A change of scene and rank do not have the power to make any difference to Bajirao Singham?s deportment. Is anybody surprised? Now a DCP, the Maratha Dirty Harry still struts around like a lord of a lawless jungle where bullets fly as fast and furious as one-liners.
In his second coming, the vigilante cop relocates from a small hamlet to the metropolis of Mumbai and plunges headlong into an all-out fight against a greedy godman and a hostile politician.
In the line of his fire are a host of ills ? among them are black money, blind faith, electoral skullduggery and government apathy to the lot of the police force.
In Singham Returns, the unstoppable protagonist is once again fighting for freedom from the tyranny of the system.
As Singham Returns unfolds with relentless vehemence, the question that pops into mind is: who will fight for our freedom from the weekly assault of bad cinema? Don?t expect the film?s director and action designer Rohit Shetty to be of any help in this regard.
Like he did the first time around, a beefy, bare-bodied Ajay Devgn emerges from a pond after his prayers as the shrill chant of ?Singham, Singham? blares away until your eardrums are ready to burst.
In Singham Returns, the sequence is tucked away somewhere in the second half, much after Bajirao Singham has provided ample and repeated proof that he has lost neither his roar nor his do-not-mess-with-me snarl.
But the inordinately deferred arrival of the signature scene is the least of the film?s problem. Somehow the pond itself does not look big enough in Singham Returns.
Even the expanse of the sprawling megalopolis in which the unstoppable Singham operates in this sequel does not appear to be quite as ominous as the small village on the Goa-Maharashtra border Goa where the proud man in uniform earned his spurs in 2011.
In Singham Returns, no-good netas and fake babas aren?t the only ones that director Rohit Shetty takes potshots at. An overenthusiastic media, Bollywood?s favourite whipping boy for quite a while now, is also subjected to ridicule.
Singham confronts a lady journo and gives her a mouthful for jumping to negative conclusions about a recently slain policeman. Do your job and leave the judgment to the courts, he thunders.
His sage advice is completely out of sync with his own tendency to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation.
Singham, being the kind of Bollywood-style cop that he is, thinks nothing of repeatedly taking the law in his own hands and resorting to bizarre methods to get his point across.
Although he utters Aata majhi satakli on no more than three occasions in the course of Singham Returns, he is a man perpetually on the edge.
His sprightly girlfriend, played by Kareena Kapoor, does all that she can to tame him, but the lion in Singham is well beyond control.
Singham Returns has many other major problems of both tonality and psychological accuracy.
It is difficult to figure out why the Mumbai police should target godman Satyaraj Chander Baba (Amole Gupte) with the aim of stopping him from using his unaccounted wealth to buy votes for his politician-aide, Prakash Rao (Zakir Hussain). Shouldn?t the job have been left to Election Commission officials?
A smarter police force would instead have gone after the bazookas and automatic rifles that the baddies have stockpiled for themselves, a fact that should have been obvious to all and sundry given the ease and frequency with which they mount attacks on the cops and anyone else who is a threat to their existence.
Among the latter category of characters is a wise old man referred to as Guruji (Anupam Kher), who, we learn, was a teacher to both Singham and the state?s chief minister, Vikram Adhikari (Mahesh Manjrekar).
This Guruji spearheads a movement to clean up Indian politics by giving poll tickets to idealistic young people willing to go the whole hog.
In the mayhem that is caused by the crossfire good and evil, Singham Returns blows up and smashes more cars than any other Bollywood action film has done in recent memory.
At the heart of the film is a series of confrontations between the evil godman and the uncompromising police officer. While both Gupte and Devgn give these sequences their best shots, delivering their punch lines with aplomb, the impact is only momentary.
The screenplay employs other devices to push Singham?s bellicosity to snapping point: the tears of a martyr?s widow and a diatribe delivered by a mother of a poverty-stricken young man bribed by the fraudulent guru?s men.
Singham Returns has a fair sprinkling of angry wisecracks that might draw spontaneous whistles and loud claps from those that love violent fights to the finish.
One can only hope that this is indeed the end, and another sequel isn?t lurking in the future.