by Rajeev MasandGiven that Prabhudheva's last two directorial outings were the excruciating potboilers Action Jackson and R"¦Rajkumar, you'd be forgiven for approaching his latest with some trepidation. But Singh is Bliing, starring Akshay Kumar, is an improvement over those films. A lot of it "“ particularly the first half "“ is laugh-out-loud hilarious. What's more, the women in the film don't exist merely to be pinched and groped like in those films "“ they have reasonably fleshed out roles, and they often steal the show from our hero.
Akshay Kumar is Raftaar Singh, the stereotypical goodhearted-but-dimwitted Sikh who loves his mum, fears his dad, and does precious little with his life. He's packed off to Goa to work for his father's friend, and there he meets Sara (Amy Jackson), a young lady from Romania who's got a crazy gangster (Kay Kay Menon) stalking her. Our hero speaks no English, Sara speaks no Hindi. Enter Lara Dutta playing a translator named Emily.
It's these portions in Goa, centered on Raftaar, Sara, Emily, and Raftaar's two bumbling buddies (Arfi Lamba and Anil Mange) that are the most enjoyable bits in the film. Lara Dutta is a real hoot, revealing a terrific flair for physical comedy that one had no idea she possessed. A running joke about her sleepwalking habit will leave you in splits. Amy Jackson too, gets her fair share of screen time as a tough chick who can take on a mini army of bad guys without breaking a sweat. How refreshing to see the woman play the protector for a change!
But hey, there's no getting away from the fact that this is a Prabhudheva film, so there are sexist jokes aplenty including one in which Amy, sitting on Akshay's lap while driving a car, navigates through a series of bumps. It all goes further downhill in the film's deathly boring second half, when the comedy makes way for romance and corny melodrama, and then climaxes in the typical "hero-saves-the-day" action routine.
Yet with all its faults, Singh is Bliing isn't entirely unwatchable also because Akshay Kumar is in great form. He brings a manic energy to the comedy, infusing Raftaar Singh with goofiness and sheer likability that stays till the end, long after the film has stopped being fun. I'm going with two-and-a-half out of five.