Movie Review: Simran…Or A Heroine Who Bungles In The American Casino Jungles

Despite weak direction and a shallow script, Kangana Ranaut rocks big-time...
three stars

“Ladkon ko patana toh art hai,” she declares joyously, establishing herself as a woman whose guts are in the right place. Asks she, quite cheesily of a hunky dude in a bar, “Are you feeling tired...because you're running in my mind?” And yo, she has a mild reflective moment or two, comparing herself to a butterly who has sprouted tiny wings. How cute is that.

Yet, all these marmalade one-liners aren’t the piece de resistance of Simran, directed by Hansal Mehta and co-written by Apurva Asrani and the leading lady of this Bollywood meets Americawood bank heist film. From whichever angle you look at it, the lady in question, Kangana Ranaut is the WOW factor. You can’t take your eyes off her in the course of this 124-minuter, which she dominates in the don’t-mess-with-me style of a dictator. Heil Ms Ranaut!

Dictator did I say? Right. As a 30-year-old Gujarati ‘ben’ settled in Georgia, who cares a hoot about her still stigma-carrying status of a ‘divorcee’, apri Praful Patel is aaha, brazenly bindaas. Everything she does – from clocking in at work as a hotel’s housekeeper, acquiring a cool apartment from the ‘minority’ quota, and  arguing with her NRI daddyji from the old-fashioned school down to informing her suitor (Sohum) that she likes to steal, Praful is part-nutter, part-wonder-woman. So far, so yahoo. Here’s a Queen who wants to be King. Gender  issues gaya shaak-bhaaji leva from the suppermarket.

kangana ranaut in simran

Kangana Ranaut As Praful Patel In Simran

Now, don’t say you knew it, here comes the rub. The superheroine, a glossy avatar of Bonnie (without Clyde),  isn’t enough to sustain a feature film with her madcap antics, however feisty and fabulous they may be. The rest of the characters are marginalised to the point of serving as puppets on the young woman’s bespoke apron-strings. The cutie-pooh gone awry, with her gambling debts and serial bank robberies, steadily become a pain in the neck to put it politely. Harrrumph.

Clearly, Hansal Mehta’s forte is in plumbing the darker depths of his little big people, advancing reality-culled political and societal commentary (Shahid and Aligarh were stunners). Alas Simran, whose title itself is justifed clumsily at a key juncture, is an exercise in mediocre story-telling. No 0000.5 shades of grey here.

 a still from simran
A Still From Simran

Quite odd that, since it’s no secret that the plot premise has been adapted (mangled?) from the true-life account of Sandeep Kaur, a 20ish Indian-American who dazzled by the Las Vegas lights, casino tables and baccarat went on to become notorious as the Bombshell Bandit. Arrested after a hot car chase, she was sentenced to imprisonment for 66 months. Now, that’s one heck of a story, with the potential of delving into the heart, mind and the basic instincts of a woman from an immigrant family. The recession-hit American Dream, in Ms Kaur’s case, turned into a self-willed nightmare. No laughing matter this.

The Bollywoodisation of this case study, however, is unlayered, excessively sunny,  and facetiously funny at times, the effort totalling up to entertainment-bafflement and particularly towards the denouement, yawntertaiment.

kagana ranaut with sohum shah in simran
Kangana Ranaut With Sohum Shah In Simran

The bank hold-ups are as simple as saying, “Boo” to scare a toddler, and the getaways are quite easily done as adding one and one. So off goes our Praful dearie aka Lipstick Bandit on a lawbreaking spree, intermittently breaking either into hyuk-hyuk chortles or into salty tears. Outcome:  assembly-line scenes such as the lady sipping bubbly, donning wigs, caps and alternating between pret-a-porter outfits and designer ensembles. Glamour is a must-do, no?

The director, like it or not, appears to be awestruck by his star heroine. If Mehta had paused to etch the supporting ensemble with bold strokes (say, in the manner practised by Aanand L Rai in his Tanu Weds Many double whammy or by Vikas Bahl in Queen), the result could have been way more rewarding and involving.

kangana ranaut badass avatar in simran
Kangana Ranaut's Badass Avatar In Simran

Still the art of acting, even if it’s a solo hog-show, can be pure magic. Ergo, there’s no taking away from Kangana Ranaut’s tour de force performance. She has acting coursing through her veins. The Gujarati accent is nicely handled though it slips through the cracks now and then. Her body language and expressive dialogue pitch are A-grade, albeit in a hotchpotch of the genres of comedy-romance-musical interludes-high drama-and kooky crime. Surely less could have been infinitely more.

By the way, my star-rating comes with a statutory warning. The three stars are strictly for the impressive spontaneity and auto-pilot spirit of Ms Ranaut. As for Simran, on the whole, the less carped the better.




Image Source: youtube/t-series

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