“Singham Returns”… The cop runneth over

Posted on August 20, 2014


Spoilers ahead…

How do you know you are in a South-style masala movie? One clue is the sound – and not just the general background score that makes it appear that a space shuttle is being launched behind your seat. It is also the sound associated with specific actions, which, in real life, would produce no sound at all – like the picking up of a cell phone, or a glance being directed at someone. A glance. If an alien species watched these movies, they’d end up thinking that the motion of our eyeballs was controlled by typhoons. It follows, then, that these films tell stories that are equally subtle: good is good, bad is bad, and grey is something you find at the end of a Maharashtrian surname. Singham Returns, the new Rohit Shetty movie – new only in chronology – is content to coast around this ambit. He’s so reluctant to tamper with a winning formula that he even replicates the framing device of the earlier film, where an honest cop (with a wife and a young child) ends up dead and suspected of corruption. The only surprise here is… is… uh…

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Why do these films have to be so predictable? Consider the stretch where Evil Guy hatches a plan to scare three Good Guys. We hear about this plan first, and then we see the attack on Good Guy 1 (a child is abducted), then on Good Guy 2 (the family is shot at), and, finally, Good Guy 3 (a car is wrecked). Why not show us these three violent acts erupt out of nowhere, leave us wondering about the who and the why, and then take us to Evil Guy and his evil plan? Before a scene ends, we know what’s going to happen in the next, and the next… What is Singham Returns about? We don’t have to wait long for the answer because we’re shown, right at the beginning, a press conference where the issue of black money is raised. It’s worse because the characters are the same: corrupt politicians, crooked godmen (Amole Gupte plays one with some glee), honest and beleaguered cops, the fearless reporter with a thing for bindis the size of crop circles…

As DCP Bajirao Singham, Ajay Devgn is his usual dour self. There’s no charisma, no looseness, no sense of enjoying himself – he treats the role like a task that needs to be ticked off. He has a new heroine: Kareena Kapoor Khan. What happened to the character Kajal Agarwal played in the earlier film? I found this puzzling because the rest of the cast (Singham’s parents and so forth) is the same. Maybe there was an explanation somewhere that I didn’t catch because I was trying to protect my eardrums from permanent damage. A couple of shootouts are imaginatively staged, and there’s a nice bit of comedy involving a selfie. I liked the drama with the impoverished mother who lashes out at Singham, asking him if he has the balls to go after the really powerful. I remember thinking that this scene wouldn’t fly in a Tamil or Telugu movie, whose heroes have it written into their contracts that they are never going to be insulted. At least inside the movie. At the hands of critics and on social media, it’s another matter altogether.


* the sound = see here
* Kajal Agarwal = see here

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi