Film Review: Singham (Hindi version)

Directed by: Rohit Shetty

Starring: Ajay Devgn, Kajal Agarwal, Prakash Raj and Sonali Kulkarni

WARNING: Contains some spoilers, if you do not wish to know what happens, please revisit my review after viewing the film.

All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

My appetite for film is quite similar to my cravings for food – sometimes, I want a simply flavoured dish that quells a hunger pang, other times it is a particular taste that I am after and every once in a while, I like to pig out on something that is totally unsuitable and bad for me and therefore, totally irresistible! So, with film, whilst sometimes I am in the mood for the deep and meaningful, I can also be found watching a chick flick that is so bad its good (note to self: this is becoming a regular habit…) and feeling equally satisfied. Recently, Hindi cinema has had a dream run at the box office and offered a variety of films to suit all tastes, and to that end, following a dose of classy soul searching courtesy of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, I needed a masala fix and what better film than Singham starring one of my favourite actors Ajay Devgn?

Singham revolves around Bajirao Singham (Devgn), a dedicated police officer who peacefully polices his village and is known for his sense of justice and fairness. Through a mishap, he meets Kavya (Kajal Aggarwal) and falls in love with her. Meanwhile in Goa, Jaykant Shirke (Raj) terrorises the city of Goa with extortion and murder, and drives an honest policeman to kill himself with false charges of corruption leaving his widow Megha (Kulkarni) and her son fighting to clear her husband’s name. Eventually, Singham and Jaykant clash with inevitable consequences…

Anyone expecting standard masala here will not be disappointed – there are fantastic set pieces, cars flying everywhere, crazy but fun action sequences and fantastic monologues and confrontations that will have audiences clapping and cheering with abandon. But at the same time, there is a rod of steel running through the film which elevates it beyond the usual fare – there is timely and relevant social commentary on corruption in India as well as the role of the police force and the public in stopping corruption. In fact, having switched my brain off, I was surprised at how engaged and involved I had become with Singham and that really is testament to how well written and edited the film is; the momentum is maintained throughout and I couldn’t even grumble about the song in the second half which provided a little respite before building up to the climax.

Yes, there is a healthy amount of absurd to be found in Singham – pick any action sequence – but this all adds to the charm and character of the film. There has been a lot of noise made about how this film is like Dabaang (how does Dabaang find its way into all my reviews?!) which isĀ  partially correct – Singham definitely falls under the same genre and shares superficial similarities with Dabaang but without a doubt, they are two different films – not only is the morality of the hero more clearly defined in Singham but Singham also operates on a much larger scale conceptually and explores a different kind of darkness to Dabaang as well as having a different sense of humour. There are also some glaring continuity errors in Singham which gave me a few unintentional laughs.

Technically, Singham looks fantastic, with dynamic camerawork and lots of unusual angles to add to the ambience and movement of the film. I loved the in jokes and the theme song (which is still playing on loop in my head). There are no fashion highs to be found here though the styling is appropriate – Ajay Devgn is dressed head to toe in designer brands (Paul Smith anyone?) whilst Kajal keeps it simple with churidar suits with metallic and accent trims which are very wearable but I did fall for her gorgeous black and gold saris and lenghas in the Maula Maula song.

Performance wise, everyone is on fine form here – I was pleased to see Sonali Kulkarni in the film and thought she played the widow with dignity and strength – it was refreshing to see a different interpretation of a grieving widow where her weakness becomes her strength. I was blown away by Prakash Raj as Jaykant who exudes so much menace and evil in every scene that I was able to forgive the fact that we never find out his true motivation – is he just power hungry or pure evil? He delivers each and every line with absolute conviction and entertains in what is a three dimensional performance without those annoying glasses. I also loved his chemistry with Ajay Devgn which is electric and powers the film forward at breakneck speed. Kajal has precious little to do but she does it well, playing the comedy and romantic track straight up without irritating anyone and is noticed for the right reasons.

Without a doubt though, the film belongs to Ajay Devgn – a tailor made vehicle for his talent, this is a powerhouse of a performance with guts, energy and a genuine anger that burns through the screen. Right from the moment that he emerges from the water, Ajay is on top form and puts every inch of his being into the film, giving it heart and soul and bringingĀ  Bajirao Singham to life. In fact, Ajay is so good as Singham that not only is Singham a believable and likeable character but also one that gives the viewer confidence in the protagonist – that is to say, the film throws a huge amount at the character and it takes an actor of class and talent to be able to handle it and make it convincing and entertaining and Ajay smashes this challenge as easily as he jumps in the air and delivers a Singham slap on top of the head. I have always been an Ajay fan and feel this is yet another example of his fantastic acting prowess – like Aamir in Ghajini, Salman in Dabaang, Sunny Deol in Ghayal and even to an extent, Amitabh Bachchan in his angry young man phase, Ajay elevates the entire film from crazy to classy and in my mind, comes up with one of the top performances of the year so far.

I heartily recommend Singham to everyone and will be chasing down the original in Tamil as I am quite curious to see how this remake compares. Even those who are quite cynical and put off by the trailer will enjoy this Hindi version – there is a much smarter film than meets the eye but also a fun film – all the in jokes and comedy tracks are kept to a minimum so that when they are wheeled out, they have impact. And therein lies the key to Singham – whilst the film projects excess violence and masala, it keeps its intellectual matter to a concise and concentrated minimum which makes for a powerful combination and a great film. This is definitely a film worth seeing in a packed cinema and hopefully with an audience who get involved as there are plenty of moments to engage with and make the film an experience – in fact, the rowdier the crowd, the more fun it will be. A summer blockbuster that is worth a watch and is a dish that will go down well, whatever your taste in film may be – recommended.

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