Starring: Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Lara Dutta, Kay Kay Menon
Directed by Prabhu Deva
The biggest achievement of Singh is Bliing is the effortless way in which it unites the north and the south of India. Under Prabhu Deva’s tutelage, the loud humour and melodrama that we have come to associate with the mainstream Telugu and Tamil cinema fits rather well with the raucous rowdies of Punjab. Proving that all of us are ultimately alike, united in absurdity. Why, Prabhu Deva even choreographs an elaborate song-n-dance number, completely south style, but with sardars. A lot of them in fact. Now, if only all that noise and boisterousness could also make us laugh. There is little to raise a chuckle, unless you find it incredibly funny when a character called Emily is referred to as Imli.
Not that looking for sense and sensibility would have ever been the intent here. Go for silliness and slapstick, and you will find it aplenty right down to the talking cows and dogs in a Punjab village. At the centre of it is our good for nothing but good at heart hero, Raftar Singh (Akshay), who keeps doing bhangra (as if sardars have nothing better to do in life) and supporting kabaddi in the local mela. He even transforms a dog into a lion (don’t ask how). And then he goes away to Goa to work with the owner of one of the offshore casinos.
Meanwhile, there are some new things happening. To be on the right side of the wildlife and animal rights activists, almost every scene shot with animals comes with a caveat that it has been shot in South Africa/Romania. India remains pure and pristine, no rules broken. As for Singh is Bliing’s portrayal of Romania, well it doesn’t just have horses and stud farms but is peopled by some strange characters: a weird villain (Kay Kay) who kills his own father with ease. Then there is a rich man with a failed marriage and clipped English accent (played by none other than Shashi Kapoor’s son Kunal) and a sad daughter, Sara (Amy), who craves for some maa ka pyaar when she is not exercising her martial arts chops on the many villains around her. She is the heroine who has to meet the hero in Goa for the story to move on. In exactly the way we’d imagined it would.
Sneha Khanwalkar’s popular song with the Nooran Sisters (Tung Tung) finds a pride of place. Kunal’s return is nice. And Akshay remains likeable with his winsome, open smile. And for a change, it is good to see the hero playing second fiddle to the heroine in action scenes. But it is equally sad to find the once glam Lara Dutta returning to the big screen post marriage and pregnancy as a batty, eccentric caricature. Wish the film wasn’t as laughless and boring when it was aimed to be precisely the opposite.