Singh is Bling (Hindi)
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Lara Dutta, Kay Kay Menon, Yograj Singh, Kunal Kapoor
Akshay Kumar returns to his bread and butter, and the hunger is palpable in his performance. A no-holds-barred Punjabi comedy in Hindi, director Prabhudheva paints the stereotypical image of good-natured, father-fearing, mother-loving simpleton sardar caught in a situation in new, more vibrant colours. From dancing camel to a horse swaying on a charpoy, Prabhu invokes the animistic beliefs quite literally. There is a dog dressed as a lion, a lion on a leash, talking cows, the list gets increasingly absurd. In such company, the actors are bound to be inspired. Out to devour the scenery, each one is eager to redefine ‘over the top’ performance except for Amy Jackson. She is still in model mode but here the script and the cinematographer turns her imitations into a strong point for the film.
She is supposed to look gorgeous at all times, speak only in English and when it comes to action she has to express through kicks and punches. It helps in establishing central conceit of the film and Amy is up to the task.
Pushed by his father (Yograj Singh’s histrionics suit the atmosphere), the happy-go-lucky Raftaar Singh (Akshay) moves from the mustard fields of Punjab to the beaches of Goa to make a career. Here he is supposed to protect Sara, (Amy) who has come all the way from Romania to hide from the dangerous designs of a mafia don Mark (Kay Kay Menon tries hard to render some tonal gradations into a cardboard character) and search her lost mother.
Now Sara knows only English and our desi boy doesn’t have an option. To make things easier, Raftaar hires a translator called Emily (Lara Dutta). It leads to funny situations as the writers have a field day writing double meaning lines. So moron becomes mahaan (great). It might be the writer’s way to suggest that the film could mean either depending on whether you are a critic or an Akshay fan.
Akshay thrives in such banter and Lara plays along to make the silly sexist jokes work. She always had a strong comic timing and here Prabhu exploits it to the hilt. It is a kind of film where you don’t laugh but guffaw for its sound goes with the tone of the film. Like “Tung tung” doesn’t mean anything but it is modulated in myriad ways to capture the fun of the moment. Prabhu seems to love such interplay of phonetics. Remember Chinta ta ta? He captures the larger than life image of Punjab from a wide angle lens. There are shots taken from helicopters just to zoom into a conversation between a mother and a son.
The last time Akshay and Prabhu joined hands they delivered Rowdy Rathore , a film panned for its regressive tone. Here they try to redeem themselves by presenting Sara as an action queen who can even leave Raftaar behind when it comes to reducing the opposition to pulp.
It makes the film a little less offensive and a little more politically correct. But do all these details matter for those who happily pay to watch buffoonery?