‘Singh Is Bliing’… while the weekend lasts

Every hero and his shadow seem to be doing action. Sadly, action sequences have become so similar that no matter who the hero is, they all look mechanical. Akshay Kumar was an action hero, who did some romance and later took to comedy. Not known for histrionics, his fortunes have always depended on the writer and director.

Not counting just on one genre, his latest flick Singh Is Bliing combines action and comedy, to the extent of placing romance at third position on its priority list.

While Akshay is generally clumsy and ends up making blunders on a regular basis, he excels in all demonstrations of physical prowess. That, of course, has not prepared him to fight the goons who don’t go by the rule. As such, he gets bashed up most of the time and that adds to the comic quotient of the film. More so because the girl he is supposed to protect, Amy Jackson, excels in martial combat often saving Akshay from the goons rather than the other way round. 

Akshay is a good for nothing Sikh lad living in a joint family in a small town in Punjab headed by his father, Yograj Singh (ex-cricketer, father of cricketer Yuvraj Singh and later actor in Punjabi films). Fed up of Akshay’s waywardness, Yograj gives him two options: either to marry his friend’s fat daughter or to shift to Goa and work with his friend, Pradeep Rawat. Akshay opts for the latter. 

Meanwhile, Amy Jackson is in Romania. Her father, Kunal Kapoor, is some sort of international don who distributes sections of the world to various others so that they don’t fight for or trespass onto others’ territory. One of his subordinates is the father of Kay Kay Menon, a lunatic criminal, who wants Amy at any cost. He even kills his father so that he inherits his position. Menon’s first encounter with Amy is humiliating as, when he tries to get fresh with her, she thrashes him and pins him down to ground. Now, he wants her more than ever before. 

Kunal asks Amy to leave and stay somewhere where Menon can’t find her. Amy chooses Goa. She has an agenda; she wants to trace her mother who left her and Kunal when the latter took to illegal businesses. Kunal asks his friend, Rawat, to tend to his daughter who, in turn, deputes Akshay to do the needful. Akshay and Amy have a major communication gap since she knows only English while Akshay can communicate only in Punjabi or Hindi, a fact that Akshay has hidden from Rawat. 

In comes Lara Dutta. She is the translator who knows both, Hindi as well as English. Lara soon realizes that she is caught between an uncouth Akshay and a headstrong Amy. Her survival trick is to manipulate the translation as Akshay and Amy converse so that neither of the two is offended. This adds to the fun.

Like a typical gangster film, this one too has layers of villains, one bigger than the other. When Akshay is rendered unconscious by a bunch of goons, Amy eliminates a layer or two for which Akshay gets the credit from Rawat, who himself is a gangster in Goa.

Meanwhile, of course, love has happened. Akshay has fallen for Amy out of a lot of miscommunication thinking that she is enamoured by him. Amy, too, has eventually fallen in love with Akshay for his simplicity and because he always stands by her to protect her - so what if eventually she ended up protecting him on a few occasions! 

The film is fun so far but then comes the summing up and the need to give the hero, Akshay, his moments of glory. So, Amy’s mother has to be reunited with her, Menon’s demand to marry Amy is to be dealt with and, finally, love has to triumph. 

The climax is with Menon and his European goons who attack Akshay in a horde over a narrow bridge. This is that moment of sunshine reserved for Akshay. Akshay is felled. But, he chants a quote by the 10th Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, and is rejuvenated to fight the villains till end. This once, Amy does not resort to her martial abilities for she is now in love, turned into coy woman; her man, Akshay, can handle it for her sake!

Singh Is Bliing is a mid-level action comedy that entertains for most of its length. The film has some funny moments and some hilarious ones as well as some forced gags. The direction is fair. So is the photography. The songs have a heavy Punjabi flavour. The editor could have snipped another eight to 10 minutes. Locations are pleasant to the eyes. Action scenes, especially of Amy, are very well executed and deserve credit.

The film’s scoring point is its casting. Besides Akshay, it has avoided using the stereotypical. Casting of Kunal as Amy’s father, Rawat is Akshay’s boss, Yograj, Lara and Menon are a work well. While, in totality, Lara emerges the best of the main players. Amy is good despite limited dialogue. Akshay sticks to playing what he played in his earlier films. Menon, Rawat, Yograj, Rati Agnihotri and Kunal Kapoor are good in support.

Singh Is Bliing is a fair entertainer, which has managed an excellent opening thanks to a national holiday (Gandhi Jayanti), which combined with the weekend collections should help the film to a great extent.

Producers: Akshay Kumar, Ashvini Yardi, Jayantilal Gada

Director: Prabhudeva

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Lara Dutta, Kay Kay Menon, Rati Agnihotri, Pradeep Rawat, Murli Sharma, Kunal Kapoor, Yograj Singh

‘Talvar:’ Merits a watch

Based on the Arushi Talwar murder case of 2008, which happened in the Delhi NCR area, Talvar is a fictional account of the case where, in real life, Arushi’s parents were held guilty of killing their daughter. A film has been made on this case earlier while even some TV crime-oriented shows have dealt with the subject, not to forget the hours and hours of TV news footage that the case got.

The film looks at the case from three angles. The first one being that of the local police’s casual approach, which jumped to conclusions on hearsay and called it an open and shut case without even bothering to collect appropriate proof or calling the forensic experts to the crime scene. 

The second stage is when the ministry wants to be very certain about this case since parents are involved and orders a CDI probe (read CBI). Irrfan Khan is in charge of the case though he does not consider such murder cases up to his class. 

Irrfan follows the case meticulously going back into details and trying to recreate the crime scene. He has an able assistant in Sohum Shah, who usually starts the questioning and slapping of a suspect before Irrfan takes over; till then Irrfan loves to play games on his cell phone!

Besides recreating the scene of crime and talking to all concerned, Irrfan even opts for the lie detector tests of the servants as well as the parents of the girl murdered, Neeraj Kabi and Konkona Sen Sharma. While a servant owns up to the crime, the parents come out clean even in the narco-analysis that follow. 

Irrfan reaches a conclusion that the parents did not commit the crime but the servants did when an attempt to rape the girl backfired. But the day his investigation is completed and handed over to his boss, Prakash Balwadi, is also the last day of his boss in the office. His send-off party is the celebration of the conclusion of this case. 

However, the next boss to come in is not convinced. He has his own theory. He sidelines Irrfan and appoints a new investigator who will deliver to his wishes. This is supposed to indicate that the case detection was manipulated and the authorities were hell bent on zeroing in on the murdered girl’s parents. 

Irrfan, who lives a troubled married life, goes back to his wife Tabu; she is his only solace. 

The case reports finally go to the ministry where both Irrfan’s and the new chief’s conclusions are debated. The conclusion is that the case should be closed since there is nothing except circumstantial evidence against the parents. The court, however, refuses to accept the closure report and rules that the case be carried on!

The film starts on a dull note. It picks up momentum only once Irrfan enters the scene actively to handle the case. The confrontation between the two sides of the investigation agency is interesting. Actually, this could have been a 100 minute film, very crisp. But, then, the director is trying to tackle three versions of the same case. 

Meghna Gulzar has matured as a director in this, her third attempt. Glitches are few. Scripting is good, especially the idea of the three versions. The music has mainly on-screen utility. The saviour of the film is the casting of Irrfan without whom it would have been lifeless. 

Talvar has a one watch appeal for elite multiplex cinegoers. Its commercial prospects are fair.

Producers: Vineet Jain, Vishal Bhardwaj

Director: Meghna Gulzar

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah

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