Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Singham: Ham, beef and not much else
Rohit Shetty’s “Singham”, a remake of a Tamil film, is a cop movie that is perhaps meant as a tribute to the 80s “angry young man” and the theme of the lone, honest police officer taking on the rotting system.
Ajay Devgn plays that honest cop — Bajirao Singham, a police inspector in a remote village in Goa who maintains peace and calm in the village by using his goodwill with the villagers. When he is transferred to “Goa city” (I always thought it was a state) after crossing paths with a don-turned-politician, Singham is confronted with a corrupt system, cynical co-workers and threats from the politician.
Singham decides that brute force is the only way he can counter those threats. He delivers a long, impassioned and utterly hilarious (unintentionally) speech to his fellow police officers. Singham convinces them the only way to confront the problem is to kill the politician and make it look like an accident. So much for ethics and transparency.
Director Shetty thinks it is OK for police officers to take turns kicking the backside of a minister (this is an actual scene) or coerce people into changing their statements, so long as the end seems to justify the means.
In one scene, a character even imitates Amitabh Bachchan’s character in “Zanjeer”, but given the amount of hamming, over-the-top acting and pedestrian dialogues this film is brimming over with, the scene seems almost farcical.
I almost felt Shetty thought to himself, “hey, if I can make over-the-top, nonsensical comedies like ‘Golmaal’ work, maybe I should try the same formula in a cop film”. Perhaps that is why in the climax scene, he has the entire police force of “Goa city” standing in the politician’s living room, discussing how to kill him, and even making jokes about it, while the politician himself cowers in fear.
It would be funny if it were not so cringeworthy.
Of the cast, Prakash Raj as the corrupt politician hams it up like there is no tomorrow. Actually, that goes for pretty much everyone in the film. Leading lady Kaajal Aggarwal is cloyingly sweet and acts well enough to put wallpaper to shame. Ajay Devgn seems to have used this film to showcase his beefy body. He manages to give off glowering looks sporadically to convince us of the angry young man tone of this film.
Watch this if you are a hardcore Ajay Devgn fan, but please don’t forget to carry your ear plugs along.