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SINGH IS KINNG. Director: Anees Bazmee. Players: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Om Puri, Kirron Kher, Javed Jaffrey, Neha Dhupia, Kamal Chopra, Sudanshu Pandey, Yashpal Sharma, Ranvir Shorey, and Sonu Sood. Music: Pritam. Theatrical Release: August 2008.

Featuring the popular romantic-lead pair, Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, along with hit director Anees Bazmee and successful producer-director Vipul Amrutlal Shah, Singh is Kinng has been one of the most awaited films of 2008. Does the film succeed in its venture to entertain? If you’re in the right frame of mind, it does.

Lucky Singh (Sood) is one of the “baddest” gangsters in Australia. His clan of goons includes his blind and hard-of-hearing brother Mika (Jaffrey), wannabe actress Julie (Dhupia), sorrowful Udhaas (Sharma), and a few others. Back in his hometown village of Punjab, trouble-maker Happy Singh (Kumar) is given the task of bringing Lucky back to see his ailing father for one last time. Much to his chagrin, Lucky’s friend Rangeela (Puri) is made responsible for looking after Happy as he embarks out of the village for the first time in his life. Confusion at the airport lands Happy and Rangeela in Egypt instead of Australia, where Happy meets the woman of his dreams, Sonia (Kaif). After a song and dance sequence at the Great Pyramids of Egypt, Happy and Rangeela arrive in Australia. But Lucky has no intention of returning to his village. Homeless and hungry, Happy befriends a flower-shop owner (Kher), whom he regards as the mother he never had. An unexpected shoot-out with rival gangs leads to a comic change in gangster-leadership.

Singh is Kinng strives purely to entertain. Leave aside any semblance of logic and reason, and the film does just that. Kumar’s opening hen-chasing scene is hilarious and sets the tone for this slapstick comedy. Kumar is great as a mischievous but sentimental villager; authentic Punjabi adds to his performance. Kaif looks good and is dressed well, but her Hindi is horrible and acting cringeworthy. Puri is wonderful, as always, but almost disappears by the end of the film, and you wish he had a larger role. Kher is better than in some of her previous melodramatic performances (i.e. Devdas).

The first half of the film is thoroughly enjoyable, with very little plot and a whole lot of gags. There are also four songs in the first half, which is too many, considering there are another three after intermission. The second half attempts to throw in some emotion, as Happy converts gangsters into caring, warm people. Luckily, director Bazmee doesn’t waste much time on sentiment. The only sympathy he has is for Happy, who selflessly plans Sonia’s wedding to wealthy businessman Puneet (Shorey).

One can’t help but be reminded of Namaste London, in which Kumar silently pines for his lady love, Kaif, also engaged to another man. No surprise, then, that the director of Namaste London (Shah) is the producer of Singh is Kinng. In many ways, Singh is Kinng feels like Namaste London repackaged in Bazmee fashion, gags galore.

The film’s production value is excellent; both songs amidst the pyramids are beautifully shot. Pritam’s music is good, especially “Jee Karda,” “Bas Ek King,” “Bhootni Ke,” and, of course, the famous Snoop Dogg number, “Singh is Kinng.” One can only imagine how much that added to the film’s budget!Singh is Kinng is perfect for those who want a good laugh.

Antara Bhardwaj is an independent filmmaker based in San Francisco.