Singham (2011)


"A humiliated gangster uses his influence and goon power to terrorize a newly transferred police officer."

    Subtitles aside, this movie is a complete blast. I understand that I probably lost some of you with the disclosure that it has subtitles, but for those of you who are still present you already probably now that each foreign place has a specific charm to its movies - china has Kung Fu, Japan has a lot of weirdness, and India has Bollywood for example. Well, in this case we are stepping more into Bollywood, which opens up a couple of avenues that aren't usually there for the walking when I go into the review step (such as a bit more playful and intentional use of musical numbers), so it's really like a double-stage level of enthusiasm for this one. The only real thing that makes me not  want to do this review is the inevitable horrible butchering of the poor actor's names I'm about to put forth...

    Jaykant Shikre (Prakash Raj) is a terrible man, a gangster of sorts who uses his power to corrupt or extort everyone he comes across in Goa. Such underhanded schemes leads to the suicide of a good cop - and a showing of just how corrupt the system is to the viewer when his widow tries to get someone, anyone, to bring justice upon Shikre. It's around this time that Shikre has to make an appearance in the town of Shivgad for unrelated charges.

   Within the town of Shivgad is a man like no other, a man who's very introduction of being and character is given to us in an elaborate song and dance number - Inspector Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgn). The entire town is like family to him, and he does his best to keep the justice and right wrongs, and in turn the entire town supports him as well - which our evil-doer Shikre finds out when he finally arrives to Shivgad to deal with his appearance for the charges. Before he gets there, we get treated to a city-dwelling native returning to the town with family in tow, including Kavya Bhosle (Kajal Agarwal), which leads to a large spin of events that ends with Kavya and Singham falling in love (as well as a few song and dance numbers). It's not long after dealing with Shikre that Singham finds himself transferred to the crook's city, in which trouble then begins proper.

   You see, angry over his treatment as a petty goon by Singham in Shivgad, Shikre has made it his personal mission to make Singham suffer a fate worse then death (much as he had with the officer before Singham who ended up committing suicide).  The rest of the movie then becomes quite a journey of adventure and over-the-top action scenes as Singham tries to clean up the city and bust Shikre - all the while without loosing some impressive thought lines about morals, character, and love.

"It's a pleasant touch that brings music more to the foreground..."

   The song and dance numbers are a pleasant surprise for someone who is used to the normal Hollywood affair, and it's only made better by the fact that these aren't just random encounters in the wild (like many musicals) but servants of the actual plot and emotions that should be occurring. When Singham discovers that he himself is also in love with Kavya (who earlier admitted her love for him in front of his entire family), it is elaborated to us in this manner, giving it a personal touch and making it slightly more entertaining than your average montage that really doesn't require any specific song - in which the song here directly applies to the situation. Another example is the very first introduction of Singham, in which the lyrics directly apply to him and his character, as do the events transpiring on the screen. It's a pleasant touch that brings music more to the foreground of emotional impact after reporting for so many movies that "I don't remember any of the tunes" or they simply "enhanced the mood" and functioned to the extent of their ability by doing so.

   The main character is much like the main receptacle through which all the world is given to us: his sense of burning justice drives the plot of the movie. From his actions, other characters develop (such as Kavya's father realizing the importance of his ties to family and worrying less about being so remarkably successful in the city) or degrade (as is the case of most of the crooks who end up getting busted). The plot itself brings up some thought inducing points if one chooses to think about that sort of thing - such as is it right to do wrong in order to bring about what is right? It adds a layer of depth to the events on screen, and makes you wonder how the character's will handle it - if you choose to do more than just enjoy the movie for its energy and amusement factor.

   Costumes here are also a bit out of the ordinary at times, thanks to it being set in India (where I'm sure the costumes would be more normal for viewers from there).  Of course, some of the song and dance numbers only help add a bit of diversity to the costume designs, so there is that too. Actors do a wonderful job acting, and from the tone of their lines I would infer they are doing a rather good job of acting (although I can't say too much about actual line delivery since I don't know the language). The language barrier is irrelevant for the most part though, as the actors do a wonderful job of implying the energy and mood into their roles that it brings the characters more to life.

" pulling someone out of a car as it tumbles through the air..."

    Action scenes are elaborate and over the top here as well, with stellar moments like pulling someone out of a car as it tumbles through the air over them after a crash. It gets to the point where one can't help but laugh at it, and yet it never ceases to be incredibly amusing to watch as you get that "Singham" theme playing in the back (to which it feels a bit like Shaft in extent). Although there are guns all over, they rarely ever are even used outside of a slight chase scene. It's a nice blend of amusement and seriousness, with martial arts abruptly ending in some "You've been naughty" belt-whipping.

   In the long run, this is a movie that I would  actually recommend to people, assuming you don't have a distaste for the main elements and subtitles. There is song and dance (roughly 3 or 4 instances of it, as a matter of fact), it is in a foreign language so you'll need to read, and there is some action within a plot that can get a little dark at times. For the vast majority of the movie though, you can sit back, turn off your brain, and just enjoy all the colors and (sometimes) nonsense going on. It's a good time, and I'm certainly glad I watched it.

Singham at IMDB

Singham (2011) (New Action Hindi Film / Ajay Devgn / Bollywood Movie / Indian Cinema DVD)
Starring Ajay Devgn, Kajal Aggarwal, Prakash Raj, Ashok Saraf, Sonali Kulkarni