Friday, July 22, 2011


Angry Man in Uniform

Bollywood used to have a few rules which collectively came to be known as the formula—the hero was heroic and noble, the heroine pretty and sweet, the villain was evil and had to be vanquished. The protagonist was rooted – to family, village and society.  Somehow, the Mumbai film industry, in trying to ‘cross over’ and woo the overseas market, lost this feel of the ‘mitti’ so films became increasingly opulent and superficial.

The Southern industry knew its target audience was local, and enveloped just a small tribe of emigrants who spoke the language and understood the culture.  That was why for a while the Bhojpuri industry blossomed. The industry has tried and tested various other formulae and with the success of films like Dabangg, realised that that the son-of-the-soil hero, still has box-office potential, and the old masala, like grandma’s pickle, is still pungent. Singham, like Wanted, Dabangg and many forthcoming action films, owe their origins to Tamil and Telugu cinema.

Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgn), the hero of Singham, says that his hands have been toughened at the plough.  His six-pack body looks like it was chiselled at the gym, phir bhi dil hai Hindustani. With refreshing lack of ambition, Singham is content to be posted at thecop station in his own village, where all he has to do is solve petty quarrels.There is a perfunctory romance too with perky city girl Kavya (Kaajal Aggarwal).

Then he takes on the might of Jaykant Shikre (Prakash Raj—hamming madly) a Goa gangster, who runs his criminal empire with cops andministers on his payroll.  Singham finds himself transferred to Goa, to work with a demoralised force, still smarting from the suicide of a colleague, who was framed by Shikre. His wife (Sonali Kulkarni) is fighting for justice.

Singham faces harassment from Shikre and his men, till he decides to fight to the finish.  The confrontations between Singham and Shikre are replete with old-style dialogue-baazi, and it is fun to watch the villain squirm and, at one point, when he is cornered, whine petulantly “you are cheating.”
When in real life, crime is uncontrollable, there is areassuring quality to a film that shows a cop doing his duty. Even if it is unlikely that gangsters would throw beer bottles at the enemy rather than bullets, or that one stern lecture would reform the entire corrupt police force. If there is violence it is of the comic book variety—when Singham hits a village goonda he flips back and then forward to land at the cop’s feet.  Gravity can’t do what wire-work can!

The film, directed by Rohit Shetty with flair, has some other plus points—no vulgarity, no profanity, no item number. Singham has the dignity of a police officer—no pelvis-thrusting dances for him… in fact no dances at all. The songs could have been cut out without affecting the film, the thunderous title track is more than adequate.

It’s the kind of film that is enjoyable because it is predictable. You know Singham will destroy all evil,  justice will be done, andat least for a few hours, all will be well with the world. 


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