Friday, October 2, 2015


Release date:
October 2, 2015

Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Lara Dutta, Kay Kay Menon, Pradeep Rawat, Anil Mange, Arfi Lamba, Rati Agnihotri, Kunal Kapoor

The wisest thing to do when you make a film this silly is to flaunt your silliness with pride and not pretend to be anything else. Singh Is Bliing does precisely that.

And so, though it has the IQ of a boiled potato and a plot thinner than the slim heroine, the film gets by on the combined strength of its unabashedness, Akshay Kumar’s charisma and complete surrender to the madness of the plot, a supporting cast featuring excellent comedians – in particular Ms Lara Dutta – and situations that are funny, even if often cliched.

At the centre of it all is Raftaar Singh, an ironic choice of name since he is intellectually slow. Raftaar (Akshay) is a well-meaning buffoon in Punjab’s Bassi Pathanan village. He is spoilt by his mother (Rati Agnihotri) and constantly chided by his father for his inability to ever complete a given task. Desperate to reform him, Dad packs him off to Goa to work with an old friend.

A continent away in Romania, the villain Mark (a nicely evil Kay Kay Menon) misbehaves with Sara (Amy Jackson), daughter of a fellow arms dealer (Kunal Kapoor, yes Shashi Kapoor’s son – brief role, neat performance). Sara snubs Mark. She goes into hiding to save herself from the vengeful fellow, taking off for Goa where she hopes to also locate her estranged mother.

All this has been engineered to get Akshay and Amy into the same frame so they can sing, dance and fall in love. Along the way they encounter more villains, maa ka pyaar and endless khana-peena. The story – credited to Grazing Goat Pictures and not to an individual – is flimsy, but the film works because the narrative strings together one wacky comical episode after another.

Akshay is great with physical comedy, acting here not just with his face and voice, but with his entire body. Even in the supremely boring song Cinema dekhe mamma, his dance moves and gestures are a hoot. His willingness to make a fool of himself works well for Singh Is Bliing.

The 48-year-old oozes charm, which is a good thing because it would otherwise be impossible to accept a 54-year-old Rati playing his mother (biology is clearly not Prabhudheva’s strength). It’s also worth asking if the tremendously fit Akshay does not realise that he unwittingly emphasises his advancing years by playing the sweetheart of an actress 24 years his junior. It is a pity that his confidence in his stardom does not translate into acting with women his age.

Nevertheless, Akshay is one of this film’s biggest strengths. The other is Lara, who has been poorly served by Bollywood since she first entered films. Her penchant for comedy was evident in Housefull and even in the unsuccessful Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Why doesn’t Hindi cinema have more to offer her? She is a riot in Singh Is Bliing, killing every scene in which she appears as Emily, an interpreter between Sara who can’t speak Hindi and Raftaar who doesn’t know English. Wish there was more of her in this film and in films in general.

Sara has very few dialogues, but the director makes up for that by letting her flying fists and agile limbs do the talking in scene after scene in which she bashes up bad guys. Good job, Amy! Quite unusually for Hindi cinema, far from seeking the hero’s protection, she protects him in one scene. The film also delivers a message – one that Akshay has been championing off screen too – that women must learn self-defence techniques. While it would be naïve to see this as an all-in-one solution, it is certainly one of many that could work together to end gender-related violence.

The positive messaging is a tiny step forward, since Akshay and Prabhu’s previous collaboration was the all-pervasively sexist, disturbingly misogynistic Rowdy Rathore. Not that Singh Is Bliing shrugs off sexism altogether. Disappointingly, the film features a stock joke about an overweight woman’s unsuitability for marriage and another about a woman with a blackened face.  

Singh Is Bliing’s songs are so-so, except for the hilarious Dil kare chu che in which the tune, lyrics, Akshay and wonderful Lara had me laughing so much that I got a stomach ache. Equally enjoyable is the later use of the song in the background score in a couple of juvenile scenes. Chu che is a fine example of intelligent stupidity – and no, that’s not a contradiction in terms.

All that being said, your ability to enjoy the film depends on your tolerance for Bollywood’s male-centricity and the industry’s Sikh cliche. Despite Amy’s fisticuffs and Lara’s talent, there is no question that Akshay is the centre of this universe. And though the jovial Sikh is a positive stereotype, it is exasperating that mainstream Hindi cinema refuses to portray members of the community as anything but jolly to the point of being OTT, breaking into Bhangra at the drop of a hat and/or deeply patriotic individuals waxing eloquent about nationalism and Sikh honour.

The world will perhaps end the day Bollywood delivers a grim, non-Bhangra-dancing, cowardly, unpatriotic, unfunny Sikh character. I wonder if the Sikh community will even want that. 

While we consider that question, there’s Singh Is Bliing. The name probably has some deep meaning in the minds of the film’s team, but to me all it is is an effort to remind us of Anees Bazmee’s Singh Is Kinng (2008) which remains one of Akshay’s biggest box-office successes till date. SIK was a more substantial, more memorable film. SIB’s lack of substance makes it forgettable, but while it lasts it is a pleasant, mostly harmless, rib-tickling, side-splitting affair.

Rating (out of five): **1/4

CBFC Rating (India):

Running time:
142 minutes

Photographs courtesy: 
(1) Poster & Chu che still:
(2) Picture of Akshay & Prabhudheva: Sterling Communications


  1. "though the jovial Sikh is a positive stereotype, it is exasperating that mainstream Hindi cinema refuses to portray members of the community as anything but jolly to the point of being OTT, breaking into Bhangra at the drop of a hat and/or deeply patriotic individuals waxing eloquent about nationalism and Sikh honour."

    Rocket Singh!

    1. Yes, Rocket Singh, and it's widely NOT considered mainstream but seen as an offbeat film by a mainstream production house. Isn't that sad? Besides, if you list 100 mainstream films with significant Sikh characters and find 98 that fit the stereotype, the remaining two would be the exception and not the norm. I'm sure you do get my point.