She makes robbing banks look like child’s play and is reckless at a casino, but Kangana Ranaut manages to inject a degree of adorability in Praful Patel, the flawed protagonist in her latest film, Simran. But our adoration would have exponentially increased if there was more consistency in Patel’s checkered personality.
Simran is the tale of a 30-year-old Gujarati woman, a divorcee who lives with her conservative parents in the state of Georgia, going rogue.
Patel, who leads a pretty uneventful life as housekeeper in a fancy hotel, turns into an amateur criminal. The transformation is swift and uneven and therefore, unbelievable. One day she’s looking at buying herself an apartment and is hoping that her home loan would come through and the next she’s swatting off bestial loan sharks who snort cocaine and pummel debtors to the ground.
But Ranaut tries to inject a Bridget Jones appeal (Hollywood romcom’s always-relatable Londoner) into her misadventures. The problem is that dating a wrong guy or not able to shed off those extra kilos aren’t as grave a problem as looting a bank to settle debts gathered after a stupid night of gambling.
But credit has to be given to Ranaut for injecting verve into a character whose rebellion seems displaced.
Her antics — even if ridiculous — make you smile because Ranaut is a skilled actor. The scene in which she tries to flirt with an American is pure gold.
Director Hansal Mehta also does a splendid job of painting a realistic milieu of the Indian immigrant diaspora. They aren’t coated with money and aren’t always jolly, as a slew of Bollywood movies have led us to believe. Their middle-class existence and the war between traditionalist parents who are eager to see their divorced child remarry so that they aren’t burdened by a divorcee in their household is beautifully brought out in this film. The clash between Patel and her strict, bullish father is heart-wrenching. But the movie doesn’t, unfortunately, dwell on it. There’s a lot going on in this film — comedy, drama, social commentary and xenophobia in the US- and it can get messy.
The introduction of Soham Shah as the eligible suitor with a strong moral compass complicates it further. But Shah and the supporting actors do their bit in allowing Patel to shine. It’s Ranaut’s show all the way. But the movie suffers from over-crowding of genres. There’s humour, there’s tragedy, there’s violence and there’s drama, but it may not always come together as a whole. The songs that are inserted to highlight Patel’s plight are overdone.
Just like its grey heroine, the film is studded with hits and misses.
Reserve this for a one-time watch as it’s incredible to see Ranaut play a self-destructive rebel. But if you are looking for a cohesive cinematic piece, then you are looking at the wrong film.
Director: Hansal Mehta
Stars: Kangana Ranaut and Soham Shah
Running time: 145 minutes
Stars: 3 out of 5