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Another week, another Singh

india Updated: Sep 26, 2011 13:49 IST
Gursimran Khamba
Gursimran Khamba
Hindustan Times
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I'm not sure how many of you saw Speedy Singh's (box office reports would establish you probably haven't) - Akshay Kumar's second venture to be borne out of his joint venture with the Canadian government - but a clichéd cultural clash story apart, it signifies what I feel has become the new Bollywood formula - the Singh.

Bollywood bigwigs have mostly always been Punjabi/North Indian and thus invariably end up making films that sensibility. But what we have seen, especially since movies like Singh is Kinng, is a major focus on this demographic domestically and abroad because of its economic strength. Early Bollywood movies (post-liberalisation) started with characters speaking a bad mish-mash of Hindi and Punjabi, to an increasing number of plots being centred on Punjab (especially those that catered to the diaspora) to a situation now where Sikh and Punjabi characters have moved on from the slapstick sidekick to playing the main lead. Having a Punjabi "party number" seems to have become a norm, especially if one can get a famous American rapper to substantiate with grunts and "ahan's" in the background.

Visits to local shrines (I never understood how god would be able to help if you've made a rubbish movie - by brainwashing people into watching it?) to marketing techniques like offering free tickets to everyone who has Singh as their surname (as with Speedy Singh's) have all become part of this collective effort of interpellating audience members into thinking that the movie is about their representation instead of holding its own in terms of content.

Will this trend continue? With the Punjabification of everything Bollywood and television I would imagine there would be a breaking point where people would demand more quality content instead of now where they're still happy to see their likeness on the big screen. Or would we have Yamla Pagla Deewana 14, Mausam 4 and Speedy Singh's - Rise from the Ashes being made simply because the formula makes easy economic sense?