Movie review: Supercop ‘Singham Returns’ with a roar

August 15, 2014

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

He can punch legions of hired hoodlums into submission. Troublemakers on speeding bikes can’t get past him, for he grabs them by their collars without suffering so much as a sprain. His stunts are out of this world, because gravity bends to his will and friction doesn’t slow him down.

4Meet Bajirao Singham, the one-man army in director Rohit Shetty’s ‘Singham Returns’, a black-and-white world of sententious dialogue, over-the-top action, loud background music and mildly entertaining humour.

To quickly summarise the plot, Singham (Ajay Devgn) is Mumbai’s Deputy Commissioner of Police, a supercop blessed with infinite courage, phenomenal crime-fighting abilities and an unassailable character. Assigned the task of protecting upright politician Gurukant Desai (Anupam Kher), Singham comes in direct confrontation with Desai’s political ally, the unscrupulous Prakash Rao (Zakir Hussain) and his partner-in-crime — a wily, pot-bellied and all-powerful ‘godman’ called Baba (Amol Gupte). Singham must also try to clear the name of his colleague Mahesh, a low-ranked police official who was inexplicably discovered dead with a huge stash of unaccounted money.

There’s a lot happening in the movie but it’s hard to miss the director’s desire to simultaneously blame and exonerate people from all sections of society. So while you have a fake godman who preaches spirituality but is an alcoholic and a sexual predator in the privacy of his palatial home, you also have a mystic whose blessing turns the hero’s fortunes around. Journalists are shrill and slow on the uptake, but one of them becomes unusually supportive towards the police in the end.

Women are hysterical widows or mothers, but there is Bajirao’s girlfriend Avni (Kareena Kapoor) and a bunch of other women cornering Prakash Rao and warning him never to intimidate them again. And you have the idealist Desai as foil to the power-crazy Rao.

Despite its many obvious failings, “Singham Returns” is likely to strike a chord with the audience because it makes an effort to raise some important social issues. The portrayal of the nexus between politicians and men of religion, illicit funds and the yawning gap between the rich and the poor is often simplistic and ham-fisted, but suggests director Shetty might have his heart in the right place.

3The parts that I enjoyed the most were the action sequences, such as the one in which Singham and his men ward off an attack on a politician, and a gun battle filmed at the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, an eight-lane bridge over the Arabian Sea linking two Mumbai suburbs. Don’t miss the brilliantly shot part where Ajay Devgn gets rammed sideways into a vehicle under the impact of an exploding grenade a little distance away.

There’s nothing in Devgn’s portrayal of the tough policeman with a heart of gold that he hasn’t done a dozen times already. His threats produce an unintentionally funny effect, partly because he can’t deliver them well but also perhaps because most of them rhyme. The movie would lose very little if Kareena Kapoor’s performance as the garrulous, possessive girlfriend was done away with. Amol Gupte is a caricaturish villain who looks stupid and smug when he repeatedly provokes the angry hero. Anupam Kher is the most impressive of the cast with his effortless, understated performance.

“Singham Returns” is exactly what you would expect a Rohit Shetty movie to be. It holds absolutely no surprises, so go for it without expecting any.

(Follow Anupriya on Twitter @anupriyakumar; This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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