl ( Aggarwal) is a bore,just another in the endless line of leading ladies trying to make it in Bollywood,having scored a couple of hits down South ; the songs are unremarkable ; and the supposedly romantic sequences slow everything down. Also,the comedy tracks are more miss than hit : how long will it take for Bollywood directors to realize that a lot of whats funny in Tamizh just doesnt travel well in Hindi?
Singham works in bits and pieces,only when Devgn gets fully into his stride,squaring up to Raj as he hits the high notes. The rest is just stitched-up scenery.
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