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Aug 09, 2008 at 01:47pm IST

Masand's Verdict: Singh is Kinng

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Om Puri, Neha Dhupia, Ranvir Shorey

Director: Anees Bazmee

Most films can be divided into two broad categories - those that aim to entertain an audience, and those that have been produced with the sole purpose of making money. As far as I’m concerned, Singh Is Kinng is not so much a film as it is a clever money-making racket.

I know that people who make films shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about wanting to earn money from them - I agree with that completely. My problem is with people whose only objective for making films is to make money - they could be in the construction business, they could be manufacturing cigarettes, but they just happen to be making movies for a living. My problem is with those guys.

Singh Is Kinng is a film that has little or no regard for its audience. It’s the kind of movie whose makers couldn’t care less if you hated the film, fell asleep during the film, left the film in twenty minutes, or collapsed from a stroke midway through the film. They only care about the fact that you paid your two hundred bucks and bought your ticket. To hell with you after that.

I understand all filmmakers don’t want to change the world - they don’t want to make message movies like Swades or Lage Raho Munnabhai. They probably don’t want to address issues either. I get that. But how can a filmmaker not care about engaging his viewer - how can he not care if his audience is entertained or not? If you’re making what you describe as a comedy, shouldn’t you want the audience to laugh?

The makers of Singh Is Kinng simply don’t care.

What better example of their indifference than the fact that they make a movie that they claim celebrates the spirit of being a Sikh, and yet they completely disregard the most basic detail of Sikh identity - how can your Sikh characters sport turbans but not full beards?

We’ve all seen enough films by director Anees Bazmee to know that we shouldn’t expect very much in terms of plot, and Singh Is Kinng is no different. Akshay Kumar plays Happy Singh, a bumbling do-gooder in a nameless village in Punjab, who manages to offend his friends and neighbours with his knack for causing trouble.

No wonder they pack him off to Australia with the responsibility of bringing back another Singh - underworld kingpin Lucky Singh (Sonu Sood, that is) who has tainted the reputation of their village and their community by his infamous deeds. Once there, by a strange hand of fate - the kind you can only expect in Anees Bazmee films - Lucky Singh slips into a coma-like state and Happy Singh is put in charge of his gang.

Not only does the new King set about reforming this motley group of criminals, he also falls head over heels in love with pretty-but-vacuous Sonia (played by Katrina Kaif) who sadly is already committed.

Singh Is Kinng is the kind of film whose screenplay is constructed almost entirely on the basis of silly coincidences and misunderstandings - airline boarding cards get exchanged by mistake and as a result passengers end up travelling to wrong destinations; dumbfounded Lucky Singh points accusingly at Happy Singh but his gang misinterprets that as Lucky picking his successor.

If this kind of pedestrian humour isn’t your thing, then perhaps the toilet jokes are. Like that moment in which Happy Singh inadvertently pees on the face of another villager, or the one in which it’s insinuated that his privates get entangled in a table fan.

The problem with this writing is that there isn’t any - the screenplay goes from one stupid gag to another, one set-piece to another. Singh Is Kinng goes through the motions of a comedy, but there is deadness at its center - a feeling that no one connected with it loved what they were doing.

I’m one of those who hated Welcome, director Anees Bazmee’s last film - supposedly a comedy. I thought the plot was preposterous, the humour completely banal, and most of the performances below standard. It’s a film I violently disliked.

In all fairness, I can’t say I feel the same way about Singh Is Kinng - it’s certainly not as bad a film as Welcome although that’s not saying very much.

Singh Is Kinng is the kind of film that simply doesn’t arouse any passionate response - I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it either. I just didn’t care. And there I think lies the failure of this film - few of the characters are even remotely interesting, the story can’t exactly be described as original, and the actors aren’t in their finest form either.

Akshay Kumar has an endearing goofiness to him and he’s the only reason you’re willing to give this film a chance. How you wish he'd use his popularity and his clout to do better films.

Of the supporting cast, Om Puri and Kirron Kher give the film its handful of genuinely comic moments, while the rest try earnestly to raise your spirits with the kind of lines you’ve heard so many times before.

Katrina Kaif is an eyesore in every sense of the word - her costumes resemble something you might pick up in a fancy dress store, her acting so weak you want to urge her to watch everyone from Madhubala to Madhuri so she might pick up a few tricks. But my heart sank when I saw Ranvir Shorey wasted in a thankless supporting role. I can only hope a fat paycheck was his reason for choosing this film.

In the end, Singh Is Kinng is a dead zone of comedy. It might have been a time-pass film if the makers had made even the slightest of effort, but in its current form the only thing you can appreciate about it is the fact that it’s not terribly long. When the lights come back on in the end, you leave the hall completely emotionless. You just don’t care.

I’m going with two out of five for director Anees Bazmee’s Singh Is Kinng. I do hope the makers can afford swanky new BMWs from the money this film will invariably make. Someone should get something from this film, because the audience gets nothing.

Rating: 2 / 5 (Average)

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