Friday, August 26, 2011

#186: Singham

Jaikant Shikre, in Singham is a mafia don in Goa who has the police and the local MLA eating out of his hand. He murders and kidnaps people at will and the citizens are too scared to raise their voice against him. Jaikant is granted a conditional bail in a murder case in which he was the 'third accused'. The DCP, a spineless cop, informs him that he will have to travel to a village on the border of Maharashtra and Goa, called Shivgadh, to sign his attendance daily. Shikre is irritated but his cronies shrug it off suggesting that Shikre needn't attend in person. Except that Bajirao Singham, the hard taskmaster cop-in-charge of the Shivgadh police station would have none the proxy attendance business. Shikre has no choice and travels all the way from 'Goa city' and to nurse his bruised ego takes his whole gang along with him. A confrontation ensues between Singham (Ajay Devgan) and Shikre (Prakash Raj).

It is a sequence spread over not more than 7-8 minutes and has to be one of the most intense performances between two actors ever seen in Indian cinema. The dialogues are rabble rousing with the opposite camps of Singham and Shikre waiting in bated breath as the two have a verbal go at each other with their diatribe. It a classic protagonist versus antagonist situation and one of them prevails. The party aggrieved raises the stakes of this confrontation and the movie is about the other's response to that. If Rohit Shetty would've got this scene wrong in the way he envisioned it or if the dialogue writer went a little awry with his lines or if the DOP kept the visualization even a bit loose, I think Singham would've really struggled to sustain for a 144 minutes. But the team delivered on this particular sequence and Singham becomes quite a riveting watch from time to time after that sequence. The problem with Singham though is there really isn't any other high in the movie. Everything that is good about the movie, you get to see it in that scene- the choreography of action, the I'll-screw-you-bravado and above all the intensity of Prakash Raj and Ajay Devgan. From there on, if you expected a climax better than that sequence, you would be disappointed. Thus, ironically, in that one scene lies Singham's zenith and it's own undoing.

Given that this was a remake of the Tamil movie which starred Suriya in the lead, the casting in Hindi to begin with was spot-on with Ajay Devgan firing yet another sharp arrow from the quiver of his acting skills. Now we know along with Salman and Aamir, we will also suspend our beliefs if Ajay Devgan pulls off some logic defying stunts. In a way though, I must admit the action scenes could've been better with a daredevil like Devgan in the lead. Kajal Agarwal, the Telegu actress who makes her debut comes across rightly as the lady-next-door and plays an easy third fiddle to Devgan and Prakash Raj. There's only so much she has to do given that her most repeated scene is the part where she steps forward to take Devgan's revolver and shirt whenever he is bashing the bad guys. Prakash Raj, on the other hand, has a magnetic screen presence and his evil persona with a caricature-ish touch would make him quite a favorite with the masses.

Overall, Singham's packaging works more for itself than it's substance. Watching it without suspending reason won't make this enjoyable but try it and Rohit Shetty and team have done enough to make it worth your while.

Rating: 6.4/10

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