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Cheta Singh review: Prince Kanwaljit Singh is the saving grace of this bloody tale of revenge

It is a story that we have seen often enough. A man let down by the system decides to take matters into his own hands and embarks on a gruesome, bloody journey of revenge and righteous action. The latest Punjabi-language feature, Cheta Singh (2023), starring Prince Kanwaljit Singh, Japji Khaira, Mintu Kapa, follows this oft-repeated storyline.

Directed by Ashish Kumar, the film tells the story of Paala (Prince Kanwaljit Singh), a simple, honest family man who runs a bookstore. Generous and loving, he minds his own business and loves his sister Nimmi immensely. She is a sportsperson who aspires to become a police officer one day. Paala is in love with Preet (Irwin Meet Kaur), a school teacher, and they plan to settle down one day. Meanwhile, the Sarpanch (Mahabir Bhullar) of the village hatches a plot with some goons to make tons of money.

Nimmi stumbles upon something untoward taking place in her school, and the Sarpanch takes remedial action by nipping the matter in the bud. In an instant, Paala’s world comes crashing down. Although he is left for dead, he is resurrected in a manner of speaking, as Cheta Singh, a man who lives on the margins of society and decides to take revenge for all that happened with his family. When the new police inspector Kirandeep (Japji Khaira) comes to the village, an investigation begins, and things start to change.

There are a few elements that work and many that don’t in the overall uneven film. With a long-drawn premise that tries to fit in too many angles, the first half of the film drags its feet in creating the milieu for the unfolding of the drama. It is the second half of the film that gathers momentum with the transformation of Paala into Cheta. Although Cheta Singh does not offer an original storyline, its originality lies in creating a protagonist who transforms from a kind, god-fearing man to a psychopath. The possibilities of such a character were enormous, but the film fails to explore its full potential, relying instead on gruesome visuals of blood and gore. Some scenes of needless gratuitous violence seem to be included just for the heck of it.

Prince Kanwaljit Singh, who has also written the screenplay and dialogues of the film, shines in the portrayal of a twisted, deranged man out to exact revenge. With a crazy look in his eyes and impassive dialogue delivery, he uses children’s rhymes to create a chilling effect. But the transformation of the character is sudden and extreme, bordering at times on the absurd. There is a scene where Singh ostensibly shows concern for his victim, saying, “You must be feeling cold. I’ll make you a cup of tea,” and proceeds to dump tea leaves, water and sugar in the victim’s mouth, lighting a fire right under him.

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Locating the film in an animal graveyard with carcasses strewn over, creates the perfect setting for the unfolding of the action. The production design and cinematography capture the eeriness and horror of the setting skillfully. However, the exaggerated action choreography and overpowering background score get tiresome. The performances by Irwin Meet Kaur, Mintu Kapa and Gurjant Singh Marhar are mostly adequate, while Japji Khaira is passable and plays her one-note role with sternness.

Cheta Singh would perhaps appeal to action fans and those who would enjoy watching Prince Kanwaljit Singh play a captivating character with his usual flair.

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Cheta Singh movie cast: Prince Kanwaljit Singh, Japji Khaira, Baljinder Kaur, Mintu Kapa, Irwin Meet Kaur, Mahabir BhullarCheta Singh movie director: Ashish KumarCheta Singh movie rating: 2 stars

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