Directed by Rohit Shetty. Starring Ajay Devgn, Prakash Raj, Ashok Samarth, Kajal Aggarwal
This film is strictly for those with a (perverted) taste for simplistic masala entertainers replete with high-octane action sequences, high-pitched dialogue-baazi, et al. Singham is not just another example of ‘retro’ trend in action, there is history at play here.
Ajay Devgn and Rohit Shetty share more than just a few films in common. They share a legacy. They are the sons of fight-masters (not action choreographers, mind you) Veeru Devgan and MB Shetty (world-famous in India as the dreaded villain Shetty), respectively. Singham is their NOX boosted, adrenaline-pumped tribute to their dads. And the fight-sequences truly are impressive despite Ajay Devgn’s corny lion-claw signature.
Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgn) is a cop posted in Shivgad, the very village that he hails from. He has a way of sorting out the local problems. Jaykant Shikre (Prakash Raj), on the other hand, is a hardboiled criminal/politician with the entire state machinery on his payroll. The first half meanders along establishing that each is the master of his own world. It is at intermission point that the two worlds collide and the film really begins. A chance event ends up pitting the two against each other, leading to a game of one-upmanship, loads of dialogue-baazi, high powered action sequences and a very out of place (for a masala action flick) climax.
This is film made for old Bollywood style signature lines and over the top fight scenes. A remake of a Tamil film by the same name, the onus of writing falls on Farhad-Sajid duo whose writing style was recently discussed here (http://bit.ly/pWocKF). That says it all. Among the actors, Prakash Raj, who has established himself as the villain du-jour in the masala-redux brand of flicks, plays to the gallery as expected, signature dialogue lines, et al. Ashok Samarth is most impressive as Shiva, the chief aide of Prakash Raj. Kajal Aggarwal is cutesy enough to serve the cursory romantic interest angle. Sonali Kulkarni effortlessly plays the justice seeking widowed wife of an honest cop who has killed himself. The rest of the cast hams through its performance, as expected.
Ajay Devgn walks in the steps of Salman Khan (Wanted, Dabanng, Ready) and has a go at retro-masala action brand of films. But Ajay Devgn is no Salman Khan. And thankfully, he knows that. He is aware that he does not have the brattish, irreverent, I-am-what-I-am and let-me-entertain-you attitude of abandon that makes Salman Khan’s ludicrous films so endearing. Without once straying into the Salman Khan territory, Ajay Devgn makes up for his lack of irreverence with his sincerity. The most relieving aspect of the film is that it never stoops to crass levels of rape and double entendre, usually mandatory to such fare. For all its loudness, Singham keeps it cringe-free, clean and family friendly.
Singham is WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) cinema at its most obvious. Dropping all contemporary pretenses, it regales in the self-imposed ‘we are like this wunly‘ take-it-or-leave-it spirit of Bollywood. For those craving for some old-world in-your-face action flick, this might be a guilty pleasure. Those who believe old school Bollywood was infra-dig, stay away.
<Tushar A Amin is the author of Bollywood Themes and former editor of FHM India. Follow Tushar on twitter: @tusharaamin>