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Director Rohit Shetty’s upcoming film, Singham Again, finds Deepika Padukone donning the Indian Police Force (IDP) uniform as DCP Shakti Shetty. The Bollywood star took to Instagram to reveal her character’s first look, sitting atop a pile of bodies and holding a gun to a criminal’s mouth against a burning city as the backdrop. DCP Shetty is the first female officer in the Cop Universe.
Appreciating Padukone’s versatile portfolio, other celebrities were all praises under the post with actors Alia Bhatt and Janhvi Kapoor reacting with a succession of fire emojis. Co-star and spouse, Ranveer Singh, was also a fan of Lady Singham, commenting, “[She’ll] set fire.”
Shetty posted the image on his Instagram account, calling Padukone “the most brutal and violent officer of our cop universe.” However, not everyone was charmed by the Ram-Leela actor sporting an ominous grin at a violent crime scene.
Netizens pointed out that such ‘fiery’ depictions glamourise police brutality, the dark underbelly of the Indian Police Force. Casting Padukone to play the first Lady Singham falls short in its statement of inclusivity if the cop avatar only widens the ambit of malpractice to include women.
For dedicated fans, it is still easier to play the devil’s advocate to the Singham universe. Shetty’s film embeds itself in a firm tradition of the good-cop-rages-against-the-machine genre that highlights the longstanding problems of corruption and police brutality in India.
If the agenda is exposé, the more amenable critics can keep their fingers crossed that the plot will steer clear of the violent sensationalism of its marketing.
Singham Again is the fifth installment in Shetty’s blockbuster cop franchise. Aside from Padukone, it will star Singh as a supporting character while Ajay Devgn and Kareena Kapoor will reprise their leading roles as Bajirao Singham and Avni Kamat respectively. The film has kicked off its production phase in Hyderabad and is expected to hit the screens in 2024.