AKA: Singh is King
Year Released: 2008
Distributor: Indian Films/Studio 18/Reliance Entertainment
Running Time: 136 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: Lady for a Day, Pocketful of Miracles, Miracles (1989 Jackie Chan remake)
For Fans Of: Who Killed Captain Alex?, Super Singh, Chandni Chowk to China, No Problem, Khiladi 786
-Special thanks to RJ Singh for indirectly recommending this movie to me (more on that later). Check out his Big Cartel page, his On the Gear store, and his Facebook page.
-The misspelling of the movie title was actually intentional. The reason is due to the creators consulting a numerologist to ensure success (there’s superstitious aspects in the Bollywood industry). Singh is Kinng is far from the only example of this treatment, but maybe those numerologists were onto something because it was the third best-selling film in India back in 2008.
-Singh Is Kinng is actually an Indian remake of Frank Capra’s Lady for a Day and Pocketful of Miracles of all things. Those films were first remade internationally in Hong Kong in 1989 with Jackie Chan’s Miracles movie which explains why they’re under the related films section. On the contrary, another Bollywood film called Singh is Blinng is not related despite having the same lead actor (Akshay Kumar) in the title roles, but those characters are separate.
-This was directed by Modasa-born, Mumbai-based filmmaker Anees Bazmee. Some of his other work includes Hulchul, No Entry, and No Problem. He’s also directed films in multiple languages.
-Three major languages are spoken in Singh is Kinng: Hindi, Punjabi, and English.
-The theme song is performed by Akshay Kumar (Happy Singh himself), Indian-British rap group RDB, and of all people Snoop Dogg. I’m totally serious about this as the D-O-Double Gizzle got involved in a Bollywizzle soundtrack, ya dig? Speaking of that theme and this movie…
-Wrestler Fan Bonus: Independent British wrestler RJ Singh references this movie in multiple ways by having the words “Singh is King” written on his ring gear or shirts as well as him using the aforementioned theme song or the “K.I.N.G.” remix.
-Sonu Sood, the actor who portrays Lucky Singh actually did some charitable work this year. During the Coronavirus pandemic, he personally got multiple buses to rescue stranded migrant workers to bring them back to their respective homes. That act gives a whole other dynamic to Singh Is Kinng when you really consider what happens when Happy is in charge let alone delivering that moral message at the film’s climax.
-Culture Bonus: Singh is the most common last name in all of India with 36 million people having that surname. To put this in perspective, that’s roughly the same amount of people equivalent to the population of Morocco and more than the entire populace of Saudi Arabia from a numbers standpoint.
Of all the international film scenes that I have neglected to review on Iridium Eye, it’s Bollywood. Come to think of it, the only other time I covered anything from India was the short film Sangnam in my review of the Art of the Short Film anthology from Film Movement and that was three years ago. To all of you Bollywood fans out there, I’m terribly sorry and I’m going to make it right to all of you if you had those concerns. As a film critic, I’m doing my best to expand my horizons with various films and countries being represented on here. If you haven’t paid too much attention to my notes or fun facts, then you can see how I would’ve never known about this movie had it not have been due to my unexpected fandom of indie BritWres. Much like Nsereko exposing me to Uganda’s Wakaliwood studios, I would discover this movie after checking out some videos from Indian-British wrestler RJ Singh. It all started after getting exposed to Singh’s work where I saw a match between him and Flash Morgan Webster in Defiant as well as seeing other matches across multiple indie federations in the UK. I found out some of the Hertford-based grappler’s singles work in Progress and found a video of him coming out to a certain theme song alongside an Indian dance troupe as well as an entourage consisting of “Big Wavy” Roy Johnson as well as Jinny (A record 2-time Progress Women’s Champion as well as being featured in WWE’s NXT UK developmental brand) among several others. You need to see this video to believe it. You know it’s amazing when you have an enthusiastic crowd giving “That was awesome!” chants before the match even starts.
I know that RJ Singh is king, but is the movie he references in a good portion of his matches worthy of that title, too?
Singh is Kinng takes place across thousands of miles. In Australia, Lakhan “Lucky” Singh has his own Sikh crime syndicate and he rules over the underworld Down Under. He lives lavishly in a mansion, has several underlings, and is the source of fear throughout the South Pacific. Meanwhile, there is another Singh who lives all the way in a rural village in Punjab. That would be none other than Happy Singh (no relation to Lucky though) who is kindhearted, but such a bumbling idiot. He wrecks half the village by accident just to catch a chicken for some neighbors and his village had enough of him. They decide to send Happy and his frenemy Rangeela to Australia to get Lucky back to India in a ploy to get them out of town as they make an excuse that Lucky’s uncle is dying from a heart attack (it was really an asthma attack and the villagers celebrate their departure). Happy and Rangeela go to the airport and get the wrong boarding pass to Egypt due to the former’s clumsiness and they try to get to Australia. Meanwhile, he falls in love with an Indian lawyer named Sonia while in that North African nation. They finally make it to the Sikh don’s current home, but even that mission is botched to where Lucky is temporarily mute and paralyzed during some gang warfare which also forces Happy to be the new king of the mafia. Since Happy isn’t into the criminal underworld life due to his virtues as well as his clueless nature, he decides to reform the syndicate by having each one take care of common chores such as cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc. Things take a wacky, yet dangerous turn when Sonia shows up in Australia and other gangs want a piece of the action to take over Lucky’s territory. Comedic misunderstandings, romance, gunfights, and multiple musical moments ensue.
I didn’t know what to expect when it came to this film, but I certainly enjoyed several elements of it. The comedy was quite funny with a mix of over the top aspects as well as more understated moments like some deadpan humor. The multiple comedic aspects mixing with the high-octane action worked very well. I was even digging a bunch of the songs used in this. What I didn’t realize was that I had actually heard of one of the songs a long time ago and didn’t even realize it. I had an Indian roommate in college one year who had “Jee Karda” play as his cell phone alarm, but I never made the connection to that song or movie since I didn’t know anything about Bollywood at the time.
Those were some fun tunes incorporating some Indian instrumentation while also adding elements of pop, rap, and EDM thrown in. I could tell that the creators and actors had a lot of fun making Singh Is Kinng which certainly shows in the final product. Some of the plot elements were ridiculous, but there was enough self-awareness while the actors were certainly in on many of the jokes instead of taking things way too seriously. Even though Happy is the hopeful imbecile, he was a likable enough character with how he genuinely wanted to turn the gang members’ lives around to make sure no one got hurt (especially Sonia and Rose in Australia). I know the speech he makes in the end was a bit cheesy, but he just sells it as well as destroying a certain cliche involving usurping family members which I won’t spoil. This certainly kept me entertained for over two hours since I did want to see what would happen next.
Singh Is Kinng does feel less than a regal affair from time to time. Some parts did lean into fanboying other movies or videos. Don’t lie, when Happy was climbing all over buildings to catch the chicken, tell me it didn’t remind you of the “One Jump Ahead” song from Aladdin which becomes even more hilarious when Rose thinks he looks like the title character when she first sees him dressed up after becoming king. Mika’s song is an obvious Michael Jackson homage with the song sounding like MJ’s 90s New Jack Swing-based work (think the “Dangerous” album) and they do the “Smooth Criminal” lean in the middle, but the references become way too egregious. Also, am I the only person who thinks in that musical number that Mika looks like an Indian Shinsuke Nakamura with the get-up and wearing his hair down? Try not to un-see that.
Blockbuster’s (the studio, not the late video rental place) bumper music is totally the “When You Wish Upon a Star” intro in Disney movies just pitch-shifted. LAZY! Some of the humor did fall off the mark for me with some of the stupidity of Happy. It was hard keeping track of some of the characters and their names since this does have a huge cast. Not only that, but some of them came off as more one-note characters to me. I wasn’t a fan of some of the portrayal of some of the characters and locales. I know Happy’s hometown is a far cry from Beverly Hills, but I wasn’t a fan of that brief scene of charity showing that impoverished black family that went absolutely nowhere. I get they were trying to show more of the turn to the good side, but it came off as condescending. If the Sikh mafia were white, I would’ve bashed it as a white savior moment. Not only that, but the other random good deeds Happy and crew do felt a bit shallow as some of those plot points went nowhere like the blind girl for example. I noticed some production errors with some obviously dubbed dialogue which was distracting. Things can get pretty contrived even beyond the realm of comedy or parody. Some of those moments are spoilers such as the wedding for example, and it did stretch things a bit far for me.
This Bollywood film is a nice entry into that particular movie scene. Singh Is Kinng had several fun aspects that kept me entertained. There were some funny parts, some good acting as well as fascinating musical moments to keep up the energy with a good mix of genres. However, some production gaffes and comedic misses didn’t help though. Singh Is Kinng was a good film although I wouldn’t call it kingly enough.
Adjustable Point Scores:
-Add 1-3 points if you’re Bollywood fan.
-Add 1 point if you like comedy in your action movies.
-Subtract 1-2 points if you want perfect production.
-Subtract 1 point if you don’t want as many genre roulette moments.
-Nice comedic aspects
-Fun musical choices
-Distracting dubbing elements that don’t match the lip flaps
-Some dropped plot points that felt shallow
-Movie fanboying can go too far at times
Final Score: 7/10 points
Content Advisory: Singh Is Kinng is fine for teens and up. There’s lots of gunfights and fistfights where multiple redshirts get beat up or die. Some of those moments get bloody including a joke where the recently paralyzed Lucky gets so angry his blood literally boils in a bag as part of a joke while in the hospital. There’s some swearing that gets strong (mainly in English) at times. There’s smoking, drinking (one of the songs is literally about a character getting drunk in the club), and some of the outfits from the female characters get skimpy during some of the musical moments.
All photos and videos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Singh Is Kinng is property of Indian Films, Studio 18, and Reliance Entertainment. The posters are from IMDb and are property of Indian Films, Studio 18, and Reliance Entertainment.