Jun 07 2010


Published by at 11:12 pm under Review,Tamil Cinema


Though Hari started strong with Thamizh and Saamy, his subsequent films were disappointing, the worst of which were soaked in gratuitous violence(Aaru) and regressive melodrama(his last film, Seval). But he shows us that he hasn’t completely lost his touch in Singam, his 10th film. With able support from an in-form Suriya, he crafts a racy masala flick where the pace and the action help overlook the familiarity in the proceedings.

Duraisingam(Suriya) is the SI at Nalloor police station near Thoothukudi. Having become a cop due to his dad’s wishes, he tries to find a peaceful resolution for disputes among the townsfolk. Kavya(Anushka), who is visiting her grandparents in Thoothukudi, falls for Duraisingam and it isn’t long before he develops similar feelings for her. Mayilvaganam(Prakashraj), a Chennai dada who runs a virtual real estate mafia by getting a percentage of all real estate deals in the city, is asked to sign in at the Nalloor police station. When Duraisingam stands up to him, he has him transferred to the Thiruvanmayur police station in Chennai.

Singam doesn’t try to offer anything new. Its ‘sincere cop vs powerful rowdy’ story is the basis for pretty much every masala cop story and is made up of familiar elements (like the cop standing up to the rowdy, being put in his place because of the rowdy’s connections, etc.) and characters(like the corrupt superior officer). Other stand-alone segments like Anushka being harassed by a rowdy and Suriya teaching him a lesson are also stock cop-movie fare with even the dialogs(the rowdy referring to the power of the uniform) and actions(Suriya thrashing him sans khaki shirt) being very familiar. But the fast pace ensures that the familiarity doesn’t turn into boredom.

In his recent films, Hari has placed more emphasis on sentiments, which unfortunately manifested as melodrama. In Singam, the emphasis is on action and this turns out to be a good thing. From the first face-to-face encounter between Prakashraj and Suriya, the film turns into a non-stop fight for oneupmanship between them. Breaks for romance(facilitated by Suriya moving to Chennai) and sentiments(in the form of Suriya’s family’s affection for him and the friction between Radharavi and Nasser) are brief and proceed without much drama since any conflicts are easily resolved.

The film’s biggest asset is its racy screenplay that zips along fast enough to prevent the feelings of deja vu from setting in too frequently or for too long. The high-voltage meetings between Suriya and Prakashraj with some strong dialogs; the fight sequences with the stop-motion edits; the fast camera zooms through the streets – all these contribute to the fast pace the movie maintains from start to finish. And just when things begin to get a bit repetitive, the revelation about Prakashraj’s other antisocial activities helps up the ante since Suriya’s mission is no longer personal and becomes bigger than just bringing down a rich and powerful rowdy.

Romance is the biggest casualty amidst all the action. The scene in the temple manages to blend romance and comedy nicely but after that, the romance serves only to serve as lead-in to the duets. Comedy gets a slightly bigger role with Vivek getting his own comedy track. The track skirts vulgarity at a few places but manages to raise a few laughs in some of the segments (the episode that brings Vivek to Chennai being one of them). More importantly, Hari knows when to stop since the track is discontinued once the pace picks up.

Suriya acts as though he doesn’t realize that he is in a masala movie and that’s eventually what makes the movie work. He plays the hero without playing to the gallery (i.e. he has several strong dialogs but without any off-screen subtexts, they don’t sound like punch dialogs) and that brings a much-needed intensity to the role. Anushka is tall and leggy and her costumes in the song sequences, especially En Idhayam, are designed mainly to show off those – and a few other – attributes. She plays a key part in Suriya’s career path but barring that one scene, has as much to do as the heroines in other hero-centric masala movies. Prakashraj has played several roles similar to thisone and doesn’t do anything to differentiate from those other roles. The steps and expressions of both Suriya and Anushka make Kaadhal Vandhaale… work better onscreen than when listening to just the audio.

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Singam”

  1. Venoth says:

    Just as most masala movies, Singam’s story is a old as the hills. But what makes the movie stand out is the racy screenplay, the powerful dialogues, Surya’s fiery acting, and the the overall presentation of the movie. This is where directors of movies like Sura, Aasal and Villu have failed to perform. This movie is highly watchable despite of its usual story due to these factors. I feel that Surya is steadfast on his way to become the next Kamalhaasan, alternating between character-based and mass masala movies, and still performing in both types and delivering hit after hit. The question of who is the next to take over Rajinikanth’s place still remains a doubt with both Ajith & Vijay lashing out above average and flop movies one after another. They need to wakeup from their long slumber and choose better scripts and dorectors.

  2. bart says:

    Singam does what it promised. Unabashed, at your face entertainer with no real novelty in treatment. Fully agree that the fast screenplay takes you through the fare quickly. Negatives are many but this is a movie as they say, “.. anubavikkanum. Aarayakoodadhu”. A few notes here though:

    Devi Sri Prasad really does not stand out in his songs. But the english rap bit in back ground and the action theme “singam, singam, eeswara singam?” work very well in the movie. Hari has really innovated (?) with that shortish western song between Surya n Anushka in the village (without flashcuts and editing jugglery it is like oil on water!).

    Morphing Surya to Lion (Padayappa anyone?) has been over used. Radharavi and Vijayakumar have been swapped for a change from their usual roles in this movie. Few serious dialogues are funny though – “oangi adicha ondra ton weightu…”, “pasikku pongala thirudunavana manichuralam, rusikku payasam saapdaravana mannikkave mudiyadhu”??!! etc.). Vivek manages to make us smile in a few places but somehow almost all his jokes end or point to one and only one point .. Somewhere, I read that the movie was written with Vijay as lead who rejected and it passed on to Surya. hmm.. Nelathukku vandha Surava Singam soup poattu saaptruchu.

  3. Srijith says:

    Even with surya’s acting and prakash raj not having much to differentiate, I felt the movie would not have clicked, if the villain character did not have some one with the screen presence of Prakash Raj playing it.

  4. Even though Singam was another run of the mill masala flick, I really enjoyed the same. It was racy, fast paced and enjoyable. I guess Vivek has to do something different as his comedy is getting a little bit stale nowadays. This is where Vijay has to learn from Surya as even a masala will only work if it has the right ingrediants in the right proportion.

  5. Singam is possibly one of the best old-fashioned masala movies in recent memory. Hari made a wise decision when he decided to borrow a lot of aspects that made Saamy work. Even though it was sometimes a bit too similar to Saamy especially in the second half, it was also thoroughly enjoyable. As I said in the other post, none of the people I have talked to have said anything bad about it.

    The worst part of the movie is the Vivek comedy track. A lot of it was very bad and unfunny for the most part, and the only sequence that made me laugh was the one you mentioned in your review. Most people also found some of the dialogues laughably funny, the ones you mentioned in your review and the one where Surya talks to the AC about being in an AC room were the ones that raised the most laugh.

    Still, overall, it was definitely a very fun movie. And a nice choice by Surya again, which makes him the perfect candidate to take over from Kamal. In fact, if you look the off-screen relationship between both of them, it looks to be mostly like mentor-student which would tell that Kamal has already made his decision.

  6. ram says:

    suriya did well in singam but i dont know what this talk is about suriya “alternating” between meaningful cinema and masala cinema…apart from vaaranam aayiram, all his recent movies were masala movies…true that his masala movies with the odd exception of crap like aaru tend to be a bit classier and a tad more sophisticated than the average ones…but suriya’s penchant for meaningful cinema is yet to be witnessed the way kamal’s was post naayagan…kamal was exactly suriya’s present age – 34 – when he acted in nayagan…so, maybe in a few years, suriya will gradually shift towards investing a little more time and energy in meaningful cinema…

  7. anon says:

    hi ram,

    i totally agree about your persperctive on surya’s choice of movies. but please dont compare kamal’s movies when he was 34 to surya’s movies! kamal has/had immenss talent and immense experience at 34 when compared to surya whom we have started to notice only after kaaka kaaka. Surya CANNOT handle a nayagan! period!


  8. skandadeva2 says:

    No other actor can be compared to Kamalahasan, even suryah, vikram. Amir khan are no match to Kamal’s talents and dedication. Suryah, Vikram know how to act but Kamal lives and breathes the character he plays. The nuances and detailing he brings in every character, is something every actor should learn. i have nothing against suryah, and like his acting, but he should not be compared to kamal, his attempts are laudable, but not come to the level of perfection that Kamal has achieved.

  9. I don’t think anybody compared Surya to Kamal. Surya is a “made” actor (i.e. he had no natural ability when he started out) whereas Kamal is a born-genius. I am, first and foremost, a Kamal fan myself and will be the first one to say Kamal and Sivaji are beyond comparison. Just like Kamal took over from Sivaji, I fully expect Surya to take over the mantle from Kamal. That is what I meant in my previous post. To compare anything to Nayagan (the greatest Tamil movie ever made) is blasphemous as far as I am concerned, so I usually stay away from it as far as possible. But I stand by my thought that Suriya is well on his way to taking over from Kamal as the meaningful star of his generation.

  10. Balaji says:

    Venoth, I agree. though IMO the order of those would be screenplay, Suriya, presentation and dialogs. and it was in the first of those 4 that the other movies u mentioned failed big time.

    bart, hmmm not able to recollect that western song in the village. as for those dialogs, I thot they sounded a bit lame in the trailers but in the movie, in the overall scheme of things, I felt Suriya made them work.
    Loved the last time :)

    Srijith, very true. Prakashraj always brings something special to his role though he has become so stereotyped.

    Giri, yeah its been a while since Vivek had a memorable comedy track. this was probably one of his better ones in recent times and that tells us a lot about the quality of his recent work.

    Balaji/ram/anon/skanda, I think its his upcoming movies that makes people(including me) talk about his alternating masala and meaningful cinema. but even there it can only be the kind of movies he does rather than his talent in doing those when they r compared. their age may be the same but he lacks the raw talent and the experience kamal had when he did ‘naayagan’ and so I’d say he’s still a long long way off from being anywhere near being talked about in the same breath as kamal.

  11. APALA says:

    Dear Balaji,

    I think Singam was a good mass masala entertainer – which is sginature brand of Hari, I guess! My only wish was that they could have cut down on the nosie-level!
    Contrary to your observation, I thought Anushka had a role which is of some worth and length, more than what girls would get in these kind of movies!!!!
    And all those comments on Suriya (or vikram) taking over from Kamal …………. well, I don’t think they are anyway near eve 10% of what Kamal is. Also please note that, Kamal is not only a born-genius in acting but in all aspects of Cinema – from Direction, script writing, ……………… where none of these guys can even think of doing! Kamal is in a LEAGUE OF HIS OWN. I like Suriya in the current bunch…….but never would compare him to the Greatest Talent on Earth called Kamal Haasan! Period.

  12. vijay says:

    When people compare surya and kamal, they just mean that with the current crop of actors, only surya could be thought of even trying to reach kamals heights.

    On a side note, i found the jump cuts, stopmotion effects and fast camera zooms kinda overdone in this movie. Its like watching a wedding video with all those special effects and transitions appearing every 5th minute. But zillion times better than sura and vettaikaran.

    One thing I fail to understand is how difficult is to learn dancing ? when I see all those tv shows with young guys trying their best, i guess surya can do lot more.

  13. Vimal says:

    Surya’s main asset is that he can handle both commercial and arty roles…in terms of pure talent, he’s behind Vikram (Pithamagan and Anniyan are amazing performances)….BUT he makes up for it with his choice of movies….Vikram hasn’t been in a decent one since Anniyan (though Raavanan will probabaly change that)….when compared to the other young actors…its this balancing act that gives him the edge…some (Jeeva, esp. in the masterpiece Katrathu Tamizh and the very good Raam), Bharath (in Kaadhal), etc. are fit more for art movies while others (Vijay, Jayam Ravi etc.) are suitable for masala flicks….Surya has excelled in both (just look at Pithamagan and Ayan)

    Of course…no actor in the industry can be compared with Kamal…..Vikram comes close….but doesn’t have Kamal’s skill set and creativity…..

  14. bart says:

    Bb, even i do not recollect the lyrics fully but it is at the point where Surya goes to Anushka and scolds angrily at her on her telling lies and following him around. She expresses her love for him and then he goes back in his bike without telling anything in slo-mo until he reaches his house.. This bit plays in the background :) [probably it has bits of “she stole my heart”]
    I think it will be difficult to spot in current crop someone equal to T.Rajendhar’s level of creativity (story, screenplay, dialogues, lyrics, sets (art direction), music, photography, acting and direction)! Let alone Kamal .. Just purely on acting merit, few of them come in the radar but not anywhere close yet.

  15. Maddy says:

    Singam has no pretense..it is an all-out action fest. Surya has finally joined in the league of Vijay and Ajith as an equal as a mass hero , completing a triumvirate (leaving behind vikram,, who try as he might can never reach this)..
    The dialogues were never overdone..Surya had the aggressiveness to carry on the role..

    Hari’s screenplay is the most taut/fastest of this year..

    Whatz the necessity of comparing Surya with Kamal? Apples and Oranges.
    Kamal is second best to Sivaji..No one can dispute..
    As for “Greatest Talent on Earth”..Unnamum Gunduchattikulla Kudhirai Otturoma?

    As for all the “uncles” who still live in their late 80s Nayagan World..Wake up..
    Can you compare Nayagan with Pasamalar/Paava mannippu? Same things apply here..Both have 25 years difference catering to different audience by different actors..
    Stop living in your world and think from this “generation’s” POV.. EVOLVE..

    Singam Singam ..He is oru singam….Looking forward to the Part 2.

  16. APALA says:


    >> As for “Greatest Talent on Earth”..Unnamum Gunduchattikulla Kudhirai Otturoma?

    NaangaLum, yethO thirai kadal Odi thiraviyum thEdittuthaNNA irukkOM! Konjam anbu kAranamA, athigamA sonnALum kooda, oru vagayil uNmaiyum irukkungaNNa!!!!

    Athanala, Kamal avargal top-u thAnugaNNA!

    >> Kamal is second best to Sivaji..No one can dispute..

    I think Kamal reached far higher levels of excellence than his mentor – my humble opinion.

    You are talking about generation gaps —- Kamal’s movies are far ahead of their times, as you might have come across manier times!!! So there is ONLY overlap (not gap)!!!