In Simran, Kangana Ranaut plays her most frustratingly flawed character yet. The actor, who, with her streamlined and sharp focused performances in the past, has made the darker side in her roles a conversant and conniving partner, is Praful Patel, a housekeeping staff in an upmarket hotel in Atlanta, US, low on cash, but high on attitude, squishing in dreams of a dream house into her already overflowing balance sheet.
If you’re thinking Praful is a righteous, eyes-cast-down person, you ought to know that the only time she’ll look down is to aim her boot at you. Which is what makes Kangana’s rendition of Praful a delight – she doesn’t hesitate to have a one-night stand, and in the same said event, take a stand on protection, even if it means delivering a swift one to her insistent partner. Praful’s equally hard-nosed at home, manipulating her parents, and when constantly badgered by her father (Hiten Kumar, oh so good – his frustrations at having begotten the hell-I-care daughter conveyed through sharp jibes, bickering, and an act that makes you want to hand him a Calmpose), she doesn’t hesitate to pick up a chair in defense after receiving a tight one across her face. As is usually the case, the mother (a very effective Kishori Shahane) is the hapless mayo in the father-daughter sandwich.
On a trip to Las Vegas, the 30-something divorced Praf (same lady) discovers the joy of winning two thousand dollars in a game of baccarat. This event switches on a dormant gambling and reckless gene inside the lady, and thence begins her descent into ignoble behavior, and this is where Ranaut shines. This is also where director Hansal Mehta stumbles and gets you frustrated. In his attempt to take a Woody Allenish look at a dysfunctional character, the director gets his style, genres, and approach all knotted up, delivering what becomes a diluted stew of half-cooked ingredients. The movie tangoes between a comic twirl to a bleak and hopeless situation – and not that in itself is a bad thing to do. But then, dark humor isn’t easy to carry off, and in Simran’s case, it’s dragged in and out, the eventually tonal setting uneven and incongruous.
There’s also Sameer (Sohum Shah, so very evenly keeled, almost self-paced in an assured performance), who wants to marry Praful, and who eventually loves her for what she is, and wants to do the right thing, not for her, but for himself. Sameer’s a practical chap, making copies of his grandmother’s necklace, just because you can’t pin down your heart in your wilder days. In Sameer also does Praful finally see a glimmer of hope, even as she staves off a laughable gangster and his sidekick, and it’s eventually down to a battle between her heart and her flaws.
Speaking of flaws, the movie’s also let down by its portrayal of the cops as lunkheaded flatfoots, awestruck and dumbstruck by threatening lipstick notes left behind by Praful at banks and counters. You’d expect half of the gullible population to begin writing ominous notes and strutting into banks across the world, all hail instructional YouTube videos. The music by Sachin-Jigar doesn’t generate any sparks either.
But the spark and fire generator is Kangana Ranaut, who comes through all shining and emotional armor. Her act as the thieving Praful is nothing short of brilliant. The first time she robs a counter and races away in her car, her expression betrays the sheer shock she feels running through her being, stunned by her own audacity. And then, she configures her expression into a magnificent dissolve of triumph and thrill, realizing that she can get away with it.
And in another scene, watch her as she jumps and bounds near a lake, showing Sameer her getaway place. That sunshine skip and run fills you with warmth and joy, and you know that even the most flawed amongst us need our private lakes to reconnect to an innocence that’s all but lost.
Simran is rated (parental Guidance for children below the age of 12 years). There’s an intimate scene, alcohol abuse, and some violence.
Director Hansal Mehta Running Time 2h 4 min
Writers Apurva Asrani, Kangana Ranaut
Stars Kangana Ranaut, Sohum Shah, Hiten Kumar, Kishori Shahane
Genres Crime, Drama, Romance
Watch the trailer of Simran here: