Singh Saab the Great is boring and predictable. Yet I find myself unable to hate it, because it has so much in common with one of my favorite movie experiences of all time: Gunda. Granted, Gunda is a favorite because its sheer ineptitude transforms an earnest-but-terrible movie into a sublime comedy. So the comparison isn’t exactly a compliment for Singh Saab the Great (SSTG, henceforth).
Gunda and SSTG are both revenge movies. SSTG tries to twist the genre in the second half of the film by having the hero sublimate his desire for personal revenge in order to enact structural reform of a corrupt government. But the movie is unable to deny its true nature, and the climax is a fistfight between the hero and the bad guy.
SSTG‘s hero is Sunny (Sunny Deol), a by-the-books government tax collector. He gets into trouble when he shutters the factories of a local don, Bhoodev (Prakash Raj). In retaliation, the don threatens Sunny’s family, including his sister, Guddi, and his much-younger wife, Minnie (Urvashi Rautela).
The age difference between the lead couple — Deol is 57, Rautela is 19 — is so vast that writer Shaktimaan Talwar is forced to address it in the dialog. Sunny bemoans having failed to heed his uncle’s warning against marrying such a young bride. This only serves to draw more attention to the creepy age difference.
As in Gunda, the women in the movie function as sex objects, vulnerable points at which to attack Sunny, or both. Like Ganga — the love interest in Gunda — Minnie’s only duties are to berate Sunny and heave her gigantic bosom during clunky dance numbers in which Deol stomps around like a stiff.
Just like Gunda‘s vastly more entertaining villain, Bulla (“Bulla!”), Bhoodev spends most of his time in his mansion talking about things he’s going to do rather than just doing them. The movie’s single best moment is a pointless, abrupt cut to an underwater shot of Bhoodev floating in his pool, staring directly into the camera. Bhoodev then emerges from the pool in just his swim trunks, for anyone longing for a topless shot of Prakash Raj.
About half of SSTG‘s 150-minute runtime is footage presented in slow-motion: everything from Sunny and Bhoodev striding determinedly, to Guddi and her son falling from a scaffolding, to Minnie tossing her hair over her shoulder a million times. On the flip side, every shot of a vehicle in motion is sped up. Cars driving = boring. Hair tossing = something to be savored.
All of the action sequences are ridiculous and inadvertently funny. Like many so-bad-they’re-good movies, SSTG is made to be shared. Watching this with my brother, Dan, certainly ramped up the hilarity. But even solo, I would’ve laughed out loud at shots of Sunny Deol screaming while leaping ten feet straight up out of a canal.
Watching SSTG with my brother also taught me a little something about sibling relationships. I realize now that, when I got married, I was supposed to have wailed over being parted from my beloved brother. (This parting merits a whole song in Gunda. In SSTG, Guddi just cries).
I also learned that I can’t trust that my brother really cares about me until he’s impaled a couple of guys with bamboo poles and punched a guy into the grill of a truck on my behalf. Get on that, Dan.