Director Rohit Shetty and actor Ajay Devgn must be elated by the success of their newest film. However, there is a hero in their success tale who does not feature when the credit roles. He is not young like Devgn and does not have six-packs to flaunt, but in my opinion, is a contributor to the sucess of Singham. He is Anna Hazare.
Devgn, in his brawny avatar, is the latest on-screen saviour of the masses who protects them from rampant corruption which has seemingly become synonymous to our political system. While people derive vicarious pleasure in seeing their hero beat up the baddies, the producers of Singham continue to laugh their way to the banks.
There is a sense of restlessness amongst the general public as their tolerance level for corruption has, in the recent years, fallen substantially. From a ‘sab chalta hai’ attitude it has now become ‘ye nahin chalega’. I feel it is this wind of change that film makers have capitalised in the last one year to deliver two of the biggest hits, namely Dabangg and Singham. Otherwise how can you justify the sudden penchant of Hindi film viewers, and I include the multiplex audiences here, towards Rajnikanthesque action? An audience which did not have a palate for Mithun Chakraborty’s movies, where the hero could terminate an entire army of goons just by twisting his wrists, has suddenly found love for heroes who can jump like Batman and fly like Superman.
Both Chulbul Pandey and Bajirao Singham are manifestations of our frustration with the current state of affairs in the country and the audience only wants more of them to beat up the goons (read politicians) who have run this country to ransom. I do not intend to paint all personalities in politics with the same brush, but it is an image ascribed to them because of the rotten ones in the pack, and even the honest ones have to bear the brunt despite their unimpeachable personal integrity report cards.
The point I am making is that art imitates life, and cinema is one of the most potent mediums to reflect the going-ons in a society. It is also not a free commodity (piracy is a different discourse on which I will not dwell upon here), as the audiences pay a price to see a film in a theatre. When a film like Singham finds takers in millions, it only proves that people want something like this to happen in their lives. Their tolerance for corruption has already reached its peak and they want a hero who can demolish a dirty system.
Anna Hazare and his likes are these heroes, if not for every section of the intelligentsia, but definitely for the general public. The old Gandhian would never have enjoyed the public adulation that he currently does if people were not frustrated. It is now a common sight to find common people across Mumbai wearing caps with ‘Aamhi Anna Hajare’printed on them. Mind you these are not necessarily Gandhi/Nehru topis, but come in all shapes. People want change and they are now taking it upon themselves to bring it.
Ofcourse, Dabangg had Munni to help Chulbul Pandey rise in the popularity charts but it is undeniable that when he bragged about making holes (chhed) in the baddy’s body, audiences surely wanted him to do that. Chulbul Pandey with his Robinhood like personality also believed in robbing the rich and being generous to the poor. However, Singham goes a step ahead in etching out the character of the protagonist, as he is shown to be rich and benevolent but incorruptible. I may be reading a little too much in the character design of Bajirao Singham by the makers of the movie, but it looked to me that in the ensuing period since Dabangg’s release last year, people of India have grown furiously averse to even an iota of negative traits in their leaders.
Both Singham and Dabangg are out-and-out action flicks with dollops of romance where the leading ladies are no more than pretty props. They have a linear plot line and the execution of the action scenes is also pretty much the same. I would love to see a day when films like these flop at the Box Office, since that would mean people are no longer able to empathise with the protagonist as the situations in which he operates would be far from reality. It is an utopian thought since Chanakya said that it is not possible for a fish to swim in water but not drink it. However, if the fishes start drinking so much that there is nothing left for others, then it would lead to their own peril.
For now audiences are loving these films and perhaps Singham would turn out to be this year’s biggest hit since everyone, as it seems to me, wants Anna Hazare to win.