Movies

Single screen saab

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MUMBAI: Anil Sharma’s Singh Saab The Great may as well have been a Punjabi film: much of the dialogue and songs are in Punjabi. This follows a week after Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s almost-Gujarati Ram-Leela, which had dialogue with Gujarati blend and just about every song and background songs taken from Gujarati folk music. If this is these makers’ idea of being different, they are succeeding only in limiting their audience. As for the rest, Sharma tries to cash in on Sunny Deol’s “dhai kilo haath” which now, with time, weighs three and half kilos, which he uses to take on hundreds of goons let loose on him by the villain, Prakash Raj. It is a simple story: Sunny is an honest government servant and Prakash Raj is a despotic evil man. Take it or leave it.

Sunny Deol is a Sikh gentleman who descends on village after village and town after town to cleanse them of villains, corruption and other such evils. But one day a journalist, Amrita Rao, barges into his office and starts accusing him of hiding from the law in the guise of a Sardar without having completed his 18 year jail sentence, which he was given along with five of his colleagues. That is the cue; you know a flashback is coming. So Sunny, who usually flares up with fury at the slightest provocation, goes soft on this TV reporter and decides to tell her all.

Sunny is the usual oft-transferred collector who is posted to a town where Prakash’s writ runs large, unchallenged. Because like all such bad men of recent era, he controls enough MLAs and MPs to topple the local government! However, Sunny turns out to be a tough ‘un-government-servant’ kind of guy. While he is dispatching Prakash off with disdain, the latter dares to threaten to harm his sister, meriting a resounding slap from Sunny. That is reason enough for Prakash not to use his clout and get Sunny transferred of town but to let him be and use his guile to harm him and his family on a regular basis. Guile is something Sunny’s brawn is no match for.

Producer: Anuj Sharma, Sangeeta Ahir.

Director: Anil Sharma.

Cast: Sunny Deol, Amrita Rao, Urvashi Rautela, Prakash Raj, Shahbaz Khan, Johny Lever, Sanjay Mishra, Manoj Pahwa, Yashpal Sharma.

The problem is that the fear of the villain vanishes in the very first encounter between the two, when Sunny slaps him. Whatever a writer or director does to resurrect his villainous nature after that does not help: he can have hundreds of his goons kill women or harass them to teach Sunny a lesson but he does not seem threatening. A villain has to be built till the end, preferably larger than the hero so that as much as the hero, even the viewer wants him punished! But if a maker has not learnt that in over three decades in filmmaking, it is too late.

The film is a poorly conceived and executed and any claims (though it may read so in the titles) to story, screenplay and direction are not substantiated. Just filling up frames with crowds does not make an extravaganza. And what is with all the Punjabi dialogue and music? Who are they catering to—even Punjabi films have come of age and rate much better than Singh Saab The Great.(Not to mention they cost much less.) Music, even if Punjabi, is routine. Editing and photography both look uninspired. Action has been seen alike in many South remakes recently.

Sunny Deol plays himself, the character he has been playing since his debut; mostly looking angry and trading punches. Amrita Rao’s fascination for the widower Sunny is rather too cliché. Urvashi Rautela as a many years younger wife leaves no mark. Prakash Raj matches Sunny in his consistency at villainy since his Hindi debut; the least he could do is vary his expressions.

Singh Saab The Great, is an old fashioned mass film with appeal for single screen patrons with its best prospects being in the North.

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