Movie Review: Simran – Outstanding Performance, Weak Script!

If I say Kangana Ranaut is one of the most talented actors in India is an understatement. Kangana is the only actor in India who I think can hold up interest in a weak scripted movie with her performance alone, eg: Simran, this week’s release. A lot of hype was created around the movie about how Kangana was taking away the credits for the script from the writer of the movie Apurva Asrani. Kangana also claimed she improvised on the script and wrote numerous drafts over Apurva’s original draft and the movie is the result of those improvisations. However, if that is true, then Kangana should leave the writing part to the writers and stick to her part which is acting (she does that better than anything else).

Coming to the movie, Simran tells the story of a 30-year-old divorcee Praful Patel (Kangana) who works as a housekeeper in a luxury hotel in Atlanta. Praful stays with her parents and dreams of owning her own house. Things go out of hand when she loses all her money in a casino in Las Vegas and to win back her money she takes a loan from a loan shark. Meanwhile, her loan application gets rejected due to bad credit history. With the loan shark breathing down her neck, she has no choice but to start looting banks to pay back the loan amount.

The story is inspired by a true life incident however, the screenplay is a big let down. The first half is quite entertaining but the curse of second half puts its hands on this movie too. The second half is quite boring, unimaginative and blows the logic of our brains. The way Praful goes looting the bank and the way American cops seems to tackle the issue is quite childish and amateurish. Baring few really bad dialogues (eg: “Tumhe saans lete dekhna hi ek kamyabi hai” mouthed by Sohum Shah in a park while talking to Kangana), it is quite funny and real lifelike.

Coming to performances, the movie revolves around Kangana and therefore she is in the limelight. She blows your mind with her performance. The way she laughs, cries, emotes only through expressions is something only Kangana can do and it is quite believable. The way Kangana tries to flirt with a guy in a bar is quite hilarious. Also, the way she cries after losing her money in the casino reminds you of her drunken breakdown scene from Queen. There is a scene in the movie where Kangana does not have a dialogue, she just has to lift a champagne glass and toast it with the cityscape of Las Vegas, one can see and feel how she is celebrating the emptiness of her life. The scene where she lifts a stool to hit her father after he slaps her is again a wonderful scene. If Queen was one of her best, then Simran tops it. She is worthy of every award and rewards in the coming season. The director and writer have not given ample space for any supporting characters in the movie and therefore they do not leave a lasting impression.

Music by Sachin-Jigar is average but my favorite is ‘Meet’ and ‘Single Rehne De’. I think the filmmakers did a huge mistake by replacing the editor (Apurva Asrani) with Antara Lahiri as the second half editing is quite drab. The cinematography is good and so is the BGM.

Hansal Mehta is a wonderful director but in Simran’s world is a different ball game for him compared to his regular genre of dark and gritty ones, and it shows. There are a lot of scenes in the movie especially in the second half which could have been directed well especially the bank looting scenes and the car chase scenes. However, you cannot deny the fact that if Kangana does a great job with her acting then Hansal has to be praised for getting it out from her.

On the whole, I felt the screenplay lets the movie down but Kangana’s performance takes the movie to a different level.

My Verdict: ***/5 

9 Best Movies of 2016

2016 was one of those years in the Bollywood history where not many movies were Box Office successes, however, there were some really brave movie attempts made by unexpected quarters. Here is my pick of top 9 movies I felt were different and entertaining. Please do not go by the BO numbers.

Dangal: Like the saying save the last dance. Aamir did save his best performance and movie for the last week of 2016. Based on the true life characters of Mahaveer Phogat and his daughters Geeta and Babita, this was a great movie experience. Never was a sports based movie made with such passion and splendor. The wrestling fights looked so real that I had myself sitting on the edge whenever Geeta ‘Dhobipachadofied‘ her opponents. The highlight apart from the last fight was the bout between the father-daughter jodi played by Aamir and Fatima.

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Nil Battey Sanatta: This was one masterpiece that I was fortunate to see in 2016. Produced by Aanand L. Rai and directed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari (the wife of Dangal director Nitesh Tiwari), tells the story of a housemaid played brilliantly by Swara Bhaskar and her daughter who is scared of mathematics. The moments in the movie were heartfelt and the narrative was so gripping that made you feel a part of Apu and Chanda’s lives.

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Pink: ‘Whatamovie’ was the first expression I let out after watching this simple but powerful story of a movie. Amitabh Bachchan was a sheer pleasure to watch as the bipolar lawyer and Tapsee Pannu showcased her brilliance with her portrayal of Meenal Arora. ‘No means No’ became the mantra of this tony courtroom drama directed by Aniruddha Roy Choudhary.

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Aligarh: Another biopic that made me cringe in my seat was Manoj Bajpayee starrer Aligarh based on Professor Ramchandra Siras’ life. Professor Siras was who was sacked from his position as a Marathi professor from Aligarh University for his sexual orientation portrayed the sad reality of our homophobic society. Also, the mysterious way in which he was found dead makes us question ‘whether sexual orientation is above humanity?’ Homosexuality is a crime in India and there are hardly any meaningful movies made around this subject. However, Hansel Mehta’s brave attempt on this real life character and Bajpayee’s sensitive performance is quite commendable. I will also give full marks to the writing department and one particular dialogue of Professor Siras from the movie still gives me goosebumps – Koi Mere Feeling Ko Teen Aksharon Mein Kaise Samajh Sakta Hai!

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Kapoor & Sons: There are many stories revolving around a dysfunctional family, however, Shakun Batra’s second movie outing was a beautiful piece of cinema. Grand Father who is preparing for his death and wants to have the last family picture clicked, Father – a cheating husband, Mother – lost in her own world, Elder son – a closeted gay, Younger Son – still trying to figure out his true calling in life etc. are characters inspired by true life. It was shocking to see King of Candyfloss – Karan Johar producing a true to life story. The movie was quite relatable and the performances were wonderful. Give me a choice and I would love to see this movie anytime, anywhere.

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Dear Zindagi: A slice of life movie that centers around a budding cinematographer Kaira played by Alia Bhatt, who hails from a dysfunctional family and after several failed relationships, is in search of a perfect life. She bumps into Dr. Jehangir, an unconventional thinker who helps Kaira in gaining a new perspective about life. Gauri Shinde after her endearing debut movie English Vinglish gave a near perfect movie – Dear Zindagi, and also gave Shah Rukh Khan a much-needed image makeover (it’s been nearly a decade that I liked any of SRK’s movies past Chak De India!).

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Neerja: Directed by Ram Madhvani, Neerja was another commendable biopic on Neerja Bhanot, AC, who was a purser for the airline Pan American World Airways, based in Mumbai, India. Neerja was shot and killed while saving 359 of 379 passengers on board Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists on 5 September 1986 at Karachi. Sonam Kapoor gave her career best performance and also won the hearts of cine goers. A wonderful movie that every India should watch.

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Airlift: The film directed by Raja Krishna Menon follows Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), a Kuwait-based businessman, as he carries out the evacuation of Indians based in Kuwait during the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The movie was inspired by the real-life character of Mathunny Mathews who was instrumental in carrying out the biggest Air evacuation in World History. Air India holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner as a result of this effort. The operation was carried out during the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait and Iraq. It is believed to be the largest civilian evacuation in history. The way the movie was shot and narrated is praiseworthy. Akshay Kumar, as usual, gave a great performance ably supported by Nimrat Kaur and Prakash Belawadi.

Airlift

Sultan: My list would not be complete without a Salman Khan starrer and this year he did make me proud as a fan. Sultan a love story of a wrestler had Salman living the character to the T. It was not a typical Bhai movie but a warm and heartfelt movie of a wrestler who gets into the game only to impress his lady love and in turn goes to win medals for the country. Pride and ego bring his downfall and soon his entire life is shattered. What happens next is the journey of Sultan who rises from the ashes like a Pheonix. Salman after Bajrangi Bhaijaan was a sheer pleasure to watch. His transformation as a wrestler in the movie was commendable and Bhaijaan did act well in this movie.

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It was difficult to pick 9 movies from the 100+ movies released in 2016. If you have your own favorites please do comment below.