2011 – A small-town police officer battles the forces of big-city corruption in the form of gangsters, evil politicians, and even his own corrupt superiors.
A good indication that a movie is going to surpass all your wildest dreams: when it begins with a wrongly-accused man committing suicide to preserve his honor, then segues into an opening title song about how badass the guy who’s going to avenge him is. This righteous avenger’s name is Singham.
He sings his own song… about himself.
The heart races / The body trembles / When you know he’s coming / Singham.
No hesitation / No deviation / JUST DESTRUCTION / SINGHAM.
He never spares the bad / Embraces the good / He is unequaled / He is very strong / Singham is a destroyer of evil.
In case you’re wondering, that image is of our hero, Inspector Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgn), flying through the air to perform his signature move: an open-hand slap. It’s as though his disdain for the forces of evil is so great that he can’t be bothered to close his fist.
Despite his stature as an unstoppable paragon of order and justice, Singham prefers to deal with trouble in his village without filing charges. We see him mediate several disputes like Solomon, preventing violence (unless he himself dispenses it) and generally promoting good will in the community. He strikes up a flirtation with the beautiful young Kavya (Kajal Aggarwal), although he has to defend her honor by laying an incredible beat-down on a gang of street toughs.
The good times can’t last forever, though. Soon Singham runs afoul of gangster, murderer, kidnapper, and aspiring politician Hillary Clinton… that is, Jaykant Shikre (Prakash Raj). Shikre has Singham summoned to the big city, where he intends to make an example of him. Soon the heroic inspector’s devotion to his principles is put to the ultimate test.
The action scenes are over-the-top incredible. A single blow from Singham will send a villain flying through the air, often smashing through a car windshield or telephone pole. Gravity and physics take a back seat to sheer, ludicrous entertainment. A Singham slap will drive someone backwards and upwards; he’ll grab a man out of a car that is flipping over his head. And as great a move as the open-hand slap is, our hero is never above removing his belt and whipping his downed adversaries just to hammer home how superior he is.
Obviously this man is not one to be trifled with. But the movie also reveals a softer side: the opening titles show the inspector helping a poor farmer get his cart unstuck and carrying a boy with a broken leg across a finish line. How can you not root for this guy?
There’s also a scene where he grabs a corrupt politician and holds him while his boys literally kick the guy’s ass for minutes on end.
This movie was unexpectedly long (there’s an intermission!), but it was so rousing and so full of quirky Bollywood moments that I barely noticed the time. The actual plot is also interrupted by not one but TWO sudden music videos in which Singham and Kavya declare their love for each other. When I say “music videos,” I’m not kidding – full-on costumes, sets, dancers, etc.
There were only two things that left me scratching my head as the credits rolled. First off: Inspector Kadam (the guy who kills himself at the beginning) and Inspector Singham are virtually identical.
Am I wrong? I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be intentional, but initially I thought that Singham was Kadam rising from the dead to seek vengeance. The other puzzling thing is the sheer abundance of mustaches. Almost every male character sports a solo mustache, which I do not believe is common in any other area of the world. Don’t believe me?
That’s just a sample. So be warned: if mustaches aren’t your thing, maybe try another movie. But really, you shouldn’t watch any movie other than this one. Ever. I’ve never seen a Bollywood movie before, but I truly wish that more American flims were like this. I went through the viewing either laughing in sheer delight or staring in thunderstruck silence. The only comparison I can make is to early Seagal films like Marked for Death, but even Seagal never dared to spin a man 360 degrees in the air… by his ear.
There was a sequel made in 2014 entitled Singham Returns. Needless to say, I’m ALL IN.