So, when Simmba bursts onto the screen, in slow-mo, as a deafening background score plays out, to headline a revolution that aims to empower women, you know it’s not going to be an ordinary experience.
“He’s a little cracker who’ll spark a big explosion one day,” a man predicts, as he watches a young Simmba break a bottle to take on the big guys.
That threat hangs in the air, and we wait over three hours for Shetty’s big bang theory to play out.
Alas, it never does.
Instead, he struggles to groom his new-found rogue cop to go Dabangg-ish, and even hands him the same stunning villian - played magnificiently by Sonu Sood. However, his writers Yunus Sajawal and Sajid Samji are unable to recreate the magic that Abhinav Kashyap and Dilip Shukla spun in 2010. And, they are left to rehash Telugu film Tiger, instead.
So, they pack in everything they possibly can to spice up their (Bollywood masala) uprising.
Much like Karan Johar (who also makes a fleeting appearance in a song-and-dance) and Farah Khan, Shetty parades his celeb pals in interesting cameos to pump up the action in Simmba.
He even cuts back on his trademark car stunts and, suddenly, slips into a courtroom drama in a half-hearted bid to win justice for a wronged woman.
Unfortunately, it falls flat.
Shetty's probably aware of his weakness and his inability to create what Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury did in Pink, so he quickly cuts down the legal mess and sets out to display his own form of justice, instead. One that Sridevi, unfortunately, managed to unveil in Mom last year.
His only saving grace is Ranveer, who lights up the screen with his charm and cheekiness. From mastering the twang to teasing his enemies, to twirling his moustache, Ranveer goes all out to bring to life a raucously magnetic Simmba. Yet, he never manages to make it “mind-ish blowing”. There are fleeting moments, one where he dances unabashedly before busting a rave party. But, those moments are rare.
Sara Ali Khan wins two songs, some gorgeous outfits and a foreign trip. And, she even lands a profession, one that involves lots of lunchboxes!
Shetty lacks finesse as a filmmaker to pedal a social crusade. Apart from using it to manipulate the audience, there’s no sincerity in his rebellion that's packed with innumerable slow-mo shots to glorify his men in uniforms - and, there are three of them in here! Yes, with a promise of another adventure unfolding in 2019.
It’s ironical, and highly unforgivable, that a movie that attempts to empower women, doesn’t even give its female characters much to do, barring handing them token lines so their Simmba can play hero.