Sunday, August 24, 2014

Singham Returns -- a troubling action thriller about a vigilante-police officer

Mainstream Hindi films are not supposed to be taken seriously. They are supposed to mannequin-ish. Salman Khan's Dabangg works so well because it is not real, it is not serious. It is a wonderful farce. The farce as a matter of fact has become the leitmotif of mainstream Hindi films. Even romance is reduced to a farce. There are no serious romantic movies any more, and to find this out you have to see Salman Khan-Jacqueline Fernandez starrer Kick. Perhaps a quarter-century later, the cultural vampires will swoop down on these movies and conjure up ultra-philosophical and social interpretations. So, Rohit Shetty's farces like the Golmaal series, one of which starred Ajay Devgan and Kareena Kapoor. Singham Returns is a tribute to Mumbai police in the Bollywood fashion. So, what Shetty ends up showing is a police officer-cum-vigilante,and he does the job well by integrating the poor, helpless policeman and his family -- something that mainstream Hindi films extremely well with all the melodramatic ballast and succeeding in pulling the heart-strings. Of course, the mainstream Hindi film cannot afford to make the helpless, insignificant policeman as the hero of a film, but it does create a memorable portrait of the small man. Mainstream Hindi films have always done it through their portrayals of the Rahim Chachas. In Singham Returns we get that perfect portrayal of policeman, Mahesh Jadhav and his family.
Ajay Devgan manages to integrate his brooding self with that of the angry police officer.But it is the political characters in the film that create misgivings. There is of course the balancing act. There is the "Guruji" played by Anupam Kher, the righteous "leader" who guides his political disciples in government. And the fake "guru", someone who vaguely resembles Chandra Swami with his hair and ring-studded fingers. The problem with vigilante films is that they have right-wing tilt, and they come up in times of political troubles and uncertainties. So, the man with the gun in his hand and sense of justice and good feelings in his heart, he goes out to kill the gangsters.
Shetty in this film makes the characters derive their flavour from Marathi language and milieu and the film's hero is Bajirao Singham. It must be the case that Shetty was completely unconscious of any political and social connotations, a throwback to the 1970s. He is doing movie like the Die Hard series.

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