Much before Simran was released, there was continuing feud over who should get the credit for the story. Whoever wrote it, wrote it for one character – the one played by Kangana. The whole film rides on her and she is in virtually every frame, everyone else relegated to the background. The film does break many stereotypes of Bollywood. In this film at least, a woman can pick up guys, she can be quite earthy with a huge vernacular accent and still win the audience over, she doesn’t need a leading man to help her out of her mess and she can defy social norms without feeling guilty about it.
Praful Patel (Kangana Ranaut) is the quintessential Gujrati girl in America who, though a permanent resident, is far from assimilated in the American society. She still speaks English with a heavy gujrati accent. Unlike popular perception of NRIs as successful and rich people, Simran, or her family for that matter, are anything but. Only daughter of a petty grocery store owner, 30 year old divorcee Praful works in housekeeping in a hotel. She works at a level where her co-workers are also immigrants doing jobs that Americans loathe to do. Her parents keep pestering her to find a match for marriage. In order to get away from it all, she decides to go to a bachelorette party in Vegas, ends up gambling all her savings away, and gets mixed up with the wrong kind of people. Caught in their trap, she needs an amount of money she possibly can’t save. Praful takes to robbing banks to pay back the loan sharks.
The first half is built up pretty well. The treatment is fresh, the character development is detailed. Gone are the days of the seedhi saadhi virgin leading lady. In one of the scenes she laughs at the suggestion of her potential suitor that he is progressive and doesn’t mind her having boyfriends before marriage. She says it’s a talent to attract boyfriends, and not really a character flaw – you don’t get to hear such words in a Hindi film. Once Praful starts robbing banks, the film tends to get repetitive. Apart from making it look so easy, the director is confused on how to handle this part of the film- should it be treated comically or should it be a drama? Treating a serious crime like bank robbery alternatively as comic and dramatic act confuses the viewer. Also, the gangsters are shown as pretty benign who do little harm to the woman.
Kangana Ranaut is on familiar grounds playing Praful – a carefree girl who doesn’t play by the rules. She starts off a little over the top but settles down nicely as the film progresses. Sohum Shah as the potential suitor is miscast. He doesn’t fit the typical MBA candidate in USA. His character is way too groveling to Praful, a girl not up to his match socially. Rest of the cast have little to do. The character playing Kangana’s hurt and angry dad impresses.
Though Hansal Mehta displays his superior direction skills, the writing itself is weak. Based completely in the USA, the film may not appeal to a wider audience. Though the film may not set the cash register ringing like Queen, Simran is still better than most of the films coming out of the Hindi film industry.
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Rating : 3/5
Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Sohum Shah
Director: Hansal Mehta