I suppose what makes these Singam sequels work is how little opportunity you’re allowed for any reflection over what you’re seeing. There isn’t a single quiet moment. At all times, the background music is on full alert. You’re never allowed to linger in a scene, get familiar with a shot. It’s all a blur of raucous talk and rancid music (Harris Jayaraj, almost unbelievably). Add to this morphing shots of graphical lions, and blend into this sound effects of clashing metal. It’s a calculated assault in every way.
Cast: Suriya, Anushka Shetty, Shruti Haasan
Story: An Australian criminal takes on a destructive part-human, part-lion hybrid cop
The respectability that a Prakash Raj brought to the film by playing villain is now a fading distant memory. The villain in this film, Vittal (Thakur Anoop Singh), is introduced in his underwear, as he’s flexing muscles. He’s in Australia and well-insulated from any possible carnage that Duraisingam (Suriya) has a proclivity for. He’s well armoured, and I don’t know if that’s why he’s wearing a brand of underwear called Underarmour. Don’t blame me; they show it. This seems like the sort of film that may well have put thought into these poetic details. The idea that he’s treating India as a dumpyard is interesting, but Si3 doesn’t have the intelligence or intent to explore it.
There isn’t a single moment of humour in Si3’s 155 minutes. Soori is no Vivek, and it shows. He continues his cursed manner of attempting to generate laughs through rhyming lines. At various times, he rhymes ‘kammi’ with ‘Jimmy’, ‘police’ with ‘foolish’, and ‘panni’ with… He attempts the last ‘joke’ twice. Like Arjun in Mudhalvan who makes the villains kneel on the road and repeat, “Pengal en kangal”, somebody needs to make our comedy writers repeat, “Rhymes aren’t jokes”, until they truly believe it.
Si3’s comedy team trying to think of jokes
While Si3 may not be funny, there are parts of it that are downright amusing. The existence of hapless villains, for one, who fail to make Duraisingam even sweat. Duraisingam himself, at one point, says, “You can’t pluck a thread from my cap.” Seriously, who is writing these lines? The Underarmour underwear-wearing villain’s Tamil is another source of great amusement. But before Duraisingam can confront him, he has to deal with a bunch of Telugu thugs. Hari knows how big the franchise is in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; so he even makes Duraisingam a Telugu cop at one point. Much before Duraisingam makes his foreign trip to trash-talk with Vittal, he has already done it for a couple of duets with his wife (Anushka Shetty), and a journalist (Shruthi Haasan) who’s in love with him. The mandatory trip to Sydney is undertaken if only so Australian security folk, in a believe-it-or-not scene, can salute him. I’m pretty sure I heard somebody call him the ‘Universal Cop’. This Thoothukudi Sub-Inspector has sure come a long way. There’s even a line about this new title that goes, “Universal Cop. He’s very very sharp.” Seriously, who is writing these lines?
Anushka’s character is quickly becoming as obsolete as the franchise itself, and as for Shruthi Haasan, she plays a strange character who claims to be smitten by Duraisingam first, then proceeds to introduce herself as an IPS trainee, and then reveals that she’s an investigative journalist before eventually plunging into love, following a dressing down from Duraisingam.
Duraisingam himself isn’t the most liberal man who lived. He says, “Women shouldn’t come to police stations.” When he’s later at a not-so-crass bar, he says, “Women shouldn’t come to these places.” As an airport security guard asks Duraisingam’s wife to remove her thaali, he sees her arguing about it, and beams with pride.
Duraisingam’s favourite film
But the bigger issue is Duraisingam’s professional issues, stemming mainly from his unbridled anger. He starts off trying to be like Vikram in Saamy, but he just can’t control his temper. It’s almost laughable. In one scene, he starts off pretending to support the evil guy, but as he sees a woman being molested, he goes ballistic. He doesn’t just hurt that one hoodlum, but ruins his whole act by channelling his inner lion. In another scene, he’s trying to be all subtle with an Andhra rowdy. But a dig at Tamil Nadu police department later, he’s pouncing on them in red hot fury. Duraisingam is horrible when he’s trying to be discreet. He even says he trusts emotions, not evidence. It just doesn’t seem like he brings a whole lot to the table as a senior police officer apart from old-fashioned good intent and plenty of anger issues.
If there’re a couple of things to be liked about the film at all, it’s the sincere nods in the direction of the previous two Singam films. Hari uses the drug dealer takedown angle to rescue Singam from a sticky situation in Australia. In another scene, Shruti Haasan’s character is almost comatose, and a brief shot reminds us that he suffered a similar loss in the second film when Hansika’s character dies. If Si3 works at all, it’s on account of Suriya’s thoroughly intense, invested performance. He is Narasimha avatar incarnate, red eyes, fiery dialogues, and all. In a sense, he’s almost our version of The Hulk. He’s perennially raging, and in a sense, it’s quite entertaining. In one scene, he loses his cool for the 12th time in about 10 minutes, and calls a bad guy an “eNbadhu kilo erumai”. I spat laughter.
When you tell Duraisingam that his hair looks dishevelled
Also funny, even if Hari didn’t mean them to be so, are the scenes that keep morphing Duraisingam’s face with a VFX lion’s, as he leaps and lands punches. They almost play like a parody. Hari ends the film by threatening us with another sequel. I don’t know if that will materialise, but if it does, I have little doubt that it will be the closest any Tamil fictitious character has ever come to playing an animal. Perhaps they may even run a Nat Geo documentary of a lion protecting his pride alongside Duraisingam protecting his family. I don’t know. He’s more a roaring lion and less a human in these films anyway.