Movie Reviews

Simran Movie Review: Kangana & Hansal Mehta Weave A Wacky Entertainer In Simran!

Poster for the movie "Simran"

Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Sohum Shah

Directed by: Hansal Mehta

Rating: *** ½(3 and a half stars)

Imagine if your child  turns out to be a sociopath. This, in one  line,summarizes the  whimsical plot of Hansal Mehta’s  film.

Simran or Praful Patel, is  no  ordinary celluloid creation.  She gambles all her  savings  away in Las Vegas and spends the rest of her time back home in Atlanta robbing banks to pay back her dangerous  creditors(played by a mock-mafia of  amateurish American actors).

It’s hard to  imagine anyone but Kangana  playing a Gujarati bandit queen, shooting her way through a  series of hilariously-staged heists where Praful alias Simran gets to try out several wigs that wouldn’t fool a 5-year old, let alone the American law enforcers who take  awfully long to cotton on to Praful’s get-rich-quick scheme.

As written by Apurva Asrani , the script is  a craggy mine-field  of  mind games , the script’s surly skyline is  filled with explosive devices threatening to detonate . Fearlessly Kangana walks that extra mile to play Praful/Simran as a muddled, utterly despicable  daughter and selfish prospective  bride. She  is so conceited in her belief  in her own right to survival at  any cost that we wonder what her suitorSameer (played with likeable ethnicity by Sohum Shah)sees  in  her.

In  one tender sequence done by a serene lakeside Sameer  expresses envy at how complete Praful is as  a human being.The irony is completely lost on Sameer. Because Praful is anything but complete.  A damaged derailed disjointed piece of bad news , Praful Patel must be the most disconnected heroine we’ve had in  a Hindi movie.

She steals, she lies, she cheats and she makes her parents so helpless and embarrassed , you just want to slap this churlish delusional girl on the face for being such a  nuisance.

Hansal Mehta doesn’t try to build case  for his heroine’s sociopathicbehaviour. What he does is , put Praful/Simran in situations that make her look progressively compromised and cornered. The narrative has an impressive buildup from  a normal bickering Gujju family to all of  Atlanta’s police force  looking for the ‘lipstick bandit’. You see,Prafulwrites warning notes with lipstick before robbing banks.

Giggle.

One  doesn’t know how much of all this  is actually true. The writing is deliberately ambivalent. The narrative takes us just deep enough  in the dare-you-to-believe zone to  suspend our disbelief. But a  bedrock of sincerity and  conviction runs through the film.In the way Prafulinteracts with  her father(effectively  played by Hiten  Kumar) and with her  unconditionally devoted and sincere suitor, shows  Kangana’s character in  an utterly flattering light.

Kangana plays the part with  a ferocious sense of ownership. There is  not  moment of  Praful Patel’s  selfdestructive hedonism that the character doesn’t participate in. Kangana  never stands aside. She dives deep into Praful, not afraid of encountering ugly home truths  to the unbecoming   personality.

That this morally reprehensible divorced child-woman(divorced not only from her marriage but also from a socially acceptable reality  because what Praful wants, Praful  must get) is shot amidst some of America’s most beautiful suburbs, is a bonus. Anuj Rakesh Dhawan’s  camera  lenses lavish much affection on the protagonist’s idiotic crime plans. Kangana looks so much at home in her character we feel she must have been Praful Patel in an earlier life. This  of course is an illusion. No human being so flawed and fractured can ever be  a role model, even to an actress as giving as Ranaut.

But that’s the magic of a film which dares  to deal with  the ugliness of its protagonist  without flinching and with much warmth and compassion. Hansal Mehta never sentimentalizes  Simran’s  anti-social behaviour.  He  lets the Gujju girl grapple with her demons . Just how disturbed  this girl is, comes through in the shocking way she attacks a man twice her age whom  she suspects  of stealing her money.

She will fight back when cornered, or when she feels cornered.

More than anything else, this girl needs a shrink. I am talking aboutPraful Patel. Not Kangana Ranaut.

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