'Ok guys, enough'. This is what you wish to scream out loud by the time intermission flashes for 'I Am Singh' which is yet another take on racial discrimination. Okay, so the makers (in this case Puneet Issar) may argue that just like boy-meets-girl theme continues to find it's way into cinema all over the world, even the subject of racial abuse could be told repeatedly provided the setting and characterisation are different. Well, there is a difference though and that lies between a happy theme versus a sad theme. One could go through the latter as well but provided the narrative is engaging enough and there is a fair bit of entertainment sprinkled as well. Unfortunately though 'I Am Singh' misses on both counts due to which it turns out to be a film that would hardly be registered as a milestone movie on the subject.
The film's lead is played by Gulzar Inder Chahal (seen earlier this year in Punjabi film 'Yaara O Dildaara') who arrives in U.S. to address a family tragedy. With racial discrimination eating up most of his family members, he gets support from an ex-cop (Puneet Issar), a friend (Rizwan Haider) and a human rights activist (Brooke Johnston), who is pretty much in the same mould as Katrina Kaif was in 'New York'. Of course they win their mini battle as well but not before the film has gone through it's own rounds of screaming, preaching, patronising and sermonising.
These are the very factors which actually pull the film down as everyone on the frame seems to be inclined towards promoting Sikh religion and advocating global brotherhood. Nothing wrong with that but when it all seems like a documentary with no real entertainment coming in, as an audience you tend to get bogged down.
Even from the treatment perspective the film reminds of one of the first films on racial abuse that had been made years ago. It was Sohail Khan's lesser known film 'I - Proud To Be An India' and even the villains there (powerfully built bald head men) have been pretty much replicated in 'I Am Singh'. In fact most recently even in 'Patiala House' there was a brief segment at the very beginning of the film that described how racial abuse had impacted Sikhs in the U.K. This time around the setting is U.S. and an entire film has been made on that single episode.
In fact one tends to remember 'New York' here which was a far superior product and while there was a message being conveyed, entertainment was on the top of the mind of the makers there. Even in case 'I Am Singh', Puneet Issar (who has earlier directed Salman Khan starrer 'Garv') does try to bring in commercial ingredients by injecting songs here and there. They do reasonably well as per the film's situations but since none of them have really become popular by now, the impact isn't as strong.
Though there isn't much to cheer about the film from performances perspective, one still doesn't mind Puneet's presence on the screen since it is still a much better deal when compared to others who merely seem to be hanging around. Whenever Issar gets into the Sunny Deol-isque mode, one pretty much expects a 'dhali kilo ka haath' to be punched on someone's face. On the other hand Gulzar lacks the screen presence of a leading man while others aren't any better.
Till the release of the film one wasn't even sure whether it was a Punjabi or a Hindi movie. As it turns out, it in fact has liberal doses of English. Nothing wrong again but wish the language here could have accentuated the overall spirit of the film. In case of 'I Am Singh' it doesn't quite happen and though there are a few moments (especially the ones in the opening reels of the film), the impact fizzles away sooner than one could have said 'wow'.