Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Mark Justice, Soham Shah, Hiten Kumar
Director: Hansal Mehta
Hansal Mehta, the director, has crafted a couple of fine movies – ‘Shahid’ and ‘Aligarh’ – based on real-life characters. His new outing ‘Simran’ is no different. It borrows heavily from the life of Sandeep Kaur, who robbed a string of banks in Los Angeles in 2014 by pretending to be a human bomb and who was eventually arrested. But unlike those 2 films, which were poignantly intense, ‘Simran’ is more cheery in its fabric.
Praful Patel (Kangana Ranaut) is a 30-year-old Gujarati immigrant living with her parents in Atlanta, US. A divorcee, she is daringly perky and quirky, and works in the housekeeping department of a plush hotel. After getting into gambling, she loses all the money she has saved to buy a house and incurs heavy debts in addition. Perturbed by the threats from a menacing debtor and the unrelenting bickering of her parents, she decides to rob banks to pay back what she owes. In the process, she cops many a misadventure.
Despite the palpable ‘Queen’ hangover, the first half is largely enjoyable. It rattles along on the back of an array of rollicking sequences. Kangana’s nattering with a bartender in Las Vegas and verbal jousts with her parents are the highlights. One cannot help succumb to her effervescence and spunk. She gets some catchy lines that are underpinned with worldly wisdom and, needless to say, does a fine job.
But the movie starts to falter in the second half despite the protagonist’s towering presence. The robbery scenes appear patchy and rushed. It seems as if robbing bank after bank is like stealing candy from a baby. The love angle works fine to an extent, but doesn’t add much to the proceedings. The only notable scene between Sameer (Sohum Shah) and Praful is the one where the female protagonist impishly proclaims that “ladke pataana character flaw thodi na hai, who to art hai” (Wooing boys is an art, not a character flaw).
Despite the obvious weaknesses in the plot, Kangana bestrides the movie like a colossus. Present in almost every frame, she pulls off a complex role with adroitness. Her comic timing, in particular, shines through as she almost single-handedly brings the movie to the brink of being watchable. Sohum Shah gets little scope. Hiten Kumar pitches in a fine performance. Hansal Mehta’s direction is able in light-hearted scenes, but surprisingly comes apart during the intense and dramatic sequences. The music by Sachin-Jigar is subpar. Only ‘Pinjra Tod Ke’ is hummable. Anuj Rakesh Dhawan’s cinematography passes muster. Editing is sharp.
Overall, ‘Simran’ is sunny but lacks the emotional heft and gravitas that would have placed it in a higher league.
PS: So, if the name of the protagonist is Praful, why the movie is titled ‘Simran’? Enough reason to watch it and find out? Well, perhaps…..