Saturday, August 16, 2014

Singham Returns Movie Review : Once A Cheer, Twice Too Much

Who am I to write about a film that just had the biggest opening day Box Office collections of the year yesterday? 

Rohit Shetty's Singham Returns is the latest offering from the franchise, and it is completely different from Suriya's Singam 2, which came out last year. Yes, Ajay Devgn is back with arguably the most deliciously macho character of his career. I had thoroughly enjoyed Singham (2011), the confrontational dialoguebaazi, the loud action and the performances. Somewhere in my reserves, I expected Singham Returns to give a similar or a better high. But this one just seems a mere high of decibels with not much to root for. Alas, while I was cursing myself for missing an early morning show, and then cursing the theaters for being housefull later in the day, waiting patiently for the next show, Singham Returns had only so much to offer. Though the audience around me was on their feet, applauding and cheering, at the end of the film. I will try and explain later why. 

In my opinion, there is a basic formula to do a formula film and Rohit Shetty should know about it, considering he has doled out fairly enjoyable fares in the past. You need not have a groundbreaking story, but your screenplay and direction can treat in a fresh innovative way which makes it a fun watch. Singham Returns was already encumbered with the lack of a fresh central character, being a sequel, but the very meat of the character itself was potent enough to extract juice from him in interesting situations. Singham Returns picks up the story of BajiRao Singham, who is now the DCP of Mumbai, as he is thrown in to battle a pretentious Baba (Amole Gupte) and his conniving partner politician (Zakir Hussain), post the death of an honest head constable from Singham's team, who is being framed by the villains to hide their felons of money laundering and murder. Good enough meat to kickstart a story but the tropes used by Shetty are very similar to the first film. The action set pieces occur at similar intervals and points, the mechanisms used by the goons to scare the good people are the same, the confrontations between Singham and Baba are staged similarly, and what not. Once again, the writers fail to blend in the love track of Singham with the central plot. There is too much laziness in Yunus Sajawal's screenplay which cannot be made up by Farhad- Sajid's dialogues. The story itself loses sight of itself in the event of eradicating corruption. In Singham, Baji Rao was a village boy whose life was invaded by a political goon from outside and he fought for his village, but when he failed, he seeked the support of his force to help him overcome the opposing forces. Singham Returns almost legalizes public action imminently, casually justifying taking the law in your hands multiple times. Yes, not the right kind of message for an audience as mentally nubile as in India. The last and the most common problem of most films in this genre is female regression. Save for the last scene when female cops come out to fight, almost all through the film, Shetty shows every single female either doing nothing or just household chores. Also, in one scene, the writers-makers unified voice clearly speaks up as they classify females who drink and smoke as 'bad character'. That.

However, Singham is a steafast character who stands against corruption, almost like a superhero. And as mentioned earlier, the premise of the character itself packs a valid punch as you love to see him beat everyone to pulp or mouth palpable one liners as he hooks his sunglasses to his belt. To enunciate the same, Shetty notches up the action in this one. They are not merely cartoonish, but come with a textured grit. Loads of guns are fired, loads of cars blow up, loads of lathis are used, and still he manages to put in pure fist fights. The dialogues are still clap-worthy as Singham answers quotations from Bhagwad Gita with ones from the Indian Penal Code. Dudley's cinematography is drop-dead gorgeous as they take a gazillion copter and crane aerial shots of almost everything. The canvas is huge and so are the budgets lent by Reliance Entertainment, in collaboration with Ajay Devgn Films and Rohit Shetty Productions. Steven Bernard's editing is not at its best, as the film looks a tad bit long at 141 minutes or so. Music in this one sees a significant turn in genre as Ankit Tiwari, Jeet Ganguli and Yo Yo Honey Singh are roped in to score. While the first two do add some of their flavor to the film, Yo Yo composes one of the worst songs of his oeuvre as the title track. Background Score of Singham Returns is one long ganapati visarjan. Lastly, a very special mention for the casting director of Singham Returns who must be duly rewarded for putting together one of the worst ensembles of extras and supporting characters. Completely camera-unfriendly actors show up for a minute or two and take a dump on the screen all through the film. 

Singham Returns belongs to Ajay Devgn and the man lives up to the conjecture of the complete man. Never a shred of doubt in his eye, Devgn walks with candor, talks with valor and feels with half a tear. He is pitch perfect, as he holds the film cohesively which would have otherwise fallen apart. We may always complain that Indian Film Industry is star-driven, but then when you see a film like this, and you see a full house cheering on Devgn, one does wonder if he has a mystic power. Kareena Kapoor, in a bid to revive her flailing career, has unfortunately wasted herself here. There is absolutely no scope that she gets in this film. Amole Gupte's hammy parlance is likable at times but never enough to hate him religiously. Zakir Hussain is getting typecast in similar roles. Anupam Kher and Mahesh Manjrekar have taken themselves too seriously. Dayanand Shetty (Daya) is top-notch as he breaks down a door in the climax. 

On the whole, Singham Returns is power-packed, grittier and louder but not necessarily better or satisfying. It leaves a lot to desire for me, and I would rate it Shetty's second weakest film after Golmaal 2. The well-meaning plot ultimately turns into a risky advice. However, no one gives a flying fish to what I just said as the film has raked in almost INR 30Cr on day 1, as we speak. As I mentioned earlier, a standing ovation was given to the film when I watched it. I think we, as a nation, are okay as long as our onscreen heroes seem to solve a problem because we cannot in our real lives, whatever it takes to do so, even breaking the law. We stand up and applaud when someone breaks the law because we do it ourselves. We are also okay with mediocrity as long as there is a vicarious masochistic pleasure of beating the evil. Good family outing yeah? Now go watch Singham Returns because me telling you not to wont stop you anyway!

Rating - 2/5

Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here

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