A Hindi remake of “Singam,” 2010′s Tamil hit about a lone policeman’s heroic crusade against widespread corruption, “Singham” drops the original’s interwoven plots for pumped-up action. Riddled with slo-mo moments as Singham (versatile star Ajay Devgan) fearlessly dispatches evildoers faster than the eye can register, the pic reps a throwback to ’80s-style actioners, supplementing wirework with judicious doses of CGI. Romantic and comic elements mesh unsatisfactorily with the kickass throughline, but the chemistry between Devgan and Prakash Raj’s colorful villain keeps the pic percolating, promising healthy B.O. when it opens worldwide July 22.Reteaming with Devgan after the highly successful “Golmaal” and its sequels, helmer Rohit Shetty crosscuts between the suicide of an honest urban cop, framed and disgraced by powerful crime lord Shikre (Raj), and pastoral scenes of Singham dispensing justice in his small hometown, where he is universally loved and respected. But after Singham humiliates Shikre in the line of duty, he finds himself transferred to the city, sitting in the dead cop’s chair and threatened with the same fate. In his new posting, Singham initially stands alone, as his fellow officers are too fearful, disillusioned or compromised to support him. His only ally is his predecessor’s widow (Sonali Kulkarni), who has never given up her quest to clear her husband’s name. Feisty love interest Kavya (Kajal Agarwal) offers moral support, but aside from coy exchanges and forgettable musical numbers, she stays on the outskirts of the action (in contrast with the Tamil version, which involves her character more directly). The potent pairing remains that of hero and villain, their mirrored opposition providing the pic’s kinetic energy. Shikre, in Raj’s wonderfully twisted interpretation (thesp is reprising his role from the Tamil original), possesses a degree of self-awareness that eludes Singham. Yet Shikre’s cynical manipulation is more than matched by Singham’s muscular certitude; the superhero routinely leaps into the air to dropkick several goons in succession and is able to pluck a baddie out of a car as it sails over his head. Tech credits are pro.
A Reliance Big Pictures release of a Reliance Entertainment production. Produced by Rohit Chaudhury. Directed by Rohit Shetty. Screenplay, Yunus Sejawal; dialogue, Sajid Farhad.
Camera (color, widescreen), Dudley; editor, Steven H. Bernard; music, Amar Mohile; lyrics, Swanand Kirkire; art director, Narendra Rahurikar; costume designers, Vikram Phadnis, Navin Shetty; sound, (Dolby Digital), Rakesh Ranjan; visual effects supervisor, Paul Naveen; choreographer, Ganesh Acharya; action director, Jai Singh Nijjar; line producer, Dhiraj Shah. Reviewed at Big Cinemas, New York, July 20, 2011. Running time: 143 MIN. (I: 65 MIN.; II: 78 MIN.)
Ajay Devgan, Kajal Agarwal, Prakash Raj, Sonali Kulkarni, Sachin Khedekar, Ashok Saraf. (Hindi dialogue)