Tag Archives: Amy Jackson

Movie Review: Singh Is Bliing (2015)

SinghIsBling2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Singh Is Bliing is an imperfect but entertaining action comedy, and one of Prabhu Deva’s better directorial ventures. The movie offers one of the year’s best comic performances, from an unlikely source.

Akshay Kumar stars as Raftaar Singh, a totally different character from the one he played in 2008’s Singh Is Kinng. The two movies have nothing to do with each other, except that calling Singh Is Bliing a sequel provides a reason for Kumar to play a Punjabi Sikh again, as if one needs a reason.

Raftaar is a typical Bollywood layabout, far too old be mooching off his parents (Kumar is 48). He’s got a pair of lackeys — Pappi (Arfi Lamba) and Pompi (Anil Mange) — who follow him about. Raftaar’s father gives his son an ultimatum: take a job with Dad’s buddy in Goa, or marry an overweight woman, which is apparently a form of punishment.

Dad’s buddy (Pradeep Rawat) assigns Raftaar and his boys the task of guarding Sara (Amy Jackson), daughter of the boss’s friend, who also happens to be an international arms dealer. The problem is that Sara only speaks English, and Raftaar and his friends only speak Hindi.

They hire a translator, Emily (Lara Dutta), who immediately steals the whole film. Dutta is hilarious. Emily gets so into her role that she starts imitating Raftaar’s mannerisms, not just translating his words. She busts out some funky dance moves in a bar after matching Raftaar shot-for-shot.

A particularly clever song sequence sees one of Raftaar’s romantic daydreams about Sara made manifest. Pappi and Pompi notice Raftaar staring into space and decide to join him in his dream, dragging Emily in with them. As the boys provide the background music, Emily serves as Raftaar’s romantic surrogate, herself wooing Sara as she sings in English what Raftaar has just sung in Hindi. It’s very funny and smart.

Unfortunately, the rest of the plot isn’t as intelligent. Multiple story threads fail to come together in a satisfactory way. The big villain of the film — an arms dealer named Mark (Kay Kay Menon) who is a rival of Sara’s father — is a total afterthought, and his few scenes are poorly integrated into the rest of the story. He doesn’t steer the plot until the very end of the film, so Raftaar and Sara are in little serious danger for the bulk of the picture.

This is a shame, because Menon is a skilled scenery chewer. Sporting a ponytail, Menon channels Terry Silver from Karate Kid III, enhancing the similarity by shouting “I like it!”

In a surprising reversal of gender norms, Jackson gets to perform the best fight choreography, while Kumar plays Raftaar as brave but bumbling. Jackson is perfectly suited for action roles, but her acting and dancing could use some work if she wants to branch out. Kumar is likable as ever.

Though Singh Is Bliing isn’t overtly misogynistic like some of Prabhu Deva’s earlier films, there’s a disappointing sequence of victim blaming. Raftaar instructs a pair of women being manhandled by a pair of lecherous men to fight back. He takes the idiotic view that women can prevent sexual assault simply by slapping their attackers.

When the ladies kick their attackers into submission, Raftaar feels vindicated in his opinion (never mind that the two attackers know that Raftaar is waiting to pummel them should they overpower the women).

Later, Sara annihilates a room full of goons, and Pappi and Pompy credit her success to Raftaar’s speech. It’s unclear if this is meant to be a joke, but the statement is followed immediately by a shot of some dancers — one of whom had earlier been punched in the face — hitting the fallen goons, seeming to validate Raftaar as deserving of credit.

Though Singh Is Bliing falls short of its potential, surprisingly fun performances by Dutta, Menon, and butt-kicking Amy Jackson keep the sequel from ever being dull.

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Movie Review: Ekk Deewana Tha (2012)

Zero Stars (out of 4)

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“Sachin, you’re such a selfish jerk.” This is told to the main character by his best friend, and it is the core problem in a movie full of problems. The hero of the romance Ekk Deewana Tha (“There Was a Crazy Guy“) is such an odious bastard that it’s frustrating to see him rewarded with his obligatory happy ending.

The film sets itself up as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet romance between a pair of star-crossed lovers: a Hindu guy and a Christian girl. Religious differences ultimately play little part in the film except as an excuse for her father to object to the marriage (the guy’s parents don’t care). There are plenty of other, better reasons for her parents to object, namely that the guy is a possessive whack-job.

Sachin — the above mentioned “selfish jerk” — is a 22-year-old Hindu, played by a perpetually flustered Prateik. The Christian girl is Jessie (Amy Jackson), a 23-year-old financial analyst who talks during movies. Sachin sees Jessie, falls immediately in love (lust, actually), and sets about wooing her. He isn’t put off by the potential objections of her parents on religious grounds, although he is really bothered by the fact that she’s a year older than him. Huh?

He’s also not put off by the fact that she’s not interested in him. Sachin waits outside their shared apartment complex for Jessie, follows her to work, even travels across the country to see her, despite her protests to leave her alone. On their train journey back to Mumbai from Kerela, he ignores his pledge to just be friends and forcefully kisses her as she tries to push him away.

Sachin offers this defense when Jessie gets upset over his unwanted physical contact: “We were friends, but then I saw you, and I forgot about it.”

Sachin’s feelings of lust for Jessie convince him that they are a sign of his destiny. Because he feels urges, it is divine will that they be satisfied. If Jessie objects, it’s just because he hasn’t sufficiently convinced her that his understanding of the cosmic order is the correct one.

That’s not the logic of a romantic hero. That’s the logic of a rapist.

Furthering the insult to women everywhere, Jessie eventually confesses that her protestations were really her way of masking the true love she instantly felt for Sachin. Take heart, spurned lovers! When a woman says, “No!”, she really means, “Yes! I love you!”

The pain of being subjected to the archaic attitudes toward women in Ekk Deewana Tha is compounded by the fact that the film is mind-numbingly boring for all of its 137 minutes. When not being sexist and offensive, the movie spends its time being long-winded and banal, as Sachin and Jessie talk about how much she likes math and how many movies she’s seen. Listening to them was more like being forced to overhear boring restaurant conversation from a nearby table than witnessing dialogue written by a professional screenwriter.

A strong background knowledge of Bollywood is required to understand the endless, pointless movie references in Ekk Deewana Tha. Likewise, references to language differences between Hindi and Malayalam are lost on English speakers reliant upon subtitles. McDonald’s and Gloria Jeans product placements aside, this is not a film made for an audience outside of India, and Indian audiences deserve better than this.

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