The self-awarded 4 stars on its poster notwithstanding Singham Returns delivers quite punch-filled sequel to the cops-and-politicians game plan Shetty and Devgn had assembled in the original Singham movie.
Everything is brighter bouncier and more urgent. There are speeding vehicles and hurling invectives, seedy politicians and morally ambivalent media persons who may or may not be the nation's conscience-keepers of the nation. One hard-boiled journalist played by Ashwini Kalsekar starts off smirking at Singham's societal reform and ends up eventually giving him those lovelorn looks that everyone seems to be inclined towards.
The world according Singham is a bewildering collage of diffused corruption. If you wish hard enough for the bad elements to disappear, they will do so....promise to God, and hope to die! But before the baddies are banished there many miles to go. Cars explode in midair with choreographed precision before the end for the arch villain, a cheesy fraud godman named Swamiji played by Amole Gupte, so loud and hammy you can cut his performance out of the film and put it on Comedy Nights With Kapil ...it would comfortable turn from sinister to satirical.
That is the tone and mood required in Singham Returns. Shetty, who likes his fans to get their money's worth, does the good-cop-bad-politician act with much visual gusto. There is an inbuilt virility in the storytelling. There are repeated aerial shots of Mumbai's skyline and highways dotted with cops' cars speeding self-importantly to their business. The bombs must have cost a bomb.
In one very impressively mounted sequence a battery of cops stride purposefully through a crowded roadway in only their vests and trousers in protest against the CM (Mahesh Manjrekar)'s orders to stop all anti-corruption action against the despicable godman-villain.
Can't be helped. You feel a surge of patriotic pride when pure Khaki takes on adultered Khadi to the beat of a deafening gun-boom which you hear only of you are a fan of Rohit Shetty's brand of chauvinistic heroism. Here in Singham Returns Shetty serves up a truckload of bravura moments meant to be the filmy equivalent of bravery medals.
The film opens with a declaration to the effect that a few thousand cops stay awake so that the city of Mumbai can sleep peacefully every night. This sentimental salute to the spirit of khaki protection is reiterated over and over again until it's drilled into our sensibilities like an inspirational tattoo engraved on the skin which doesn't quite reach the soul.
There are some well-written sequences (after the bow-wow last week's release Entertainment Sajid-Farhad can take a bow) meant to squeeze emotional juice out of the action quotient where the lives of the downtrodden are rounded up for some melodramatic treatment. Two Maharashtrian actresses in two different sequences get to do the kind of outburst scenes that Shabana Azmi excelled at in her Shyam Benegal phase of her career.
But then the bray of Benegal is a far cry from Shetty's shindings. One really can't squeeze in a substantial drama into a film that embraces the din as its dearest ally. Cars and the hero move in dramatic slow-motion as the background music turns orgasmic and appreciative of the efforts put in by ---in the words of the credit titles-'Rohit Shetty & Team'.
One shootout near a rail track where Devgn/Singham's Anna Hazare like mentor Anupam Kher loses his life is brilliantly unselfconscious. The other stunts too are meant to impress, and we better not miss the point.
This film is an unabashed celebration of the team spirit, both on and off screen. The police force that our hero Singham runs is filled with sincere, honest cops who are ready to die on duty at the drop of a bullet. Lording over his khaki aides is Ajay Devgn. Calm controlled and fiercely impervious to melodrama even when the script demands otherwise. He is in-charge.
Kareena Kapoor as Devgn's girlfriend is as much of a comic relief as Sonakshi Sinha was in A R Murugadosss' Holiday. Playing a persistent hog who can eat and talk non-stop, she seems happy following Devgn around with a look akin to that which Joan Of Arc must have sported after she encountered God. Kareena is also part of the most annoying comic episode in the plot where she chases down her reluctant lover maneuvering an auto-rickshaw.
The supporting cast comprising some very talented actors like Pankaj Tripathi and Zakir Hussain is largely left to its own devices while the script and the director concentrate on building up the hero as a demi-god.
The halo is detachable.
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