Director: Hansal Mehta
Starcast: Kangana Ranaut, Catherine Dyer, Mark Anthony Justice, Robin Dyke, Evette Young
Rating: 3 stars
Simran is a character driven film where Prafful Patel (Kangana Ranaut) is a very well-written character, whose traits become the root cause of her problems. She is cautious. She wants to save money for her house, yet is impulsive enough to take up a free trip to Vegas that she initially turns down. She is extremely objective. She might find a guy cute but won't hesitate to tell him that he is indecent. She even calls out her parents' strained marriage. She is extremely self aware as well and admits that she makes mistakes in life. She knows she is addicted to gambling and robbery, two of her major 'character flaws.'
You instantly feel drawn towards her honesty. You are so invested in her story that you almost hear yourself go, 'nahi yaar' every time she takes an impulsive decision.
There are some beautifully written scenes in the first half that take us into her world. A cute friendship with the bartender, the idea of independence and courage shared with a cousin or a pizza party with parents, that starts happily but ends in an ugly fight giving us insights into their lives and frustrations.
And then begins the second half! Oh my god, the painful second half! Implausible plot points, unconvincing repetitive sequences, forced songs and slow pacing took my focus from Prafful to the popcorn. Without giving away much, let's just say, the second half elicited a series of reactions that began with 'ha, not possible' to 'hey, come on too silly, to 'kuch bhi dot com' to 'chal bhai let's go get some nachos'! At least something would be crunchy!
Simran however offers some brilliant performances. Hiten Kumar who plays Prafful's father embraces his character's frustrations and fears so beautifully that he generates enough interest in an otherwise annoying dad's role, making him look human and real. Sohum Shah is earnest as Prafful's suitor despite landing some weird shudh Hindi lines. I mean, who asks for an 'anumati' these days? Just because he is a 'nice guy' it doesn't mean that you make a 'Shabdkosh' out of a human being!
Kangana shows yet again what a powerful actor she is. She even gets the slightest, most inconsequential emotion right. For instance, in a scene at the bank, where she is seeking a loan approval, her restless body language and her big concerned eyes bring out her anticipation aptly. She manages contradictory emotions well too. Watch out for her in a scene where she sits in her car, all shaken up by her crisis, yet faking a smile as she calls her friend up for help. It's her acting genius that can make a simple, stupid 'good girl bad girl' joke sound so funny. She also lends interesting quirks to Praffful like biting lips, that remain consistent all through the movie.
What I loved the most about Simran was its idea of women unapologetically wanting to have fun. Here's a girl who dates multiple men and normalises the fact that women too love having sex, without ever tagging her as fast or loose or showing it as a sign of empowerment or progression.
There was so much to like in Simran, yet it left me disappointed. It felt like my favorite Diwali cracker that flickered for a good 20 seconds promising a big blast, before suddenly going all phuss.