Singh is Kinng, if you haven’t heard by now, is the story of Happy Singh the Helpful Sardar Klutz. He goes about the world being a klutzy Sikh, finds a gorgeous girl to drool over, a mom to love, and a bunch of idiot but deadly goons to reform and hands over the funniest bits of the movie to a deeply appreciative quasi-ensemble cast.
And watching it all unfold made me really sad. Not because I hated it but because I see an opportunity in it that I’m pretty damn sure nobody is going to explore.
As Akshay Kumar continues to rain hits at the Box Office (Tashan being the sole exception in recent times), plenty of ink gets spilled about how he’s catering to a “different audience” or how he’s figured out a “formula” to keep things simple and entertaining i.e. “Hot Chick + (Chartburning Music + Action) x Comedy = Monster Hit”. Of course, there’s been no dearth of people who have pointed out, with perfect truth, that mostly all this means is that his movies are pretty much crap, cinematically speaking, and they really shouldn’t work except they always do (eg: Welcome).
There are plot holes wide enough for trucks to drive through (try this on for size: in Singh is Kinng, Happy walks up to police officers at the Australian airport and introduces himself as the friend of a wanted criminal – so of course they decide to ferry him around because if there’s one thing Australia is known for, it’s being soft on crime), characters mix up witty one-liners with cringe-worthy quips and tired dialogue, and there’s a generally choppy feel to the way everything comes together.
Usually, criticism of that sort means the super fans will crawl out of the woodwork to bay for the critic’s blood, accusing him or her of an overdeveloped neocortex (oh, snap! See what I did there? I used a big word! I must be one of those nerdy party-poopers!), and at the end of a whole bunch of name calling, hostilities will end after Shah Rukh Khan’s movies have been properly trashed. I don’t know why that happens, but that’s the pattern for every super fan out there be it Rajnikanth’s or Amitabh Bachchan’s.
Both groups, in my opinion, are missing the point.
While Akshay’s forte is the action-comedy flick, what strikes me is the similarity in tone of his recent movies, by which I mean his post-Hera Pheri era, irrespective of the director or producer involved in the project. On the surface, each of these movies has a story – but that story is acted out like a loose outline filled in by a series of quick, (hopefully) hilarious sketches that clearly intend to take the story forward but work as little contained skits by themselves. Hera Pheri, the original and most satisfying of these movies by my reckoning, worked this style of storytelling in quite naturally; Tashan, the worst of them by a long shot, became so scattered and stylized that it collapsed before it had a chance to take off.
So here’s what I’m thinking – why can’t Akshay Kumar take this style of his to television?
A twelve episode season, an hour’s worth of loosely connected sketches, cut in between by snazzy videos, tackling everything from the middle class experience to crime to the immigrant experience. If he can find the time to play anchor for a Fear Factor rip off, he can surely find a way to do this. And unlike the Khans on TV with their lame game shows, he’d be doing something completely different, that absolutely nobody else is doing. Actually, he doesn’t even need to be in it if he doesn’t want to – those screamingly funny sequences with Sonu Sood in Singh is Kinng prove that when the occasion calls, he’s grown up enough as a performer to let the other guy take it. (I’m still giggling over that ‘dumb waiter’ bit.)
Of course, this is never going to happen. And if they do stumble across this idea, they’ll probably turn it into some reality mess and get Shekhar Suman to host it. Which is why watching Singh is Kinng made me sad.