Singham: Such a mighty blast from the past
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Kajal Aggarwal, Prakash Raj, Ashok Saraf, Sonali Kulkarni
Direction: Rohit Shetty
Singham is such a mighty blast from the past, it leaves you reeling under its impact. Designed as a tribute to the pure, unadulterated action films of the Bachchan era, where a larger-than-life hero battled a mega-evil villain, with nothing but his principles and his bare fists, Rohit Shetty’s retro film leaves you goofy, grinning and clapping with glee as the rivals indulge in in-your-face encounters, laced with in-your-face action, peppered with in-your-face dialogues, brimming over with in-your-face belligerence and brawn. Truly, Singham leaves nothing to the imagination and makes a singular appeal to testosterone alone.
But there is a sense and a sensibility behind all the explosive action cuts which include believe-it-or-not shots of Ajay Devgn single-handedly felling an entire army of goons, time and again, but only after he has dutifully given away his service revolver to his girl friend (Kajal Aggarwal) who seems to be always there by his side for silent applause. Apart from the high adrenalin physical encounters, there are umpteen high drama chases, with cars flying helter skelter as Devgn displays his Formula l skills. Kudos to action director Jai Singh for giving contemporary cinema some of its most explosive and gut-spewing retro thrills, albeit done with a modern finesse.
Buttressing the excellently choreographed action cuts are the well-etched characterisations of both Ajay Devgn and Prakash Raj who emerge as one of the most dramatic rival duos of contemporary cinema. The high point of Singham is the fact that for the first time you have a hero and a villain who seem to be perfectly matched in their powers and their menace. More importantly, they seem to be hell bent on stealing the thunder from the other, each time they meet, creating some of the most bombastic encounters on screen. If Ajay Devgn’s Singham exudes power by largely underplaying the uptight cop, then Prakash Raj is absolutely mesmerising as the blackguard-on-the-edge, Jayakant Shikre. From their very first meeting in the distant thana of Shivgad to the final encounter in the edge-of-the-seat climax, the duo relentlessly give you high doses of pure masala entertainment. Please don’t go looking for experimental cinema and you’re sure to have the time of your life alternately cheering good against evil and evil against good. Both Devgn and Prakash Raj are picture perfect in eyeball-grabbing performances.
But what strikes an instant chord in Singham is the cop’s incessant battle against corruption and his relentless efforts to put an end to the politician-goonda rule. The aam aadmi’s battle fatigue against the corrupt Indian system seems to find a reflection in Singham and his little army of honest men’s mission against the unscrupulous high and mighty. When an entire village rises in rebellion against the all-powerful goonda, and later when an entire department unites to fight the war against corruption, the viewer finds vindication for it’s umpteen morchas and candle-light vigils it has recently conducted against the unprincipled and corrupt administrators. In that sense, Singham isn’t all retro stuff, since scam-tainted India finds a voice and a vision in this mainstream kitsch.
Add to this the high-intensity dialogues (Farhaad-Sajid) and the racy screenplay (Yunus Sajawal) of the film and you have Singham all set to scorch the big city and mofussil India screens with its high drama. A word about the romantic track between Devgn and Kajal Aggarwal: absolutely tepid. But thank God, it’s perfunctory to the main track.