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.
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.
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
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
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.
Kangana Ranaut With Sohum Shah In Simran
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?
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'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.