Post-9/11, Ranveer (Gulzar Inder Chahal) travels to the US to help his family after it becomes a victim of hate crime. He discovers that South Asians, especially Sikhs and Muslims, are being targeted for their turbans and skin colour. He joins forces with an ex-cop, Fateh Singh (Puneet Issar), a Pakistani, Rizwan (Rizwan Haider), and a few others to fight back. What happens next? Find out more in the review of I Am Singh.
Business rating: 1 / 5 stars
Star cast: Gulzar Inder Chahal, Puneet Issar, Rizwan Haider, Tulip Joshi, Brooke Johnston, Amy Rasimas.
What’s Good: The constant references to and from Sikhism which will appeal to the Punjabis and Sikhs in the audience; a couple of song picturisations.
What’s Bad: The disgustingly silly, lifeless and done-to-death script; the boring drama; the irritating English dialogues; the never-ending rhetoric; the below-average performances; poor editing.
Verdict: I Am Singh is a botched fare that will fail to do anything at the box-office, save maybe, in some pockets of Punjab.
Loo break: Several.
Watch or Not?: Watch I Am Singh at your own risk.
P.S. Thind’s I Am Singh (UA) is about the post-9/11 hate crimes against the South Asian community, especially Sikhs, in the US.
Days after the 9/11 attacks on America, Ranveer Singh (Gulzar Inder Chahal), a young, rich man who lives in Chandigarh, travels to the US when he finds out that one of his elder brothers has been killed, while the second is missing, and his injured father is in hospital. Once in the US, Ranveer consoles his mother and sister-in-law and sets out to find what really happened. He approaches the police force, which is non-committal. He also approaches a few eye-witnesses who refuse to help him. Then, he meets a Pakistani, Rizwan (Rizwan Haider), who was not just an eye-witness but also a victim of the hate crime that was perpetrated upon Ranveer’s family by racists who confuse Sikhs for Arabs after 9/11.
Ranveer vows to fight back at any cost. Helping him in this endeavour is a Punjabi ex-cop, Fateh Singh (Puneet Issar), who was fired from the US police post-9/11 because he refused to take his turban off. Fateh Singh gives Ranveer Singh the photos of men who had attacked his brothers and asks him to take the legal route to justice. In fact, Fateh directs Ranveer to an attorney, Amelia White (Brooke Johnston), who is fighting his (Fateh’s) own case in the court. When attacks on Sikhs and Muslims increase in their intensity as the attackers become more vicious and better organized, in complicity with a couple of police officers, Ranveer, Fateh and Rizwan start organising their community against the oppression.
In the meantime, Ranveer’s missing brother is found to be in police custody under the false charge of killing his own brother. Ranveer also finds out that Rizwan had been arrested post-9/11 in a case of mistaken identity, something that had led to his mother’s death and a cancellation of his engagement to his fiancé (Tulip Joshi). As the racist attackers try to corner Rizwan and Ranveer, and the court case goes on, is Ranveer able to reclaim his pride and the release of his jailed brother? Is Fateh Singh reinstated in the police force? What about Rizwan? What about the South Asian community as a whole? These questions are answered in the rest of the drama and the climax.
I Am Singh Review: Script Analysis
Puneet Issar, Deepali Issar and Satyajit Puri’s story is ordinary and of the kind that has been seem many times. Moreover, the screenplay, by the same writers, is very poorly written. The first half of the film is spent in unfolding inane scenes, where Ranveer discovers, at a snail’s pace, what has happened to his brothers. It seems as though Ranveer has no idea of what a hate crime is because it takes him so much time to realise what is happening in the US. Scenes where Ranveer interacts with the police officer, his mother, and even the eye-witnesses might have been intended to be dramatic and impactful, but they come across as unimpactful, boring and silly. In fact, Ranveer’s character moves from one end of the spectrum to another. In one scene, he is bashing up skin-heads and, sometime later, in another, he is preaching non-violence. What’s more, the drama, especially in the middle portion of the film, is filled with diatribe against the racists, and earnest-sounding but very boring dialogues about how the Indian/Sikh/Asian community in the US should stand up for their rights.
It is difficult to find one scene in the film which does not seem farcical. The American lady lawyers, who stand up for the Sikhs in court, are dressed so inappropriately that it looks funny. Ranveer’s sudden disappearance in the second half of the film, where he seems to be missing in several crucial (if one may use the term) scenes, is baffling. Instead, Rizwan’s sob story and Fateh Singh’s struggle take up much space in the second half, which, incidentally, is slower and more boring than the first.
Yes, the writers have made sure that their screenplay has ample scope for a few fight scenes, songs and even verbose, information-filled lectures on Sikhism and its tenets, which is all fine. But all this is simply not enough to entertain the lay viewer, who might not necessarily be interested in educating himself while watching a film, especially when the drama seems so fake. Dialogues, again by Puneet Issar, Deepali Issar and Satyajit Puri, are ordinary. The English dialogues, which make up for a good 40 per cent, are even worse – for, it seems that the characters are reading out of an English textbook and not speaking their minds!
On the positive side, a few scenes, where members of the Khalsa Panth are depicted wielding swords and showing off their martial skills, are well-shot and exciting.
I Am Singh Review: Star Performances
The performances are below average. Gulzar Inder Chahal neither has the looks and the body nor the acting prowess to pull off the role of a lone Sikh fighting against injustice. Rizwan Haider looks his character and does an average job at it. Puneet Issar is competent but is let down by the script and the rest of the cast. Tulip Joshi is effective in a bit role. Brooke Johnston (as Amelia White) and Amy Rasimas (as Amy Washington) are nothing but dolls on show. Daler Mehndi and Mika Singh add some glamour in their guest appearances. Sunita Dheer (as Ranveer’s sister-in-law), Neeta Mohindra (as Ranveer’s mother), Donny Kapoor, Akash Karnataki, Aushima Sawhney and others offer poor support. Yusuf Hussain is alright in a blink-and-miss role of Rizwan’s to-be father-in-law.
I Am Singh Review: Direction & Technical Aspects
Puneet Issar’s direction is rather poor. He has not been able to tell the story, as good or bad as it might be, in an effective or entertaining manner. His dramatisation is over the top even in the handling of emotional scenes, something that is a thing of an era gone by. There are seven to nine songs (music by Daler Mehndi, Sumitra Iyer, Monty Sharma, Sudhakar Dutt Sharma, Sukhwinder Singh and Arvinder Singh) in the film, all Punjabi-style. The title track is hardly memorable; the rest of the songs are not upto the mark. Lyrics (by Sandeep Nath, Sameer, Sunil Sirvaiya and Deepali Issar) are just about okay. Song picturisations (by Chinni Prakash, Raju Khan, Rekha Chinni Prakash and Rajeev Surti) are of a good standard. The background score, by Surendra Sodhi, is irritating and very loud. W.B. Rao and Raja Ratnam’s cinematography is good at most places. The film is technically sound. Action, by Kaushal-Moses, is average. Sanjay Verma’s editing is shoddy. Several scenes follow each other for no particular rhyme or reason.
I Am Singh Review: The Last Word
On the whole, I Am Singh is a poor fare that might see some initial footfalls in cinemas of East Punjab circuit. However, its messy script and drama will seal its fate at the box-office. Disaster.