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Updated: July 11, 2013 19:07 IST

A leonine performance

S. Shiva Kumar
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Suriya has come a long way: He carries a mediocre film entirely on his shoulders
The Hindu Suriya has come a long way: He carries a mediocre film entirely on his shoulders

Suriya puts out a thorough performance in Singham 2

The Suriya-Hari collaboration has spelt success at the box-office. More important is the comfortable camaraderie they share. “I don’t think I can ever say no to him,” says Suriya, with a glint of affection in his eyes. “He works fast, is very sure of what he wants and doesn’t waste a single rupee. He makes no pretensions of churning out cinematic masterpieces either.” Suriya tries to do at least one film in a year with one of his favourite directors. Now the films this duo churns out belie their respective characters. They are both introverts who are soft spoken to the extent of sounding inaudible. The scripts Hari writes makes you wonder if he’s reliving secret fantasies through Suriya.

Sequels are not easy. Other than the fact that success is a grey area with nobody being able to pin-point the exact reason, expectations are sky-high. Heroism doesn’t change in our films. As a commoner he combats evil forces in khaki and khadi who’re always in collusion and emerges unscathed walking away with the rich, fair heroine. In this scenario, the good policeman arrives last. The hero fights the same evil forces even when he dons the uniform. The difference is that the fight is from within and the killing is somewhat legitimate. Sequels with the hero playing a cop are easy because he just has to relocate and crack another case. The only problem unlike the Bond series is that we cannot change the heroine unless she’s killed. So in ‘Singham 2’ we have the heroine who pines for him because they’re temporarily separated and there’s the second one who’s infatuated. In the sequel, the hero who’s the Home Minister’s blue-eyed boy is posted in Tuticorin to check smuggling of arms from across the border. He’s incognito, working as a NCC officer in a school. While sleuthing he stumbles upon a drug smuggling cartel headed by a dreaded South African. After bringing the local dons to their knees he heads off to Durban and single-handedly brings back the international crook leaving the Proteas gaping. “Singham da,” shouts the fan sitting next to me.

Hari is a master manipulator. He knows every trick in the little black box-office book. He puts every conceivable ingredient in the right measure, be it sentiment, comedy or action and churns out fare that sates even the most die-hard Suriya’s fan. I may not agree with his style, but who can argue with the elusive box-office? Yes, the film is loud with jarring music, bad cinematography and definitely not politically correct with the dark skinned being constantly made fun of. The heroines look lacklustre and the Vivek-Santhanam duo barely makes you smile, but then there’s Suriya. He’s all fire and brimstone when encountering the baddies and soft as butter in room temperature with the heroines. He carries this mediocre film entirely on his slender shoulders, be it his trademark ‘Singham’ moustache, his gait and dialogue delivery not to mention those sensitive eyes. Nobody else, save Kamalhaasan has eyes that can mirror every conceivable emotion. Suriya has come a long way, from being wooden in ‘Nerukku Ner’ to his current versatile self.

Now this is not to take away anything from Hari’s directorial abilities. The best thing about him is that he’s unpretentious. He prefers to hear the loud jingle at the box-office to holding a trophy on-stage and making thank you speeches. He works hard to please his producer and fans rather than critics. You can see that what he makes is what he likes to watch because nothing is tongue-in-cheek. There’s an earnestness that’s endearing. You don’t wish you had a remote in hand while watching his film because everything moves in fast-forward mode be it the cars or even the camera panning. ‘Singham 2’ is a daunting 2 hours and 48 minutes long, but nobody is complaining. The theatre was 80 per cent full on a weekday afternoon with constant, loud cheering. Like the original, the sequel will be remade in various languages. Hari’s showcase maybe empty but the queue of producers in front of his house is lengthening.

sshivu@yahoo.com

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