Mumbai is the target of a terrorist attack (when isn’t it?). An exemplar of the Mumbai Police swaggers in to save the day (when doesn’t he)? Cars pirouette through the air before crashing ungainly onto surfaces and other cars (when don’t they?) In short, nothing has changed in Rohit Shetty’s realm.

Pandemics may come and go and some citizens and filmmakers might be rethinking their blind worship of the police. But the rules of the Shettyverse that began with Singham in 2011 and continued through Singham 2 and Simmba remain unchanged, as cast in stone as the Mumbai police oath to protect truth above everything else.

Akshay Kumar plays Veer Sooryavanshi, a daredevil cop who forgets names easily but always remembers to lecture Muslims on secularism, patriotism and the perils of supporting fundamentalists. There are plenty of opportunities for this son of the Sun to hold forth.

A Lashkar-e-Toiba sleeper cell has been lurking in our midst for over a decade, waiting to make use of a massive stash of RDX that has been stashed away after the (actual) serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993. These terrorists are everywhere, posing as watchmen and caddies under Hindu names, the movie cautions us. Guided by Bilal (Jackie Shroff) from somewhere across the Indian border, a team that includes Bilal’s sons (including characters played by Kumud Mishra and Abhimanyu Singh) gets to work.

Alongside balancing a long-distance marriage necessitated by his commitment to his job, Sooryavanshi and his posse hunker down too. Sooryavanshi gets closer to his targets but needs the help of Ajay Devgn’s Singham and Ranveer Singh’s Simmba to wrap it up.

Aila Re Aillaa (2021).

Did Shetty intend to make a third Singham film or a Simmba sequel? The presence of Devgn and Singh, far better at playing the over-the-top supercop, in a movie that is meant to emphasise Akshay Kumar’s continued machoness, is a sign that the director is taking no chances. A minor army of actors queues up to pad Akshay Kumar’s tired attempts at comedy and valour, including Javed Jaaferi, Nikitin Dheer, Vivan Bhathena and Gulshan Grover.

The gist of the 145-minute movie is contained in the extended climactic action sequence. It comes after much hectoring by Sooryavanshi and Shetty’s earnest history lesson on the link between riots and terrorism. Ranveer Singh goofs about, Ajay Devgn single-handedly overpowers three terrorists, and Akshay Kumar practises his martial arts moves. Katrina Kaif, as Sooryavanshi’s long-suffering wife Ria, hangs around in the background to remind us that she too is a part of the cast.

Sooryavanshi (2021).