Reluctant Nallur Cop Duraisingam (Suriya) clashes with Chennai based extortionist-cum-kidnapper, Mayilvaganam (Prakash Raj), while wooing Kavya (Anushka).
It’s apparent why Suriya chose to go with Hari for his 25th film Singam. With their earlier successful collaborations, Aaru (2005) and Vel (2007), Hari ensured that Suriya’s market widened from the classes to the masses as well. And there’s no doubt the aim was to get maximum audience viewership for this landmark film of Suriya’s career. Clearly a box-office smash was the main criteria over everything else and so consequently Singam strictly adheres to Hari’s strength – in other words, a hardcore, action based commercial film.
While Hari’s subject matter is normally formulaic and old hat, to be fair to him, he has always shown a knack of utilizing real locations nicely and ensuring that his films maintain a heady and energetic pace so that their narrative flow never drags. Singam too is very, very average, highly verbose at times, and even hackneyed plot wise but redeemed in places by its screenplay and treatment of scenes. Hari captures the flavour of small town Tamil Nadu as well as Chennai city reasonably well and the film moves along briskly from Nallur to Chennai and finally to Andhra Pradesh. Scenes like when Duraisingam first walks into the Chennai police station and is taken aback at the difference from his small town cop station or not giving undue melodramatic importance to his late colleague’s empty chair are well handled. Suriya’s characterization of the man who did not want to join the police force but did so for his father and who wanted to run the family provision store instead is interesting, giving him a human dimension. And the script does give him his odd vulnerable moments as when threatened by Prakash Raj, who reveals he got him transferred to Chennai, he wants to go back but the heroine has to convince him to stay back and fight. But once provoked, he becomes the typical super cop beating up the baddies – he is a Tamil film hero after all!
A big, big factor in Aaru and Vel still being somewhat watchable were Suriya’s huge-rising-above-the-script acts especially in the latter; performances, which even in these hardcore potboilers, satisfied both the classes and masses. Suriya once again bridges the gap for both sets of his audiences even if one does feel he is a mite too bombastic in the long speeches (punch dialogues) he has been given and there are quite a few of them getting to you. At times, you cannot help feeling this is a little ironical as Suriya is one of those highly expressive actors who doesn’t need verbosity to get his points across. In his more human and natural moments, he is in fine form as usual.
Of the rest of the cast, Anushka justifies her re-entry into Tamil cinema unlike Vettaikkaaran (2009), where she had precious little to do. Here she has a proper role, well-integrated into the main plot and except for the idiotic scene of her trying to scare the people of Nallur, her romantic track with Suriya is well developed and among the better tracks of the film, having its smile inducing moments. She handles her role adequately but looks really chubby in short skirts. The less said about her dancing though, the better. Prakash Raj can now play this role in his sleep and he brings nothing new to the table. As it is, the role is also sketchy and should have been fleshed out better to make him a more powerful nemesis to the hero as this would have helped the cat and mouse game between Suriya and him to be that much more impactful in the second half. The supporting cast especially Suriya’s family members Radha Ravi and Sumithra, make the most of the few moments they have. There is a warmth to them that is nice to see. Vivek provides the odd comedy moment but you do feel there is too much of him in the film at the cost of the narrative. Vijayakumar’s role of the goody-good politician is difficult to take.
Coming to the technicalities, here’s where the film lets you down big time – in its making. The look feel and shot taking is more like the bad action films of the 1980s. The editing is obvious and the sound design and background score totally unimaginative. Bits of the second half do drag while the action sequences too needed to be far more innovative and integrated better with the feel of the film. Seeing characters fly all over as they are beaten up is passe and you get sick of this in the film. Still, the final climax locale is well utilized though the final fight could have been better. Thankfully, the film has not gone overboard on juxtaposing the tacky lion bit in Suriya’s action sequences.
You also do feel somewhat let down by Devi Sri Prasad’s music. The songs are very average and one can call them time pass at best if kind to them. It has to be said unlike the Suriya – Harris Jayaraj combo, the Singam songs to not have that strong melodic factor to them and are more beat oriented. Still, Kaadhal Vandhale is catchy enough in its own way; its male part rendered energetically by Baba Sehgal, while compositionally En Idhayam is the only one to focus on some melody and is a decent enough song. The English words in the title song are unintentionally funny – Everybody listen. He’s on a mission. You can never stop him he’s a human tornado! Good grief! Overall, the songs, while managing to go with the film as you watch it, are not really something you would hum enthusiastically once out of the theatre. The song picturisations are also nothing to write home about and mostly serve little more purpose than to bring the narrative track to a grinding halt.
If last week Kites was unable to soar, this week Singam admittedly makes some noise but fails to roar as effectively as it should have, handicapped finally by a formulaic tale and weak technicalities.
Tamil, Action, Drama, Color