Review: Akshay Kumar dazzles, Singh is Bliing does not!

Singh is BliingAs conflicting as it sounds, a lousy movie can say a lot about an actor’s capabilities. Like for how long Akshay Kumar covers up the absence of plot in Singh is Bliing on the strength of his comic charisma.

It’s not enough, ultimately. But for what it’s worth, the star’s frisky zeal is laudable throughout the scatter-brained script whose quirky possibilities are never realised by its formulaic filmmaker.

Except rhyming with Anees Bazmee’s Singh is Kiing and Akshay playing a Sikh character, the two have nothing in common. It’s neither a follow-up, nor a franchise. So I don’t have to tell you I rather enjoyed Singh is Kiing or make comparisons.

Directed by Prabhudeva, Singh is Bliing is for most part a series of juvenile gags and at the centre of them is a flaky, literal-minded Sardar named Raftaar Singh (Akshay Kumar).

He’s the sort of jolly symbol of loafing, Bollywood loves to portray in a ridiculously loving light. An obligatory culture song of the lungi-clad man frolicking about a picturesque village of Punjab underscores this in colourful detail.

Singh doesn’t understand a word of English but his super chic wardrobe could coin terms like village couture in fashion nomenclature. If Prabhudeva had any imagination, Akshay would head to Mumbai to become the next Manish Arora.

Except as it happens to every second filmi overgrown bum, Singh’s father (Yograj Singh) angrily urges him to find a job or marry an overweight girl of his choice. His fleeting humiliation is swallowed in mom (Rati Agnihotri)-made parathas and jalebis. Only the sight of AK and Agnihotri winking at one another every time the other is fibbing is more disturbing than droll.

Singh is BliingFollowing a bungled-up stint as zoo security in South Africa masquerading as Punjab da gaon, Singh heads to Goa for employment along with his two nondescript flunky friends. Ever seen training wheels on a kiddie bicycle –that’s them.

Meanwhile, Singh is hired by a family acquaintance, a mafia guy running a holiday resort as some sort of cover up. The latter may or may not be true but I made up a whole lot of things in my head to sit through this stinker.

Just when you are accommodating to Singh is Bliing’s hare-brained tone, it exhibits the personality of multiple ad films at once –Amy Jackson’s slo-mo horse riding introduction looks straight out of a shampoo commercial, a dapper desi gangster operating from Romania could well be selling suit fabrics. Wait a minute, isn’t that Kunal “Shashi” Kapoor? It sure is. I can’t tell how you random and (unintentionally) rib tickling his presence is.

There’s also a theatrical Kay Kay Menon wearing a uniformly loony smirk and saying his lines as though he was auditioning for Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s part in a Sadak remake.

Speaking of oddballs, Lara Dutta does her best Rajendra Nath impression as the bumbling, blundering interpreter between Akshay and Amy (looks good, moves fast, can’t act). Her somnambulism aims to draw a few cheap laughs like only a Prabhudeva film can.

Determined to go nowhere, Singh is Bliing travels to and fro between Goa, Punjab and Romania squeezing in trivial sentimentality that occupies its entire soppy, sluggish second half.

No scarcity of effort from Akshay though. He’s alternately bubbly, adorable and airheaded. And so are his comic-book antics, especially the more spontaneous strips of funny — the ones where he hastily departs in the middle of a command like a certain nutty manservant in Tinkle comics.

Mostly though, it’s high on pedestrian humour where people shriek in pain after being knocked down by a car or coconut and absconding lions send humans in a tizzy.

Singh is Bliing
It’s the kind of laughable progressive where Akshay first elicits women empowerment (a forced afterthought in too many movies lately), gleefully watches his feisty heroine batter a bunch of baddies into pulp only to be downgraded into a powerless spectator watching her hero take down more men then Sunny Deol must have tackled in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha through its over-the-top, prolonged climax.

When they announced Singh is Bliing, I was most curious about its peculiar title and kitschy poster. I don’t know why they called it that. What I do know is all that glitters is not gold.

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Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon: Kapil Sharma’s polygamous fantasy, audiences’ nightmare

Kis Kisko Pyaar KaroonIn Abbas-Mustan’s Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, getting married is not just a life goal but also the solution to any problem. Be it guy dumps you at the altar, guy doesn’t elope as promised or death bed-bound father sees a guy holding your hand, it all boils down to shaadi, shaadi, shaadi.

Because every single woman in this film is a jobless, gullible dodo, it happens sooner than you blink.

Making his screen debut as a man engaged in proliferating polygamy, Comedy Nights With Kapil Sharma’s eponymous host has a field day playing office; he refers to his three accidental wives (Manjari Fadnis, Simran Kaur Mundi, Sai Lokur) as Head/Branch/Area office respectively.

On his lawyer pal’s (Varun Sharma) suggestion, he puts them up in the same building on different floors and is all set to tie the knot for the fourth time to yet another hottie (Eli Avram).

What a cad, right? Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon disagrees. It’s not the same, it insists. On previous three occasions, he was only being a Good Samaritan, this one’s out of love. Trust Bollywood to see a messiah in a philanderer. Bhagwan, aisa pati sabko de, is the most frequently heard dialogue in the movie. Oh my god, he’s even named Shiv, Ram and Kishen, you get the drift?

The Abbas-Mustan farce is in the same mental space as David Dhawan comedies, Saajan Chale Sasural and Gharwali Baharwali, except Kapil is nowhere in the same league as the sprightly Govinda or foxy Anil Kapoor. His poker-face humour and lukewarm screen presence has little impact in the absence of a laugh track.

A foolhardy premise to begin that only gets tedious with the onslaught of worn-out tropes, offensive philosophy, drab songs and escalating confusion in the form of Kapil’s cagey father-in-law to-be (Manoj Joshi), hard of hearing, gangster brother-in-law (Arbaaz Khan), surly maid (Jamie Lever) and super filmi parents (Sharat Saxena, Supriya Pathak). Miraculously enough, the actors don’t adopt the hammy tone of this baloney.

Indeed, the few jokes that do work in this illogical, tardy drivel have more to do with how idiotic they are then amusing. But mostly you cringe at the sight of Kapil posing next to the full moon from a multi-storey’s terrace whilst his starry-eyed wives conduct the Karva Chauth ritual for the four-timing half’s long life. Or, who knows, potential harem?

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The Intern: De Niro and Hathaway hit all the right notes.

The InternAs I sat down to write about Nancy Meyers’ The Intern, I thought how if I treat the movie like one and write its review like a Q & A, an interview. So here goes:

Tell us about yourself.

I dare say, I am old-fashioned, not really big on plot and rely terribly on the chemistry my leading actors generate to look good. Like my tagline suggests — experience never gets old — I am trying to make a valid point about the value of hard-earned wisdom that only comes with age.

It all unfolds when Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), an astute, composed 70-year old retired gentleman comes to work for his industrious, perfectionist boss Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) at an online clothing store in Brooklyn.

Business is booming but like most successful entrepreneurs Jules struggles to spend quality time with her family while resisting the likelihood and humiliation of veteran supervision.

Ben is just what she needs –a modern-day fairy godmother only this Cinderella hosts her own ball, designs her own costume and chariot, all she needs is a little reassurance that nothing will change into rags or pumpkin after midnight.

Share your strengths with us.

Oh, the leading actors, hands down! I wouldn’t be the same in the absence of De Niro’s calibre and Hathaway’s finesse.

Their chemistry is effortless, as are their interactions, pitch-perfect in tone, never overstepping the line yet conveying warmth that’s nuanced and transcends the screen.

They build a lot more than what’s on paper, it is a joy to watch them work together in every sense. It’s to their credit that even the stereotypical interactions around an affable, amusing set of co-workers hit all the right notes.

I am also pretty easy on the eyes. Keeping in the Nancy Meyers tradition of tasteful interiors, I continue to look straight out of a Pottery Barn catalogue.

Can we expect an equally honest answer on your weaknesses?

Like I said earlier, I am not so concerned with conflicts as with the ideals of adult relationships that aren’t remotely romantic or sexual in nature.

But I’m so caught up exploring the workings of startup business in detail that I completely neglect to flesh out Jules’ family and the budding affection between Ben and his office masseur, played most elegantly by Rene Russo.

I’ll admit, there are times when I come across as lazy and lackluster.

Although the idea is to project novelty through Jules’ progressive, stay-at-home, too-good-to-be-true husband, his dedicated rearing of their young daughter, it emerges as the weakest link. Maybe the tame casting is at fault; I really don’t have a good excuse.

There’s a feeble attempt to express the difficulties and judgment a working mother has to cope with from society that either deems her inefficient or overtly ambitious for being a strong-minded individual. But the contrived solutions it offers dilutes the impact of its intent.

Guess I got so preoccupied in appearing wise and avoiding melodrama, I didn’t realise I’m not getting anywhere. I am only glad I figured my mistake before it was too late.

What are your goals with this internship?

To showcase the day-to-day challenges of startups, the need for a support system, the desire for guidance, the beauty of friendships outside one’s age group but most importantly, stress the point that a woman CAN have it all.

There’s a conscious attempt to evoke sympathy for people engaged in e-commerce and customer care.

Why should we hire you?

An easy, breezy office space confection that doesn’t require much of your time or intense emotions, I exude a distinct charm, one that’s rarely seen in pop-culture obsessed material today.

It’s as how Ben describes his handkerchief ritual, “one of the last vestiges of the chivalrous gent.”

Thank you for your honesty.

Thank you for your time.

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