The film does catch the mood of the time and demands the audiences’ approval for the Singham-Simmba mode of instance justice. For this reason, and for Ranveer Singh’s hyperactive performance, Simmba will be a hit, writes Deepa Gahlot
Read this review in Hindi: Link
Rohit Shetty is a master of excess, and he has found a soul brother in the irrepressible Ranveer Singh. In Simmba, this boisterous character does not simply enter the frame, he comes in dancing with thousands of extras in colour-coordinated costumes.
Sangram Bhalerao aka Simmba, is clear that he has joined the police force to make money, not to be a “Robin Hood helping people.” The irony that Robin Hood was an outlaw not a cop is lost on the character whose catchphrase is “mind ij blown.” That, and “tell me something I don’t know” when he is called a “kameena”.
The cop from the land of Bajirao Singham—modesty is not one of Shetty’s virtues, so he pays tribute to his own films—is transferred from Shivgadh to the more lucrative (read bigger bribes) Miramar Police Station in Goa. He befriends the local don Durva Ranade (a subdued Sonu Sood), going so far as to ingratiate himself with his wife, mother and kid.
He also looks longingly as Shagun (Sara Ali Khan), the tiffin supplier across the street and appoints himself big brother to Aakruti (Vaidehi Parshurami), a medical student who teaches street kids in her spare time.
Till Simmba plays a cartoon cop the film is entertaining, and you don’t even care that the Marathi-speaking cop sings a romantic song to Shagun in Punjabi. Singh, with gelled hair, big moustache and broad smile whoops it up, cheerfully teasing the honest colleague Mohile (Ashutosh Rana), who refuses to salute him.
Then, the worst of the eighties’ angry young man machismo kicks in. Aakruti goes snooping into Durva’s drug den (characters in movies, never seem to watch movies), is raped and killed by his two brothers.
Simmba now breathes fire—how dare anyone touch his sister? That becomes a troublesome and tiresome refrain in the film; the perpetrators need to be punished not so much for what they did, but “what if she was your daughter/sister?” Women are simply rape-bait or cooks, beating up criminals and gunning down rapists in clumsily-staged encounters is a man’s job. In a film that is supposedly on the side of women, the leading lady is simply shoved aside after her quota of song-and-dance. There is also a female judge (Ashwini Kalsekar), but that is just tokenism.
In this law-is-an-ass world of vigilante action that Shetty’s earlier cop hero Singham (Ajay Devgn) believed in, encounters are the only way to deal with felons. Simmba asks the gaggle of admiring women surrounding him, what is to be done with Aakruti’s rapists (her death is not as important) and they all say “kill them.”
In the Telugu film, Temper, on which Simmba is loosely based, there is a credible reason for the hero’s change of heart and a rousing scene in court, where he is willing to sacrifice himself, so that the criminals do not get away.
Shetty simply summons Singham (Devgn in a cameo) and the two men in their police uniforms stride in slow motion to deal with the villains. And the woman judge sternly tells Durva’s mother (theatre legend Sarita Joshi wasted in a two-scene role) that she ought to have raised her sons better!
The film does catch the mood of the time and demands the audiences’ approval for the Singham-Simmba mode of instance justice. For this reason, and for Ranveer Singh’s hyperactive performance, Simmba will be a hit. The discussion on its demerits will remain on paper, and sadly, this one comes at the end of a year in which it looked like formula filmmaking was making an exit. At the end, Rohit Shetty introduces a third khaki-clad hero who will star in his next film. At least on screen, criminals are in for a rough time.
Directed by Rohit Shetty
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan, Ajay Devgn, Sonu Sood and others
Rating: 2.5 stars
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.