Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Salt N’ Pepper Movie Review: Makes for a very good meal indeed!!!

What do you look for when you sit down to eat a meal at leisure? Is it the quality of the food, the taste, the ambience (if it’s not at home), the service that you get or is it everything put together? Similarly what does one look for in a movie these days? Is it the plot, the writing, the performance of the actors, the presence of known names, the music, the camerawork and other technical details or is it everything put together?  Now what would be your reaction if you got to enjoy a wholesome meal with all the right ingredients and under the right ambience and got the best of the service? Similarly what would be your reaction if you got to watch a movie that has everything that you are looking forward to? Confused? Well please don’t be because there are the kind of questions that are going on in my mind ever since I watched director Aashiq Abu’s ‘Salt N’Pepper’, a Malayalam movie making waves both inside & outside Kerala and warming the hearts of its audience.

On the surface of it the movie is not revolutionary in terms of the story, nor does it boast of any super star and neither is the director’s track record envious (his 1st and previous film with Mammootty, Daddy Cool didn’t do well commercially). But scratch the surface and you see that there are so many elements that go in favour of the movie. Let’s look into each of these elements a bit more in detail. But before that let’s cast a look at what the movie is all about. Essentially the film is all about how romance plays a role in the life of various people in their life. Kathali Parambil Kalidasan (Lal) is a middle-aged bachelor who works for the State Archeological Department and is a complete foodie. True to his profession he even loves collecting and using antiques at home, to the extent that even his car is a vintage Fiat. Kalidasan has really no regrets about his life and is happy with his ‘Old Monk’ sessions in the evenings accompanied by some wonderful food, often suggested by Kalidasan himself and prepared to his liking by his cook, Babu (Baburaj) who is more or less his man Friday of sorts.

In this idyllic sort of set-up in comes Manu Raghavan (Asif Ali), the nephew of Kalidasan who has come from Bengaluru to Thiruvananthapuram in search of a job and hence stays at his uncle’s place. Manu is a compulsive flirt and takes life easy. In a lot of ways he is very different in nature when compared to Kalidasan. But soon Manu fits into the routine at Kalidasan’s place and life is peaceful for the trio of Kalidasan, Manu, Babu (and Moopan the silent tribal who is also present with them). Maya (Shweta Menon) is in her mid 30’s and is unmarried. She is a dubbing artist and a foodie herself. Maya stays as a paying guest along with Meenakshi (Mythili) at Mary’s (Kalpana) house, who also runs a beauty parlour in the same premises. In fact Maya, Meenakshi and Mary also together have a wonderful bonding of their own.

One fine day however Kalidasan and Maya’s lives intersect thanks to a wrong phone call. It’s a typical working day and Maya yearns to eat ‘Thattil Kutty Dosa’ and calls up the restaurant to order for the same, only to end up reaching Kalidsan by mistake. Though initially both Kalidasan and Maya have a lot of scorn for each other, they keep talking to each other (egged on by Manu and Meenakshi respectively) and they break the ice when they realize that they do share certain common interests, chiefly food. The friendship over the phone slowly starts assuming the shape of a relationship when Kalidasan lets Maya know the story behind a multi-layered cake called Joan’s Rainbow. As they both meticulously prepare the cake at their respective places, we see their hearts melting just as the cake melts in their mouth.

So there then comes a point when both Maya and Kalidasan decide it’s time to meet and explore if there’s anything further to their relationship. But both become self-conscious of their physical appearances and wonder how the other person will react. Hence both of them end up sending younger substitutes- Meenkashi and Manu to go and do the needful on their behalf. This is where chaos sets in, not just in the lives of Maya and Kalidasan, but also in the lives of Meenakshi and Manu.

How do the principal characters go through the chaotic phase and do they emerge triumphant in their pursuit of love is what the rest of the tale is all about. The movie which comes with the tag line- “Oru Dosa Undakkiya Katha” (The story created by a Dosa) has our taste buds working overtime in the 1st half of the film. Right at the beginning when the rather innovative opening track (during the opening credits) “Chembavu” sung in rustic fashion by Pushpavathy comes on; one witnesses visuals of some of the most popular eating joints in Kerala. There’s more to come as there are constant visuals of either Maya or Babu cooking something or Kalidasan doling out instructions about some recipe to Babu.

Talking about interesting moments in the film, there’s one too many. Some of the standout moments include the portion where Kalidasan and Babu meet for the first time; the situation is extremely funny and innovative and surprisingly has even gay overtones (which kind of remains for a major part of the film but in a very understated and mild-humorous fashion). Also to be noted is the part during New Year’s Eve when it’s not just the men who are celebrating in their way but we also get to see Maya, Meenakshi and Mary welcoming the New Year by celebrating in style on their rooftop- something very natural and hardly seen in Indian films. Also praiseworthy is the scene when Kalidasan, Babu and Manu are enjoying the ‘Thattil Kutty Dosa’ and Babu enthusiastically exclaims 'Ithivide ondayittu nammal ariyaandu poyallo!’ (in spite of being here we never knew about it)- not only is the reaction spontaneous but also its heartening to see a cook actually relishing the work of another cook. And watch out for the portion when director Aasahiq Abu makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to heroines from outside Kerala being given priority over native Keralites in Malayalam Cinema ( this is done through a brilliant reference to the director’s own previous film- Daddy Cool J ).

Well such are the moments in the film that one can keep writing about it, but I’d rather not spoil the fun for those who are yet to watch the film. The film also boasts of a wonderful music score composed by Bijibal. Apart from the wonderful ‘Chembavu’ (lyrics by Bijibal and Rafeeque Ahamed) in the beginning the other songs include ‘Premikkumbol ‘(sung by P.Jayachandran and Neha Nair, lyrics by Bijibal and Rafeeque Ahamed), a wonderful romantic track that symbolizes the start of something interesting between Kalidasan and Maya. ‘Kaanamullal ‘is another classy romantic track picturised on Meenakshi and Manu and picturised in some wonderful locations captured through the wonderful lens of Shyju Khalid’s camera. And how can one forget the vibrant ‘Aanakallan’, the special music video track by Avial that comes in right at the end of the movie and acts as a wonderful finish to the film.

The film would not have been all that memorable if not for the dialogues by Syam Puskaran and Dileesh Nair, which have the desired level of humour and punch. A special word of mention to Suresh Kollam’s art direction (the antiques used in Kalidasan’s bungalow & the warm hues and colours on display at Maya’s abode are a treat to the eye) and costumes by Sameera Saneesh which are a wonderful blend of style and authenticity. In terms of performances Lal is simply wonderful as Kalidasan the archeologist with a passion for antiques and food. So likeable is he in the film that it makes one feel that probably no one else could do so much justice to the role as he does. Shweta Menon as Maya has equal footing as Lal and doesn’t disappoint at all. She’s one actress who has really climbed up the ladder in Malayalam Cinema and has carved a place for herself. This year with films as diverse as City of God, Rathinirvedam, Salt N’Pepper etc, she’s surely on the right track. Also a word of appreciation for Bhagyalakshmi’s whose voice suits Shweta so well in the film.

Asif Ali is certainly a good prospect among the current set of young actors in Malayalam Cinema and here again he makes good opportunity of the platform provided. Mythili has a good role but looks a bit out of place in most of her scenes. Vijayaraghavan as the senior colleague of Lal with his own romantic story is wonderful and so is the newcomer Ahmed Sidhique as K.T.Mirash, the ‘adviser/scholar’ friend of Asif Ali in the film. But the real surprise in the film is Baburaj, the perennial villain of Malayalam Cinema who steals the thunder with his remarkable performance as Babu the cook. Kalpana has nothing much to do while Dileesh Pothen as the director with a crush on Shweta Menon is hilarious.

But for a film that tickles our gastronomical buds and hooks us completely in the 1st half, the 2nd half is a bit of a letdown.  There is no connect to food anymore (unfortunately) and the film slowly meanders its way a bit laboriously as it gets a bit melodramatic. Also the Moopan track (with all the so called thrill elements shown) seems to be totally a side-track that’s irrelevant to the story anyways. If these were taken care of the movie probably would have gone to become an instant classic, but in spite of this the film is more than worth a watch. It’s a film that has its heart in the right place and is fun to watch. As the film hurries a bit to the climax, you still walk away with a broad smile as the film ends on an interesting note with a wonderful exchange of dialogues between Shweta and Lal.

And for someone who is Mumbai based and always thought of Kerala as a place to go & unwind it was amazing to see that there is a lot of “life” beyond the regular in Kerala. Be it in the form of interesting work profiles of the lead characters (archeology, dubbing for films), life styles followed, a trendy CafĂ© Coffee Day and Mythili undertaking IELTS coaching –the movie does make me even re-think of Kerala as a place to live and work in.

Go for this feast- I’m sure you’ll find it memorable.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ragini MMS Movie Review: When all the planning goes haywire

Ok its summer time & with the sweltering outside and just IPL-4 going on endlessly on T.V its back to the theatres for a lot many people these days. Sample the multiple releases that have been happening for the last weeks (and which will continue in the coming weeks) and my statement will get vindicated. As usual some movies have turned out good, but may or may not be making money while again some movies have turned out to be average fare or even plain bad and may or may not be making money. But the fact remains that the public has a lot of choice on hand now, thanks to the multiple films on offer in your neighborhood multiplex/theatre.

So knowing this we have producer Ekta Kapoor doing what she’s really good at- coming up with a product which has the right amount of backing as well. The product is none other than this week’s release – Ragini MMS. As we all know through Balaji Telefilms Ltd & ALT Entertainment Ekta Kapoor has been trying to come up with fare that’s different from what she offers to us on television. And with movies as diverse as LSD, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, Shor In The City etc we’ve come to expect that the trend will continue. With LSD Dibakar Banerjee and Ekta Kapoor dispelled a lot of myths- they proved if something interesting is tried then even a very small budget film with no known names can really succeed at the box-office. In the process they also came up with a totally new way of story telling for the Indian audience.

So the plot (for those unaware at least J) goes something like this- Uday (Raj Kumar Yadav, seen in the supermarket segment of LSD) and his girlfriend Ragini (Kainaz Motivala) take off on a weekend to a desolate mansion a little outside Mumbai (Dahanu for those interested), which supposedly belongs to Uday’s friend. While both Uday and Ragini are both looking forward to a great weekend (no prizes for guessing what would keep them occupied) there’s also something that Ragini is unaware of. Uday has in liaison with his friend/benefactor rigged up the mansion with cameras all over the place in order to get a juicy video of course.

But if Paranormal Activity was subtle and left the audience to imagine a lot, the makers of Ragini MMS meanwhile decide that its better to spoon feed us and the result is there to see in the 2nd half. Leaving aside all the inspirations mentioned earlier the film clearly also steps into the RGV school of horror in the 2nd half in terms of the style used including the BGM. After a while you even stop wondering if it’s going to get scary and rather focus on laughing unexpectedly at a lot of places. Having said this I must admit that the casting of the lead pair has been spot on .Raj Kumar Yadav takes on a role which has shades similar to that of what he portrayed in LSD, only that he manages to pull it off in style.

That pseudo cool nature displayed coupled with his roughness (seen both in his language and also demeanor) makes him come across as very natural. Heck you even feel at a point as to why would someone like Ragini go around with him J and that’s a triumph in itself. But after LSD and now Ragini MMS there’s a strong danger of Raj Kumar getting typecast and lets see if he’s able to overcome it. Kainaz on the other hand looks extremely vulnerable and very much the object of desire, both qualities that go in favour for her as far the role demands. Even in the 2nd half when the focus is more on her, she manages to keep us hooked, not bad for someone in her first film.

The debate will always continue on whether all the hype was warranted and if the film is actually a trendsetter of sorts. What I feel here is that the makers realized that they had a winning formula and coupled with the fact that they probably made this on an extremely shoe string budget, they had all the more reasons to spend on promoting the film. As for being a trendsetter, well with originality hardly being exhibited I wouldn’t say that the movie is a torchbearer or anything as such but seen as a summer Coke & Pop-Corn entertainer, it’s less likely to disappoint you.

To watch it or not is purely a matter of choice and depends on which way you look at it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stanley Ka Dabba Movie Review : For the child in you

Once when I was in School, in class 8 if I’m not wrong, our Geography teacher asked us as to what each one of us wanted to do become in life. There were the standard responses- Doctor, Engineer, Cricketer, Lawyer etc and some interesting one’s as well. I didn’t really know what to say. I mean come on- in the early days in School I used to fancy myself to be a cop, like some of my on screen heroes. Only to realize later on that it’s different to be an actual cop when compared to an on screen cop. I also wanted to be an actor, writer and so many other things from time to time. The only other thing that was seriously on my mind at that time when questioned in class, was to become a Doctor, but then I thought it sounded so ‘normal’ so I said I’d like to be one of the most popular (not notorious J) men in the Country/World. All the others in class started laughing, but the teacher admonished everyone and said “hey! At least he’s trying to do something really unique” and I beamed with a lot of satisfaction.

There are so many such incidents, which suddenly flooded my mind while watching Amole Gupte’s Stanley Ka Dabba, the movie that technically marks his debut as an independent filmmaker. The movie takes you into the life of Partho (Stanley), a lovable little school kid, who is adored by his friends and is very popular. Trouble comes in the form of Verma Sir (Amole Gupte), the Hindi teacher who has a habit of siphoning food from the tiffin boxes of students and teachers alike. Stanley for his part does not carry a ‘dabba’ to school but his friends are always there to share theirs with him. This is something that does not go well with Verma Sir and then the kids try their own ways of steering clear of him. What happens later is what the rest of the film is all about. The film has so many tender moments that it is difficult not to control your emotions while watching the film.

Divya Dutta as Rosy Miss, the English teacher is wonderful and she clearly makes you remember your favorite teacher in school. Divya Jagdale as the Science teacher, Mrs.Iyer is very effective as well. Amole Gupte as Verma Sir sinks into the character so well that you actually start despising him after a while and that shows how effective his portrayal has been. Even some of the other characters including those of Stanley’s friends are exactly the way the story demands. And Partho, take a bow my little champion- what an awesome portrayal indeed. Comparisons are bound to be there with Darsheel Safary (for Taare Zameen Par), but I’ll certainly say that Partho holds his ground very well over here. One of the other highlights of the movie is the opening credit animation sequence, which instantly puts you at ease and makes you look forward to the rest of the film.

The film has enough and more going for you and is a great way to go back in time and revisit your own days in school. And thankfully the film doesn’t have any stereotypical kids, which makes you relate to the movie a lot better. By now the guerilla style filmmaking techniques employed in this film (shot on Canon 7D only on Saturdays and other school holidays alone) have become legendary. Nowhere does it hamper the film in any ways and rather only emphasizes the fact that good movies can be made with a lot of conviction as the primary tool. The songs composed by Hitesh Sonik (with lyrics by Amole Gupte) are simple, heart warming and fall in line with the tempo the film. While there is an important message at the end of the film, nowhere is there an attempt made at sensationalizing the agenda.

In today’s competitive World when children are saddled with a lot of pressure at home and elsewhere, it is nice to see movies like these, which still manage to bring out the innocence in children to the open. Life is too short to be just wasted by ruminating over petty things and there are lot more positive things to look at. This is another aspect that the movie tries to bring out. What was even more amazing was watching the movie on a Sunday morning at 10.30 a.m and finding the show to be houseful (something that is unheard of even for the bigger movies in that time slot). That my friends, is the power of WOM (word of mouth) and it’s heartening indeed to see the patronage being extended wherever the movie is on display.

Now the film is out and well into the 2nd week it is all right to debate and see if the movie is worth all the attention its receiving or not, whether the movie is better than TZP or not and so on and so forth. But Amole Gupte certainly deserves all the appreciation for sticking to his conviction and making the movie in the way he wanted. I do not think I have in anyway become the popular person I set out to be, but yes I am happy that at least the movie reminded me that when I was in school I did think of doing something big in life. This movie is definitely for the child in all of us and yes remember the child in us will also get hungry while watching the movie (you’ll understand when you watch it) J

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Badmaash Company Movie Review: Beware of this “Barbaad Company"

There are some movies which are good and some which are bad and some which fall somewhere in between. But I’m going to be now analyzing a movie which falls under a completely new category- movies which are plain boring. I’ll come to that in due course of time. But as of now lets talk about YRF one of the most well known production & distribution houses in the country. A few years ago Yash Chopra & Aditya Chopra decided to follow the Hollywood style of “studio” functioning in the full sense by making multiple movies every year with a lot of directors signed up for multi film contracts. They realized that it was the best way to go in terms of scaling up since the father & son team couldn’t direct too many films by themselves.

So then we saw a slew of films across genres from romance ( Fanaa, Hum Tum, Saathiya, Bachna Ae Haseeno etc ), action ( Dhoom series ), sports ( Chak De India ), social ( Aaja Nachle, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag ), animation ( Roadside Romeo ), terrorism (New York ), slice of life ( Rocket Singh : Salesman of the Year ) etc. All these films have been directed by outside directors like Kunal Kohli, Siddharth Anand,Shimit Amin, Kabeer Khan, Sanjay Gadhvi etc. While some of the films worked, some didn’t and the films kept coming to us in regular intervals.

Whenever a YRF film flopped the detractors would say that the glory days of YRF are coming to an end and when a film became a hit the detractors would again say it was probably a fluke or something else. Of course loyalists continued to remain stead fast in their faith towards the films coming out from YRF. I for one have been following all their films for the past so many years and watch them all- sometimes feeling satisfied & sometimes not so satisfied. So all this was at the back of my mind when I went on to watch their recent film Badmaash Company, the directorial debut of actor Parmeet Sethi and having a young team of actors.

Shahid Kapur
who has been going through a lean patch after Kaminey (Dil Bole Hadippa, Chance Pe Dance & Paathshaala being flops) and Anushka Sharma (finally seen again after RNBDJ) play the leads here. The story is all about how Karan (Shahid) &Bulbul ( Anushka ) along with their friends –Chandu ( Vir Das ) and Zing ( Meiyang Chang) go through a roller coaster ride of doing wrong things the right way i.e their way.
Set in the 1990’s when consumerism in India was still at its infant stage and with import-export policies being a lot different then, these 4 friends decide to start an importing business and make use of loopholes in the system as they develop their own ways of beating the system.

A rare paisa vasool moment:)

This in a nutshell friends is what the film is all about and yes like most other Hindi films these days, the action shifts from India to overseas ( the U.S here ) in the 2nd half giving way for more of the same stuff. Frankly speaking the 1st half gets to a close within an hour’s span and it leaves you wondering what you had been seeing till then. Ridiculous mechanisms of con jobs are shown again & again with Shahid trying to make us understand the process flow completely.

So at the half way stage as the action shifts to the U.S you are hoping that there would be something more interesting happening and that one would finally witness some genuine moments. Alas! Nothing such happens and you get to see the same silly con jobs handled the same way and depicted in the same way- its like Parmeet felt-“let’s maintain the consistency friends” :) . The sequences especially in the 2nd half leave you completely cold and you are left wondering what’s happening. Check out the “Bleeding Madras” sequence especially the portion with Michael Jackson ( yes I’m serious ) and you’ll know where I’m coming from.

Talking about the acting and the characters – Shahid Kapur looks so disinterested that you are left wondering what happened to the Shahid of films like Jab We Met & Kaminey.The only thing for Anushka is that she gets to sport some yuppy outfits when compared to her previous film- otherwise she has relatively nothing else to do. Vir Das & Meiyang Chang are decent, but no great shakes. But it’s a matter of great pity that veteran artistes like Pawan Malhotra, Anupam Kher and Kiran Juneja also have nothing much to do. In the beginning when you see Anupam Kher and Kiran Juneja playing Shahid Kapur’s parents, you get a vision of Khosla Ka Ghosla in your mind, but all that thought goes crashing very soon.

Music by Pritam is very ordinary and you’d hardly remember any songs after you complete the film. This is very surprising since most YRF films are known to have a good soundtrack. If the 1st half of the movie left you feeling what happened in the 1 hr of duration, the 2nd half comes across as very slow, lengthy and irritating overall. So let me go back to the different category of films that I started mentioning initially- movies which are plain boring. Badmaash Company is a prime example of such movies. I’d not really like to slot it in any other way.

At the time of writing this I realize that the movie is doing decently at the box office and may end up being commercially good for YRF. That makes me all the more worried- will a “barbaad company” like this inspire more such “barbaad” films from YRF? I hope not so that I’ll again go and watch their next film like I usually do.

Originally published in PFC-

Bumm Bumm Bole Movie Review: Priyan’s mishmash remake of a classic

As Taare Zameen Par grew in popularity, Priyadarshan was one of the first to announce a movie with the child star- Darsheel Safary. And the subject was something that drew mixed reactions- a remake of Majid Majidi’s renowned Iranian film “Children of Heaven”. Though Priyan has always been known as a remake factory, there were some changes being noticed of late. First of all Priyan made a truly offbeat Tamil movie- “Kanchivaram” which has received wide acclaim. Later Priyan went on record to say that he wanted to make more such serious films and announced projects on subjects like land mafia, AIDS etc. All this put together made me feel that Bumm Bumm Bole ( BBB from hereon ) could be a cakewalk for Priyan- after all he just had to replicate the film in its entirety.

As the release of the film drew near & as more and more people started sniggering while talking about the film, I wondered what the fuss was all about. I thought why a veteran who’s made 75 + films should falter by making a simple children’s film. As the film starts with a clear cut credit to Majid Majidi & his film, you start feeling even better. I guess that’s where I probably went all wrong. I’m sure most of the people reading this post on PFC would have seen Children of Heaven, but still let me get on with the plot for the convenience of the others.

BBB is a story focusing on a lower middle class family living in hills of Assam (more on that later). Atul Kulkarni and Rituparna Sengupta play the parents of Darsheel & Ziyah. Both the parents lose their jobs at the same time and its hard days at home. One day Darsheel loses the sandals of his sister which he had taken to get it mended by the cobbler. Knowing that his father has no money to buy a new pair of sandals or shoes for his sister, Darsheel asks his sister to wear his shoes while going to school since they have different school timings.

Thus begins the tale of the siblings sharing a weather beaten pair of shoes and all the trouble and heart burn that the children face in between. Against this backdrop we also get to see the kind of struggle that their parents go through. The story nears conclusion when Darsheel takes part in an inter school marathon with the sole objective of winning the 3rd prize- a lovely pair of sneakers. But as fate will have it otherwise he ends up winning the race. But by the time the movie ends with some in your face in-film branding moment (more on that later) you will be thoroughly irritated with the film.

Priyan gets it completely wrong this time & you realize this from the very first scene in the movie- a bomb blast in broad daylight. Right then you know that there is going to be something terribly wrong in this remake. So you have the terrorism angle floating in the background of the movie which was totally unwarranted and the kind of geographical representation shown in the movie will make you shake your head with wonder. Presumably based in Assam, the film has been shot in Ooty, has outfits/costumes of Kashmir and yeah the people talk in regular Hindi all throughout. Wow! isn’t that too strange a concoction?

Well that’s not the end of the tale my friends. As the movie gets over and the audience disperses you hear most people whispering how the movie appears more as a promo for a prominent footwear brand. As someone who’s sold/marketed consumer goods for quite some and who has an interest in movie marketing I can tell you that the in film brand placement as seen in BBB is something that any filmmaker should vehemently oppose. For the sake of commerce if the entire brand placement appears forced and even gross at times, it doesn’t add value but actually harms the film.

In Billu Priyan went overboard with the projection of SRK the superstar with posters all over the town ( in the film )& the kind of songs used with him. Here he goes one step further by making a brand look larger than the film itself. Children of Heaven is a great emotional roller coaster ride with wonderful moments between the siblings and some reference to the father- son relationship depicted excellently. As the film draws to a close with the marathon race, your heart is racing along with the characters and at the end you are left too stunned to react.

Here you feel nothing- virtually nothing for anybody. To be honest Darsheel and Ziyah are efficient while Atul is decent as well (but tends to go a bit overboard with the dialogues) but you never get to connect with them. For those who’ve seen the original film, BBB is a laborious watch while it may just about be ok for probably for those who haven’t seen the original version. A humble request to Priyan and all those who plan to remake such classic films- please leave them alone especially if you are hell bent on screwing up with the original in question.

Originally published in PFC-

Singam Movie Review: This Lion Roars For Now

After the disaster called Seval, Director Hari is back with 2 aces (if we can call it that ) in his latest film-Singam. First of all he turns back to his favourite lead man-Surya with whom he has delivered two hits earlier (Aaru & Vel ). Also this time Hari returns to a format he’s handled before and which worked before- the story of an angry cop taking on a mob led by a tough villain. Yes my friends I’m referring to Saamy which starred Vikram andTrisha and which gave a major boost to the careers of both Hari and Vikram.
While Saamy was based in Tirunelveli, Singam is based in Nallur near Tuticorin. Surya plays the local S.I- Duraisingam who is true to his name, a firebrand of a cop. Prakash Raj plays Mayilvaganam, an extortion & land settlement handler who runs his activity in Chennai. A freak incident involving an old murder case brings Mayilvaganam to Nallur and thats where the first confrontation between the two takes place.
While all this is happening our cop also finds the time in his own characteristic way to lose his heart to the heroine,Anushka. She is the daughter of an industrialist (Nassar) who is in the village on vacation. After the altercation between Duraisingam and Mayilvaganam in Nallur, Durai gets promoted as Inspector and also transferred to Chennai. But it’s after he lands in Chennai that he gets to know that his transfer to Chennai was orchestrated by Mayilvaganam who now issues a challenge to Durai, saying the situation is now different as it’s his domain now.
Thus begins the game of brains & brawn (more of brawn of course) between Duraisingam and Mayilvaganam and so the movie chugs along. No prizes for getting what happens in the end though :) . The movie has all the elements associated with a “mass movie” – action in plenty, punch dialogues, songs shot abroad, comedy track and what not. The movie also happens to be the first major venture of Reliance Big Pictures in Tamil Cinema and I’m sure that this venture will give them a lot of confidence.
But having said all this I must add on a few more things I felt after watching Singam. For those who’ve watched Saamy the movie brings in a major feeling of deja-vu as a lot of elements are similar. In fact I’d rate Saamy as a better entertainer primarily because of two reasons- the comedy track by Vivek in Saamy is far better than his own track in Singam and also the music of Saamy was very popular, the tunes by Harris Jayaraj can still be heard. Compare this with Devi Sri Prasad’s work in Singam and the difference is very glaring. The music of Singam is very much of the ordinary kind, considering what DSP is capable of.

This poster illustrates what the movie actually is like:)

At times the dialogues and action scenes certainly go overboard especially with the constant reference to lion/singam motif being shown time and again when Surya is in the angry mode. Quite a few sequences also resemble those seen in other recent films and its quite funny how Singam goes up rising in his career. For someone who gets promoted from S.I to Inspector in 3 years, it’s a shocker to see him being promoted as ACP in about 3 months ( or so ) :)– must be the fastest case of promotion in Tamilnadu Police I guess :) . But then of course this being a mass movie, such questions do not really make sense.

In spite of all this and more if the film works, then a major share of the credit goes to Surya who carries off the loud cop role in his own characteristic way. Surya has already played a cop successfully earlier in Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Kakka Kakka, but that was a more subtle and a realistic portrayal of a cop. Here he makes a switch over to a larger than life cop and carries it off fairly well. In fact you even wonder if anyone else could have done a better job than Surya over here. Anushka’s character has reasonable scope to perform in the movie and that’s a surprise considering it’s a hard core action film.
Prakash Raj plays the bad guy pretty well in his own characteristic style. The supporting actors like Radha Ravi, Nassar, Manorama, Bose Venkat, Vijayakumar etc play their roles as expected. While watching the movie one can easily come to terms with the fact that Surya this time has safely trespassed into Vijay’s territory and emerged unscathed. But I hope that with his forthcoming projects like Rakta Charitra and Ezham Arivu (with Murugadoss) he will steer clear of this formula for some time at least.
Considering that the movie is turning out to be a good proposition for Sun Pictures and Reliance Big Pictures, it looks like Hari has done his job fairly well. His task was to deliver a summer blockbuster and that mission has been achieved. But as viewers what we can only hope is that we do not get Saamy Redux (aka part 3) again sometime soon. But then when success speaks, it’s tough to predict the flow of tide. Till then I guess this lion will roar for now and bring in the crowd :) .