Good : Kangana's extraordinary performance ( the movie is completely on her shoulders and could be flat without her presence ) , Fine performance by the cast , Decent direction , good story
Weakness : overall screenplay is a let down , second half is disappointing
Simran, a film by Hansal Mehta, is inspired from the real-life sensational story of Indian-American Sandeep Kaur. She is known as “Bombshell Bandit” and “Gambling Queen” and currently serving a 66-month jail sentence in the United States of America for robbing banks. The film Simran is based on Sandeep’s life, about an ordinary girl pulling off heist like bank robberies in an absolutely unassuming manner and that too without any weapon. Sandeep used to wear wigs, fitting tracksuits and oversized sunglasses while she used to threaten bank tellers regarding her carrying a bomb, and demanding cash in return for not detonating it. Indeed an interesting premise and certainly Kangana is a great choice for the film. The film picks up very nicely in the beginning, Kangana’s quirky, eccentric, carefree, comic timing makes it an interesting watch, but somewhere the film loses its sheen especially post intermission. The focus was completely on the central character of Kangana and in this process, rest of the characters were ignored or not justified. And this does not turn out in the favour of the film, some shallowness has creeped into the film. Most of the critics are appreciating Kangana’s acting brilliance and blaming poor screenplay. But the fact is that the original screenplay was altered to the extent that the film turned out to be a bit different piece than what was conceptualized (https://www.thequint.com/entertainment/simran-kangana-ranaut-changes-to-script). Kangana is good and she has the potential to carry a film solely on her shoulders, but her presence in every frame and not so powerful character sketching of supporting cast makes a few links missing.
Director Hansal Mehta and National Award winning editor Apurva Asrani have collaborated on many successful projects in the past viz. Shahid, Citylights and very much critically acclaimed Aligarh. Apurva turned into full-fledged screenwriter with Aligarh. So, when the duo of Hansal-Apurva collaborated with Kangana Ranaut for Simran, the film was bound to do wonders and it was one of the most awaited films since the time it went to floors in 2016. But offlate, the film was in news headlines due to controversies. Kangana’s explosive interviews regarding her affairs and breakups hogged the headlines. Prior to this, conflict between Apurva and Kangana erupted over the writing credits of Simran. Apurva had penned the story, screenplay and the dialogues for Simran and he had no qualms in accepting the fact that Kangana did give her valuable inputs as far as some scenes or dialogues were concerned. But Kangana was credited for the ‘Additional Dialogues and Story’ which appeared before Apurva’s name on the poster. This had to be corrected later when Apurva assertively responded. Apurva is an immensely talented writer who has given so much depth to the characters of Citylights, Shahid, Aligarh etc. In Simran, only Kangana is given importance, whereas rest of the characters are not sketched properly, and this definitely is not Apurva’s style of writing. So, a food for thought, how much an actor should intrude into the creative space of the writer? A writer is also an artist who visualizes the story coming alive on screen, the director executes and the actor makes it happen on screen. Every member of the cast and crew has their own strengths and better the collaboration-better the film. After watching the film, I just wished that the trio Hansal-Apurva-Kangana’s synergy remained intact atleast till the film was complete and ready for release.
Praful Patel (Kangana) is working in the housekeeping department of a hotel since seven years. She belongs to a Gujarati family settled in Atlanta. Praful has accumulated money to buy her own house and she manages to locate a property at a very reasonable price under Minority Reservation quota. She has a love-hate relationship with her father Mohan (Hiten Kumar). He keeps blaming her for many aspects of her life: her divorced status, her not complying with the norms of the society, her not contributing to household expenses etc. Her mother Kumud (Kishori Shahane) does come forward to her rescue and keeps pacifying Mohan as well as Praful. Praful’s life takes a risky turn when her cousin Ambar (Aneesha Joshi) invites and takes her to Las Vegas for her bachelorette party. Praful gets surprised when she finds that Ambar was there to spend time with her ex boy-friend before saying final good bye. Praful gives both of them space and heads to walk in the streets of Vegas so as to ‘do sin in the sinful city’. She reaches Casino and comes to know regarding gambling. She tries her hand at Baccarat (a card game played at the casions). Initially she wins and that gives her confidence to pamper herself at beauty saloon and buys beautiful dress, lipstick etc. with the won money. Later, she ends up losing her money. She empties her savings and puts the money in the gambling, borrows money and loses that as well. Although Praful comes back home, she is haunted by the lenders. Meanwhile Sameer’s (Sohum Shah) proposal comes for her. Praful reluctantly meets him, but she is not interested to fall in love with this nice guy.
How Praful handles the lenders? How does she commit robberies? How does she manage to escape form the eyes of the police department? Does Praful’s relationship with Sameer progress further? Why the title of the film Simran whereas the protagonist is Praful Patel? Does Praful mend her ways? What about her turbulent relationship with her father? What about her job at the hotel? Is she able to get over her addiction towards gambling and robbery? Watch the film to find out.
The tone of the film is kept light and comical. The humour is very good at certain places viz. Praful’s befriending the bartender, flirting with the ‘hot’ guy, bargaining for a cap at Vegas street etc. Robbery scenes could have been improvised. The robbery scenes seemed too comfortable as well as repetitive although the intention was to take advantage of the fear in the minds of people toward terrorism. It seemed so convenient for Praful’s character to dodge the bank staffs and the police department.
Two songs ‘Meet’ and ‘Baras ja’ are very good.
As far as the cast is concerned, Kangana is a brilliant and powerful actress and she displays her terrific side in Simran too. Hiten Kumar and Kishori Shahane do their parts very well. Sohum Shah as Sameer could have displayed more passion. Rest of the characters’ presence on screen and their contribution / links to the story is very less.
Simran has indeed an interesting premise and Kangana’s quirky, eccentric, carefree, comic timing makes it an interesting watch in the beginning, but somewhere the film loses its sheen especially post intermission. Her presence in every frame and not so powerful character sketching of supporting cast makes a few links missing. After watching the film, I just wished that the trio Hansal-Apurva-Kangana’s synergy remained intact atleast till the film was complete and ready for release.
This weekend could be termed as the week of "Girl Power" as we had Sindhu making the nation proud with her exploits at the Korean Super Series. Even in Bollywood, we have a women centric movie with Kangana Ranaut, the reigning queen in the lead. There were numerous controversies leading to the release of the movie with regard to her statements on her male counterparts & nepotism. Whatever might be the case, the trailer of "Simran" seems to convey that it is going to be yet another gem from Kangana. With Hansal Mehta calling the shots, the quality of the movie wont be in question. But will it be able to satiate the audience???
Praful Patel (Kangana Ranaut) is a divorced, independent Gujarati female who worked in the hospitality industry in Atlanta. As her parents constantly nagged her to get hitched, she has been on the lookout for a suitable apartment where she could move into. After years of hard work, she finally managed to hoard sufficient savings along with a loan from the bank that would enable her to get a place of her choice. But before she could seal the deal, she goes on to Sin City with her cousin. Just like it has happened to many, she loiters into the casino & gets hooked onto the dealer's table once she starts winning. Hoping to cash in on more money, she gambles the next day as well & that's when reality hits her hard as she looses whatever she had including the deposit to her apartment. Her desperation to win it back makes her borrow money from a loan shark. Little did she realise that she was in an absolute quagmire which would change her life forever.
Hansal Mehta's credentials as a director is well established with movies like "Aligarh", "Shahid", "City Lights" etc to his credit. His latest venture is loosely based on Sandeep Kaur aka "Bombshell Bandit", a Punjabi Sikh nurse who is presently serving jail time in the US for robbing several banks. The story by Apurva Asrani as such is interesting especially the complex character of Kangana that is intriguing, childish & crazy all rolled into one. But his screenplay falters in the second half, as the robbery, police investigation & climax seemed rather silly & preposterous. All the technical aspects has been handled adequately be it Anuj Rakesh's cinematography, Antara Lahiri's editing & Sachin Jigar's music.
Coming to performances, it was a one woman show with Kangana being absolutely brilliant. Her goofiness in Vegas reminded me of Mr. Bean which was spot on. Equally impressive was her ability to convey her vulnerability & establishes her position as one of the finest actresses in the industry. Since the story basically revolved around her, none of the other characters barely got much screen space but even then Sohum Shah as Sameer deserves praise along with characters like Praful's parents & the bar attender in Vegas.
Verdict: Well it's not a type of movie that will be lapped up by the masses but it will have the urban audience interested. There is no doubt that the film has flaws in the screenplay just like the protagonist. But if you ask me, Kangana's performance definitely makes it worth watching. In short, do check it out!!!!