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Movie review ‘Singh Is Bling’: This Singh makes you cringe

Published Oct 3, 2015, 11:28 am IST
Updated Mar 27, 2019, 3:12 pm IST

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Lara Dutta, Kay Kay Menon, Yograj Singh, Rati Agnihotri, Pradeep Rawat, Arif Lamba, Anil Mange, Kunal Shashi Kapoor
Director: Prabhu Dheva
Rating: 1 star

I’m really struggling here. Singh is Bling? Hain?! Meaning what? That the turbaned gentleman this film is about is actually an expensive green sequinned short skirt, an apparition who is really a Tarun Tahiliani bridal lehnga-choli ensemble, or that he’s a rhinestone encrusted beefcake? What? Really, what? What does Singh is Bling mean? How can Singh, presumably a human being, be bling? Is it just that anything which rhymes goes, even if it’s gibberish?

If so, then here’s mine — Prabhu is hagu. Except that mine means something. It communicates what I think — that Prabhu Dheva the director is potty. That he’s made one more shitty film which should have been flushed the moment it was defecated but wasn’t. That we have to now suffer his stinking, disgusting excreta because it has a Bollywood star and a hottie from pardes. The camera swoops in like Guru Gobind Singh’s Baaz, on cattle in a haveli in Punjab to catch them talking to one another.

What follows is a montage about all that’s balle-balle in Punjab — the sights and sounds of Hola Mohalla. Its centrepiece, of course, is Akshay Kumar’s daredevilry. He has agility, skill and a disarming goofiness that’s like a pink plume spotlighting his endearing persona. For a bit the film seems rooted in this land and its crazies — it’s a world where men and women are defined by honour, moonch, pagri and pyaar. It’s also a world where fathers have for centuries abused their sons thus: “Oye, gadhe de puttar”, “Oye, ullu de patthe”. Never once pausing to think that, errr, I may be, you know, calling my self ullu, gadha, khota Arthaat, not very bight sparks sprout here. Here IQ runs low, but EQ very, very high.

That’s exactly who the Singh we are concerned with is. Raftar Singh (Akshay Kumar) is a loafer, slacker. By way of two episodes, one involving a tick that he and his mummyji (Rati Agnihotri) share, and one involving Mufasa the lion, it’s established that he is, a) dim; b) fearless, but only because he’s dim; c) funny, but only because he’s dim. But, he does full izzat of his daddy. So much so that every time his daddyji appears, Raftar immediately squats, potty style, his head hanging down. Fully fed-up father sends him off to Goa, to work at his friend Kripal’s casino.

Cut to Romania where Sara (Amy Jackson), the daughter of a mafioso (Kunal Shashi Kapoor), is hit upon inappropriately by a junior mafioso’s off-his-rockers son, Marc (Kay Kay Menon). Sara beats up Marc and his daddy makes him say sorry. Marc is pissed off and this is the flimsy plot device on which the film rests. Don daddy, unable to protect his daughter from Marc, sends her off to Goa, to his friend Kripal. Raftar is put in charge of Sara, a task he mismanages with the help of his two friends who are never introduced to us properly.

They can’t speak English, and Sara knows no Hindi. So a translator, Emily, the shamelessly hamming Lara Dutta, arrives in tutu skirts and mistranslates. The film now moves in circles — people arrive to attack Sara, Sara beats the crap out of them and in her idle hours looks for her long-lost mommy. All the while Raftar is falling in love with great raftar, while Emily undertakes nightly jaunts that involve disrobing and a lethal coconut move. If you love Bollywood, you’ll probably remember where and with whom you watched that brilliantly nonsensical film in 2008 — Anees Bazmee’s Singh is Kinng. It was hysterical.

Most cultures have to invent superheroes. We have Sikhs.  They are the guys who will do anything. Bumbling simpletons with golden hearts, these are men who’d rather die than tolerate dishonour. Our Sardar characters are stereotypes rooted in this myth. It’s an Indian thing. It’s about the pagri. It gets us all mushy and proud. Always. So the job is half done when a character is called Singh. Singh is Bling knows this, exploits this, but does nothing else.

Raftar is a big, posturing man who is often saved by the quick-kicking Sara. She’s more fierce, more skilled, faster, stronger than him. Though a dubious lesson in women’s security is pegged on this, this is the coolest thing in the film and it works because Amy Jackson is both hot and good. She really rocks the fight scenes and then a saree. But for the most part, Singh is Bling is terrible. Unbearable actually. The film literally plumbs the depths of slapstick, at times even getting actors to slap each other with sticks to make us laugh. It’s pitiable, but figures.

I watched most Singh is Bling recoiling from the screen despite the fact that Akshay Kumar’s comic timing is good and his big boy goofiness adorable. Problem is that he’s not a character. He’s just a cute composite of buffoonery. Akshay Kumar did Singh is Kinng. And he was very good. Give him a script. Challenge him a bit. But that’s probably not a fair demand because Prabhu Dheva actually arrives to make clear his intentions. In a lavatory, he aims and sprinkles his tinkle on Akshay. I was wrong. Prabhu is not just hagu. Dheva re Dheva, he’s also susu.    



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