The Singh is Kinng Reaction

12 Aug

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. :mrgreen:

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.


Posted by on August 12, 2008 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Video


11 responses to “The Singh is Kinng Reaction

  1. Amey

    August 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I get a similar question every time I watch the “Great Indian Comedy Show”. Remove the “skits” and you have the potential for an extremely good political commentary show (dare I say fake news show like Daily Show?) Shekhar Suman has the talent to get that show to be a success, but the sketches in between don’t really help his cause.

  2. Nida

    August 12, 2008 at 5:19 pm


    Great idea! I realize that being new to Indian cinema, I’m viewing things from a whole different perspective, and Akshay’s films are targeting a whole different demographic. So I get why he’s so successful–You were spot on with the “formula”–but I just would never pay money to see his films in the theater. Actually, I almost did with this one, but then I remembered “Welcome”…and feared it would be the same.

    Thank you for confirming that!

  3. pitu

    August 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Akki’s movies are crap. Utter crap. Welcome gave me a migraine and Namastey London was okay. Waqt was absolutely horrendous!!! I was very tempted to watch this one just coz he looks GORGEOUS in a pagdi but really, 40 minutes drive plus $15 plus migraine doesn’t seem smart. I can always drool away when the dvd comes out 🙂 and Mr Vipul Bewaqoof Shah still hasn’t given my my paisa back for Waqt.

  4. Ramsu

    August 13, 2008 at 4:49 am

    You know what, you should post your reviews on rediff. I haven’t seen any other comments section that is even remotely as entertaining, so if you’re looking for the superfan brigade to poop on your party lawn, that’s the place to go to. 🙂

    I love the Monty Python’s Akshay Circus idea, except like you said, they’ll probably get Shekhar Suman to do it. Maybe the trick is to use all the supporting actors to do the show, and just have him make a cameo appearance right at the end.

    The last time a movie used his comic talent at least to some extent was Bhool Bhulaiya. Since then, he’s let the others do the heavy lifting and contributed just his charm and screen presence to the project. What’s the harm in getting him to do that on the tv show as well?


  5. narendra shenoy

    August 13, 2008 at 5:36 am

    These movies are like the paneer mushroom babycorn capsicum makhanwalla with cheese, a dish popular in Shetty hotels in Mumbai. This gastronomic monstrosity exists on the menu in the hope that there is atleast one ingredient in it which will appeal to the customer. And the funny thing is, there usually is.

    What beats me is why the movie guys, who are such geniuses when it comes to camera work, choreography, dress designing and action sequences can’t string together a coherent story. Surely it can’t be all that difficult.

    I watched the movie (under duress. I wore crocs to a formal dinner party. “Singh is King” was by way of reparation) and could feel my brain cells popping one by one. I am down to my last dozen or so. One more Akshay Kumar mega-block-buster and I’ll be joining the ranks of the ga-ga- brigade.

  6. Amrita

    August 13, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Amey – I’ve never seen that show but from what I remember of Shekhar Suman’s various hosting efforts, not to mention that weird plant that he’s allowing to grow on his head, he’d do much better if he got that horrible grin off his face. Somebody tell him it’s ok not to laugh all the time. Sometimes, the jokes are just not that funny and guess what? Laughing at your own jokes makes other people less likely to laugh at them. Sigh. As for the man himself – I have no clue. There was a quick moment in the 90s when I wondered if there was more to him but then he got on the laugh track and I stopped caring. I’ll take your word for it re: that show. It’d be so interesting if they did that – some biting hindi commentary based on DD’s parliament coverage. Actually, they dont even need commentary, just run clips, the stuff is hilarious on its own.

    Nida – I grew up on Indian cinema and I didn’t pay to watch this in the theatre 😳 I too remembered Welcome and I just couldn’t do it! I think this movie is a rental solely for the Sonu Sood performance which is hilarious but other than that, it’s pretty much a miss for me.

    Pitu – tell me how you really feel 😀 I saw Tashan on Youtube because my BS meter on that movie was off the charts and now I want Yashraj to pay me three hours worth of internet.

    Ramsu – lol, those guys are freakin’ ridiculous. I often imagine they must some species of really frustrated cubicle drones waiting for a chance to trash someone, anyone, bhagwan ke liye trash karne do! And I was thinking the same thing re: his presence on the show. he doesn’t need to be there all the time, in fact I’d rather he didn’t and let the other do the heavy lifting. There are some really fine character actors out there who’re too good for the Ekta Mata nonsense and don’t get their dues in the movies and would benefit from a little worthwhile TV work.

    NS – you wore CROCS to a formal and she let you off the hook with an Akki movie? The woman’s a saint! But yes, I don’t understand why it’s suddenly so difficult for Bollywood to stitch some kind of coherent narrative. I mean, for god’s sake, they were writing movies on the sets, day by day, as they went along and still came up with some great masala movies, and now they can’t do anything? wtf?

  7. Ramsu

    August 13, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    You should go read the comments on the extract from eM’s book You are here. The extracts read like her blog does, so the comments make for wonderful entertainment 🙂

    Speaking of TV, I wonder if the movie benefitted from the trust vote that the UPA won. Every TV channel had appropriated the phrase Singh is King, which I’m sure thrilled the producers no end.

    Maybe if (when?) Mayavati becomes PM someday, it would be a good idea to have a movie titled Sabb Maaya Hai on the floors when some controversial bill is being tabled.


  8. Aspi

    August 13, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Akshay’s career generates a lot of curiosity in me because he’s essentially a 70s star – he’s completely and willingly stereotyped. Its not necessarily a bad thing, but if milked too much it puts you three flops away from having to slash your price in half.

    Eddie Murphy in his second “family friendly” incarnation is a great example of how slippery this slope is.

    Be that as it may – he does have a star presence and it can power an entire movie.

  9. Amey

    August 14, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Canned laughter will make any show look ridiculous. But then, all the studio audience is booked by reality show studios I guess.

  10. Amrita

    August 14, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Ramsu – isn’t there already a Maya memsaab?

    Aspi – I feel the same way about Katrina, and sometimes I wonder if she picked it up from him, the two of them have absolutely no nakhras about serious cinema or what they’re doing in Bollywood or doing something hatke. If only they could make something a little more coherent, I wouldn’t mind it in the least. I think Namastey London was their closest brush with success.
    Interesting point there about Eddie Murphy because where Akshay;s had to climb back up the ladder the same as Murphy, the difference I think lies in the fact that Murphy just kind of gave up and decided to phone it in whereas Akki is still plugging away.

    Amey – I guess that’s what two samosas, one chai and two hundred rupees per person gets you.

  11. pitu

    August 15, 2008 at 1:41 am

    Aspi: Dat’s wot happened to Chi Chi.

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