Roaring Action On A Lion's Scale
By MovieTalkies.com, 23 July 2011
When Salman Khan trooped it out in Dabangg, he brought to Bollywood what it'd been missing for quite a while – the invincible action hero that only Sallu could have brought back into vogue. Of course, the audiences lapped it all up, and kicked off a spree of such films, all featuring the sort of leads that can send ten baddies flying with a single right hook. Ajay Devgn's latest, Singham, a remake of last year's Suriya-starrer southern hit, Singam, is more of the same, paying tribute to the actioners of the 70s and 80s, done in a convincing style.
Though some may say that we have only one Salman Khan, the panache that Ajay carries the role with lends the film quite some credibility.
The comparisons inevitable, Ajay Devgn's Inspector Bajirao Singham is just as muscled and six-packed as Salman's Chulbul Pandey, or perhaps even a tad more. The lionesque cop also happens to be the darling of his Goan village, Shivgad, resolving disputes in his own way, whether it requires paying off a crooked money lender out of his own pocket, or beating up goons in extended fights for eveteasing a girl, by taking her dupatta.
The action really picks up, though, when Singham runs into the villainous Jaykant Shikre, who can tolerate anything but someone hurting his ego. Shikre, a builder based out of Goa, has made a business out of kidnapping, extortions and forcing honest police officers out of their work and life. When the twosome meets towards the interval, it is a proverbial collision between a rock and a hard place. Shikre, humiliated by Singham's popularity in Shivgad, has him transferred to Goa city, his home turf, so he can give him a 'proper welcome'. Singham finds himself victimised by Shikre and his politico friends, and almost decides to quit the police force, before a chubby five year old hugging his leg in pleading makes him realise that he is a quasi-superhero who can single-handedly end all crime in Goa. Cue an impassioned speech from Singham about a policewale ki aukaad, and pretty soon, he has the entire police force backing him in a night-time operation to put an end to Shikre, in an ironically utopian, yet oddly satisfying climax.
Where some might find issue with 'Singham' is in the pacing of the moving, with Bajirao's character taking almost half the film before coming into his own, instead being occupied by comic cutscenes and romantic subplots. Though Bajirao's character packs quite a punch, this isn't unboxed till the second half approaches. Instead, Shetty stocks the first half of the film with some passable comic situations about police constables getting smacked on their heads with coconuts and industrialists with nicknames like 'Gotya'. The film finds a decent pick-up in the action sequences towards the middle, as both Shetty and Devgn find themselves on homeground, what with both their action pedigrees.
Another sore point for the film could be the setting that Shetty picks for it, setting it in the Goan Maharastrian heartland, and having Ajay carry off a Maratha character. Though Ajay does his best trying to mouth catchphrases like 'aai cha gavat', he seems distinctly unsure in those moments. But surrounded by a host of Marathi veterans in major roles, including the likes of Ashok Saraf and Sachin Khedekar.
As Bajirao Singham, Ajay Devgn's performance is equal parts bulk and bravura and the fact remains that Ajay is one of the best leading men in Hindi cinema. It is also a clear pleasure to watch him beat the bad guys to pulp as he does here, returning to action after many, many years.
Prakash Raj also excels in his role as Jaykant, though it is more of the same he's played before. Though ultra-talented actor seems to be content typecasting himself in roles such as these, the fact is that films like Wanted and Singham require exactly the sort of over-the-top villains that Prakash has patented.
Kajal Aggarwal comes in as Kaavya in a romantic angle that is as unnecessary as it is ill-conceived, put in here just to give Singham a few love songs to sing. The others, like Saraf and Murli Sharma, are could have been better used.
Ajay-Atul are a bit of a disappointment with their music for Singham here. Though the two have been responsible for some of the best in Marathi music over the past few years, the two don't quite hit the mark with this soundtrack and may have to wait for the upcoming Agneepath remake to earn their chops. Except for the title track, Singham, neither of the other two tracks, really warrant a mention.
Singham's plot is like one of those old grandmother's recipes that one is tempted to pull out every once in a while for a bite. While it may be easy to dismiss the film as standard formulaic fare for Bollywood, the fact is that even with old recipes, it takes quite some skill and a fine hand to get the masala just right, like Rohit Shetty and Ajay Devgn have here…