The trend of atypical masala entertainers began all over again with WANTED, which was effectively emulated by the super-successful DABANGG. The larger-than-life hero knocks down 50 thugs and sends them flying in the air with just one punch. He romances the heroine. Puts his life at stake by catching the bull by the horns. Emerges victorious in the finale... Come to think of it, the Indian audience is starved for true-blue masala entertainers that were admired and revered in the 1970s and 1980s. Oh, can we ever forget the serpentine queues outside cinema halls to watch those movies, starring our fav stars? With SINGHAM, the Ajay Devgn - Rohit Shetty team goes back to their roots; both started with action films, if you recall -- PHOOL AUR KAANTE and ZAMEEN, respectively. SINGHAM is one of those earthy, traditional, uncomplicated masala movies that most of us grew up on. The protagonist of SINGHAM is not the desi version of James Bond, nor is he any kind of a superhero.
SINGHAM pays homage to the action films of 1970s, which was known for the heroism, death-defying action sequences and pulse pounding thrills. It's an acknowledgement to one of the most successful genres of Bollywood -- action movies -- known for the trademark good versus evil themes and well choreographed stunts. Unlike many films recently, SINGHAM revives memories of the bygone era that stressed on raw action and was rich in fist-to-fist combat scenes. In fact, it has traces of action that Ajay's father [Veeru Devgn] and Rohit's father [Shetty] immortalized in their movies. But SINGHAM is a film of today, hence the stunts are extremely stylized and polished in keeping with the times. It's raw power presented in a slick demeanor.
Since the time the first promo of SINGHAM went on air, for some strange reason, I've heard people calling it yet another adaptation of DABANGG. The sole similarity between the two films is that both Salman and Ajay wear uniforms in the film. Also, like DABANGG, it's a hero-villain drama. But beyond these two factors, there's no commonality actually. For those who aren't aware, SINGHAM is the remake of the Tamil hit SINGAM, a role made memorable by the towering talent Suriya.
SINGHAM works for varied reasons: The conflict between the protagonist [Ajay] and antagonist [Prakash Raj], the high quality dramatic scenes, the raw action and of course, it mirrors the viewpoint of the common man on the rampant corruption, fraudulent politicians and spineless goons. In short, SINGHAM works as an entertainer, a complete package and if I may say so, it's Rohit Shetty's best work so far.
The backdrop is Shivgad, a small village on the border of Maharashtra and Goa. The film tells the story of an honest, diligent cop Bajirao Singham [Ajay Devgn], who fights against injustice and prejudice using his own ethics and principles. A sudden strike of destiny sets up Singham against the powerful criminal/politician Jaykant Shikre [Prakash Raj], challenging his morals and beliefs. Jaykant's powerful planning and force makes Singham land up in the ruling city of Jaykant Shikre, where he leaves no stone unturned to make Singham's life a nightmare to live.
Singham's supportive girlfriend Kavya [Kajal Aggarwal] and his tryst with late Rakesh Kadam's family [Sonali Kulkarni] makes him realize the importance to bring a change in the system by eradicating the root cause -- Jaykant Shikre -- by not going against the law of force, but by being a powerful part of it.
Though a remake of a super-successful film, director Rohit Shetty ensures that he keeps a tight rein on the writing of the film throughout those 2 + hours. Oh yes, the hero is spotlessly white and the villain, all black, but despite the fact that you know it all, there's no boring or humdrum moment at all. In fact, the drama and also the execution of the written material keeps you completely hooked to the proceedings. Also, Rohit proves that he can deliver a masala flick with as much ease and proficiency as he can deliver a slapstick comic caper.
I'd like to make a special mention of the action scenes [designed by Rohit Shetty and executed by Jai Singh]. At a time when most film-makers opt for action directors from abroad for gadget-driven thrills, SINGHAM goes for the desi flavor and it works luminously. The raw, hardcore action is easily amongst the high points of the movie. On many occasions than one, you have your hearts in your mouths while watching the scenes and what makes it really special is the fact that Ajay has done those death-defying and hazardous stunts himself.
For any good versus evil film to click, it ought to have the protagonist and the antagonist on the same podium. In SINGHAM too, it's not just the hero who's powerful and mighty; the villain is equally ferocious. That's what makes the conflict all the more enjoyable -- it's a fight of the equals. Besides the sequences involving them, a number of dramatic sequences leave an indelible impression. Like the sequence when Ajay bashes up the goons who misbehave with Kaajal in a movie theatre. Also, the sequence between Ajay and the minister [Anant Jog] is terrific. And, of course, the finale, which is simply outstanding. The writing [screenplay: Yunus Sajawal], in a nutshell, is aimed at the masses and works big time.
But even roses have thorns and the aspect that doesn't really gel is the romance between Ajay and Kaajal. In fact, the romance-and-song routine comes across as a road block and mind you, it has nothing to do with the lack of chemistry between the two actors. It's because the drama is so powerful, commanding and omnipotent that you want every other aspect to be sidetracked. Ajay-Atul, who came up with a lilting soundtrack in the Marathi film NATARANG, don't get the opportunity to deliver a sparkling soundtrack in SINGHAM. Yet, the title track [rendered with a lot of fervor by Sukhwinder] is the sole track that works. Dudley's cinematography is eye-catching. Farhad-Sajid's dialogue are the icing on the cake, especially during the confrontational moments. I'd like to make a special note of Amar Mohile's effectual background score. It deserves immense praise!
The title means 'Lion' and Ajay is in the centre of the battle between good and evil. The embodiment of screen masculinity, Ajay enacts the central character of a righteous, hardhearted cop with flourish. He brings alive on screen a larger-than-life hero character with determined conviction, which renders you thunderstruck. One of the few actors who underplays his part admirably, he returns to the over-the-top-action genre of films with this one. In a nutshell, his performance plays a pivotal role in carrying the film to the winning post.
Kaajal doesn't really get much of an opportunity to prove her talent and the film cannot be regarded as an ideal Bollywood debut for her. However, it's not the amount of screen space that she gets, but it's all about the quality work she delivers in that much time and space. This may be an out-and-out Ajay-Prakash Raj film, but she makes her presence felt nonetheless. Prakash Raj is simply marvelous and in fact, walks shoulder to shoulder with Ajay in dramatic scenes. The film has a number of actors in supporting roles and the ones who register the maximum impact are Sonali Kulkarni, Ashok Saraf and Govind Namdev. Amongst negative characters, Ashok Samarth, Murli Sharma and Anant Jog are most effective. Sudhanshu Pandey leaves a mark in a cameo. Sachin Khedekar's comedy track doesn't work at all.
On the whole, SINGHAM is a full-on masala film that works big time for varied reasons: The energetic drama, the terrific confrontations, the raw stunts and of course, for the three 'heroes' -- Ajay Devgn, Prakash Raj and director Rohit Shetty. It's a complete package of entertainment for the masses and devoted fans of masala movies. This one is sure to roar at the box-office. It has Blockbuster written all over it!