In Hollywood, sequels are fairly common, especially in genres like fantasy, thriller, horror, science fiction and action. Even utterly lame films like "Final Destination" or "Lake Placid" have had follow-ups with B-grade actors and poor graphics.
In India, however, sequels are still at a fledgling stage and Kollywood is no exception. Horror comedies like "Aranmanai" and "Muni" have had successful sequels but not many filmmakers have ventured into the territory outside of this genre. "Enthiran 2" and "Vishwaroopam 2", starring Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan respectively, are in the offing and it remains to be seen how successful these will be.
And of course, there's "S3", the third in the hugely successful "Singam" series. While the first film in the series was without a doubt a paisa vasool entertainer, the second came as a surprise. Not only did director Hari shift gears, moving from Tamil Nadu to international crime, he managed to make an original action thriller while retaining the same star cast. What is it about the "Singam" series that turned the two films into blockbusters?
Both films had intelligent plots with adequate twists and turns. Though Suriya had already played a cop in "Kaakha Kaakha", one of the most memorable films in his career, "Singam" still looked new.
The sequel made a few references to the first film but did not fall back on it to power it through. These days, stars make constant references to their earlier films, not sequels but completely different films, to the point of annoyance in a bid to please fans. "Singam 2" avoided going down that path.
By changing the nature of the conflict, the plot grew bigger in scope in "Singam 2" and this was necessary for the sequel to work.
As Durai Singam, a sub inspector from a village, Suriya was delightfully different from Anbuchelvan. His body language, manner of speaking, demeanour - none of it brought a sense of deja vu.
In the sequel, you can see Durai Singam's growth. From the rustic cop in a small station, he has risen in the ranks and become an undercover officer. There's more sophistication in his ways now. Suriya's performance reflects this growth in his character.
Anushka Shetty, who appeared as Singam's girlfriend in the first film, was surprisingly repeated in the second one. Usually, the loved one of a cop is killed off to make way for a "fresh" face to romance the hero.
But even though "Singam 2" had another female lead, Anushka continued to play Suriya's love interest. And they didn't kill her at the end of the film either! This move meant that the couple, which had good chemistry in the first film, could build on it and provide some relief in the middle of all the violence.
Hansika Motwani's character was introduced in the sequel as a second heroine. But though she lusts after Singam and dies in the time honoured way that second heroines go in Tamil films, she was not a mere caricature in the film. She existed for a reason and Singam's way of dealing with her without it turning into slut-shaming was refreshing.
"S3" has Shruti Haasan in the cast - hopefully, Hari would have dealt with her role sensibly too.
"Singam" had Vivek while "Singam 2" had Santhanam as well as the former. The comedy was mostly integrated into the story and did not stick out as ha-ha tracks even though there were two established comedians in the sequel. Some of the earlier jokes were repeated but they were still funny.
Tamil cinema gives a pretty raw deal to villains generally. They do little in the film other than eating massive quantities of biryani and shouting "Podu da avana!" Both the "Singam" films had interesting villains who were not complete idiots.
The second one, even though it had a foreign actor, Danny Sapani, worked. Typically, foreign actors in Tamil films look clueless and amateurish (remember "Lingaa"?) and the film becomes unintentionally funny whenever they open their mouths and speak Tamil with a weird accent. The "Singam" films went from the "local" Prakash Raj to the international drug trade without compromising on performance.
"Singam 2", like the first "Singam", had enough songs, dances, and pulsing action sequences for mass appeal but didn't let these water down the script. Both films were well executed flicks with plenty of desi elements and it's not a surprise that they set the box-office on fire.
The teaser for "S3" is out and Suriya looks great in it. Wearing khaki is totally his thing, as the ladies will attest. The film is expected to release by the end of this year - here's hoping Hari doesn't disappoint!