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Singam: Suriya’s ferocity makes it work!

July 5, 2010

Suriya’s 25th film, Singam is nothing short of a nightmare if you absolutely hate masala films. It’s unabashedly flamboyant and in short, the mother of masala movies. However, before you write it off thinking it’s yet another commercial potboiler which is crass and stupid, the knight in shining armour saves the day. Suriya is the knight and his armour is the Khaki dress. Directed by Hari, who had earlier made Saamy with Vikram, Singam dazzles with great exuberance. After her recent outing in Vettaikaran, Anushka tests her luck for the third time in Tamil and the lady luck certainly seems to have smiled on her. Singam narrates the story between a police officer, Doraisingam and his clash with a rowdy from Chennai.

Suriya stars as a police officer in his village and leads a peaceful life solving the problems of the village community. One day, he bumps into Shravya (Anushka) who comes over to the village to spend her summer with her grandparents. Soon, she falls for this good-natured police officer and proposes her love for him. Elsewhere, a rowdy in Chennai (Prakash Raj) turns into a kidnapping expert and spreads fear among the rich. However, a plan goes haywire and he gets arrested. Later the court orders him to travel to Dorai Singam’s police station for 15 days to ensure that he doesn’t go scot-free. Sparks start flying when they two come face to face. Prakash Raj is humiliated. How he takes his revenge and what does Suriya do in return, forms the rest of the story of this film.

I have always been a huge admirer of Tamil cinema. Whether it is Gautham Menon’s charming Khakha Khakha, Sasikumar’s intense Subramaniapuram or C.S.Amudhan’s hilarious epic Tamizh Padam, the respect for Tamil Cinema grew by heaps and bounds. Perhaps it is this respect for Tamil cinema which makes me watch even their dubbed versions in Telugu. (I saw Singam in Telugu, titled Yamudu.) If you have read most of the reviews of such dubbed films on the internet, most of the critics have come up with a term called “Arava Gola”. This overwhelming negative sentiment towards such films has always baffled me. The argument that Tamil cinema is too loud and hence a turn off, is probably the most popular one doing rounds these days. Thing is, it’s always been like that. Flamboyant, loud and intense- masala films don’t get better than this.

Few days ago, Suriya and Anushka along with Gnanavel Raja, the producer of the film were in Hyderabad to address a press conference on Yamudu. They had every reason to be happy about, after all Singam is one of the biggest blockbusters of the year so far in Tamil. Yet, Gnanavel Raja probably had spent few sleepless nights to ensure that the Telugu version of the film, Yamudu is customized to the taste of the audience here in AP. As a result of their hard work, the posters and hoardings of most of the props appear in Telugu. The story is set in Vizag and Rajolu. We know that it’s not true, but the effort to make it all seem real is noteworthy. When we asked Suriya, how he managed to differentiate himself from the role which Vikram had played in Saamy, he said their expectations from life are different in the respective films. Although both of them are policemen, Suriya’s bond with his family and village is a little too strong. He would rather take control of his family business (departmental stores) than work as a police officer. After having the seen the film, I couldn’t stop smiling at Suriya’s characterization. It reminded me of an , which levies down the rules for a typical Tamil film and what a Tamil hero does in the film. And Suriya fits into the description perfectly. No pun intended.

It’s been close to 13 years since Suriya made his debut and it was in Pithamagan where I noticed him for the first time. Although he had acted in Nanda and Mounam Pesadhey before that, Pithamagan pitched him along with Vikram whose career had skyrocketed after Sethu. Needless to say, Suriya was fantastic in his role. Later it was Gautham Menon’s Khakha Khakha which projected as an ultra suave city bred police officer. He was perfect in that role. Ghajini catapulted him into a different league altogether and Ayan made him even more famous. Singam was different; it’s probably his most ferocious outing till date. True to the title of the film, he hunts down the villains with ferocity, does no evil and is always a righteous man. That’s what heroes do. They are nice people and their characterization is so white that you feel ashamed for watching such films on a pirated DVD. Check out how the theme song of Singam has been shot. Don’t be surprised if your heart tells you that being a police officer is one of the coolest jobs you can do. Think about it, you can bash up the bad guys, the media laps you up, you get one of the hottest chicks around and the world is proud of you. A perfect life!

The film’s other main lead- Prakash Raj is at his best. He’s vulnerable but tries hard to safeguard his interests and he’s serious about his business. Towards the end of the film his intelligence is ignited and he takes the hero for a ride, but heroes are heroes; they have to win in a masala film. Vivek’s gags are hilarious, sexist and crude at times. Afterall it’s a boys thingy!

Anushka’s role in the film has got a mixed response both from the audience as well as the critics. Despite making her presence felt in the chaos, she has been branded as a glam doll who’s restricted to the songs. But isn’t it true that she’s the one who drives Doraisingam’s character forward? Isn’t it true that Prakash Raj uses her as a pawn to drive Doraisingam crazy when everything’s going in Doraisingam’s favour? From this perspective, Anushka’s role is well etched especially in the wake of Singam being an out and out masala film. And then you have the extra dose of glamour in the songs, some of which have been shot in Dubai and Oman. I was trying to search for the now infamous ‘rainbow’ masking in one of the songs. Surprisingly, I didn’t find any. Perhaps, the Andhra Pradesh censor board has gotten used to the excess cleavage shows, thighs, legs and smooching, that they wouldn’t bother to object to mundane things anymore. A job well done, monsieur. Now, would you care to explain why ‘Ye Maya Chesave’ was given a U/A certificate? “F*ck” was beeped and the smooches were aesthetic!

Hari’s direction and screenplay have been universally appreciated. His expertise in moulding a predictable film in a racy, edge-of-the-seat action entertainer is worth applauding. The heroism reaches epic proportions in the action sequences, but Hari has been careful enough to not make a caricaturish kichdi of this cop film. The rise of Doraisingam among the police ranks, his careful dissection of Prakash Raj’s empire has been painstakingly narrated, so that there’s no missing piece in the jig-saw puzzle. After Saamy and Singam, if Hari chooses to make another cop film, you can go watch it with blind faith that your intelligence won’t be harmed. His screenplay has been appropriately complimented by Priyan’s cinematography and crisp editing. The camera was either fit into Doraisingam’s thumping heart or one of those wheels in his police SUVs. Devi Sri Prasad, as we know, has mastered the art of foot tapping numbers. It comes as no surprise that music and songs in Singam are infused with good amount of energy.

Masala films have a problem though. It’s essential that you have an appetite for such films and it’s hard to convince others why they are so much fun to watch. The objective of such films is usually to entertain the audience to the hilt which would dive them to watch again and again. Minting money has always been the primary objective of commercial cinema. The art of making timeless classics is disappearing sooner than we think. Singam is not a timeless classic and neither does it tries to be one. It’s like a stuffed chicken filled with so much masala that leaves you craving for more, provided you like chicken in first place. A big thumbs up for Singam. And if you are someone who thinks the Khans, Kumars, Bachchans of the world are the best actors you have come across…watch out for RGV’s Raktha Charithra-2 this September/October. Suriya will blow your mind. There’s something special about his eyes. The internet generation has found its new-age Kamal Haasan who’s not afraid to experiment with his roles and physique. After Singam, I can’t wait to watch one of my favourite actors in Raktha Charithra-2 and Ezham Arivu!

Yours,

Hemanth
Follow me at twitter: http://twitter.com/crhemanth

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. yalkur permalink
    July 5, 2010 12:43 pm

    one of ur good reviews till date…
    n dude der was rainbow masking of de delicious anushka’s xcess cleavage in the song “naa hridayam..” i watched it on de 1st day.. n yes anushka was utilised well in de chaos.. but wat pissed me off were fights particularli wer suriya throws people defying gravity (as if balayya simha isnt enuf 4 telugu audience) and de last song stands out..

  2. mrinalini permalink
    July 5, 2010 2:47 pm

    good review. 🙂 surya n vikram do well, n luk good as police officers. have always liked them as policemen. 🙂

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