Of course, a part of why I've begun to really appreciate Akshay is because it seems that the more popular he gets, the more his roles suit him as an actor. When sitting down with my (pirated, oh the shame!) copy of Singh Is Kinng, I had some reservations, though. Being respectful of minorities has never been Hindi films' greatest strength, and on top of that, haven't we seen enough films showcasing Punjabi pride by now?
Instead of Punjab glorification, the film turned out to be Vipul Shah's spin on Munnabhai-like philosophies. Akshay plays Happy Singh, a well-meaning but clumsy villager whose fellow men trick him to get him to leave the village - Happy has to travel to Australia to retrieve Lucky Singh (Sonu Sood) back to the village to meet his (supposedly) ill father. Lucky, however, has become the king to a happy bunch of goofy sardar mobsters in Australia and after some plot turns, Happy finds himself leading the gang himself - but with his own, unusual methods..
It's a given that these sort of films will include some of the vapidest stuff you'll ever see in your life, but the movie never seemed painfully idiotic on the whole. The film only really fails when you can see Aneez Bazmee, the director, going for the emotional, touching moments but doing it so heavy-handedly that it fails to move the viewer. Happy bringing out the good in criminals is somewhat heart-warming, though, and Akshay pulls the character off with sincerity so despite the missteps, the story of the film works as a whole.
As for other performances, most of them are very much two-note comic characters (fun enough to make you chuckle). Neha Dhupia stood out for me as the witty, gun-touting, filmi-crazed gangstress - I hope she gets more nice roles like this one. Katrina Kaif is very pretty, but still not a good actress. I can't put my finger on why her jodi with Akshay works nonetheless - it's either that they look good together (superficiality never goes out of style!) or that because they've done so many films together, she's learning to match him.
The soundtrack isn't very good, but being annoyingly Pritam, it's very catchy all the same. In other words, I've had "Tere or" stuck in my head all day, and that's only because I knew not to listen through that damn Snoop Dogg song (please let it be noted here that I am usually all for Hiphop Meets Bollywood type of musical expeditions - this time the song is awful, the video is awful, and everything about it is just not working).
Then I saw Bhool Bhulaiyaa. I usually do like to check out Southie originals to Bollywood remakes but this time, I hadn't had the chance to. I had seen some bits from Chandramukhi, the Tamil version. Thanks to this, I knew some details about the plot, but a testament to either my short memory or the movie's good narration, I didn't really think about those things until they revealed themselves in the film.
A young descendent of a royal family Siddharth (Shiney Ahuja) decides to live in the deserted mansion after his marriage to Avni (Vidya Balan). His family agrees to renovate the place, but the third floor remains locked up - it's believed to be haunted. Avni is curious about the rooms behind the locked doors, and Siddharth agrees to let her open them. Shortly afterwards, bad things begin to happen and Radha (Amisha Patel), Siddharth's childhood friend, is suspected of being possessed by a ghost. Two experts are called to aid - one Hindu priest, and one psychiatrist (Akshay Kumar).
Even without seeing the original films, I feel like I can safely assume Priyadarshan's direction squeezes only half of the potential the story has. And even that little makes for quite an entertaining film. Vidya Balan does a great job, and Akshay is in good form as the odd but clever psychiatrist Aditya (though the science in the film might be more than a bit fuzzy, but then, who's minding when Akshay gets to have lines like "I want to go beyond the limits of conventional psychology"?).
Some of the comedy interludes weren't integrated all that well but fun all the same, and while the soundtrack mostly relies on That One Song, it's overall on the harmless side (except for the catchy-as-hell "Hare ram, hare ram, hare krishna, hare ram" chant you hear on one of the tracks).
Actually, watching these two films nearly back-to-back, it almost felt like watching a TV show. Everybody Loves Akshay?