Simran - Review

wogma rating: The keen must watch on screen; else DVD (?)
quick review:

Simran has a perfectly flawed lead character, played almost to perfection by Kangna Ranaut, the film has a close-to-perfect climax too. If only, the plot didn't accelerate to being outland-ish mid-way.

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Wogma Review

An Indian middle-class household, only this time it is in American suburbia. That itself is a background relatively sparingly used in Indian films. The lead character, Ms. Patel (Kangna Ranaut) lands herself in more and more unbelievable situations. Yet, you want to shrug it off as the story of one of those odd, madcap people that you encounter in real life too. The craziness makes the plot fall in Hrishikeh Mukherjee, “real people in unreal situations” territory too. But, some time in the last 45 minutes it crosses a line, that makes you dislike the person that the lead lady is.

Simran is no “coming of age” or “seeking / finding redemption” story. It is the story of an unapologetic, even stupid, character. But, as an after-thought, I realised that it is only a slight, figurative exaggeration of some of the people we know. Here I am pointing to those people we know who have very little financial prudence; who know they are digging themselves a deeper hole with every credit card swipe, but are lured by their supposed need for something out-of-reach – a house, a car, branded clothes, “better” lifestyle. This is why I absolutely loved the climax. It was so pleasantly unexpected, yet it stayed believable – given both the texture of the film and the similarity to some real-life people I know.

The acceleration flows well from one incident to another in our protagonist's life. All aspects of Ms. Patel's life are intertwined – her job, her love-life, her aspirations, her relationship with her parents. It would have been so easy to make these things episodic, each episode exposing an aspect of her personality. Owing to the non-standard, holistic approach, it doesn't feel like the scenes were built to prove a certain point about the character but you were seeing her life as it happens. Until it becomes a bit much to digest. A little into the second half, I had that sinking feeling that the movie is losing its plot.

But, since the film stays grounded without overt Americanisation or glamorisation and Kangna Ranaut's is restrained and real, you don't want to give up. Here, the American setting was not really necessary for the script, but the film stays matter-of-factly about it. It just is. Even the sequences in Las Vegas or the only scenes in which Ranaut is well-made-up and well-dressed are rather glitz-free. Surprisingly, the scenes with sex seemed gratuitous and thus, extraneous to the film. I am always thrown off by Kangna Ranaut's accent. So, I easily lost track of whether or not she maintained her Gujarati accent through and through. However, that matters little since she is otherwise doing a good job of making an unbelievably idiot of a character, seem possible.

Simran has an obscure layer of gender bias that's intriguing. Under the overt lines by Mr. Patel, the lead character's father, “a girl should get married”, “a daughter is property that is passed on from father to husband” was this hidden desire for a son. The sole child of this middle-class, Indian-American household, a girl has an ambiguously male-sounding name. This divorced daughter is given one of two contradictory choices – to get married as a girl ought to be or to help support household expenses as a boy ought to do. Be a girl and get out of the house or stay in the house and do what is expected of a boy. This gender bias is not satirical or incidental, it feels like a slice-of-every-girl's life.

This ought to have created sympathy. However, the various facets of Kangna Ranaut's character push you to dislike her. The commentary on financial mismangement and general irresponsibility of the millenials seem exaggerated and yet, ring true. The struggle of Indian parents and children in America to be both American and Indian at the same time isn't new. But put together, they make the film a rich experience that cannot be slotted into one genre. My heart leaped with joy at the climax. If only, the 20-30 minutes in the second half didn't distance you from the film.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A couple of fist fights, cop beating a woman up.
  • Language: A few abusive words
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A making out scene. Talk of protection and sex.
  • Concept: A girls gets deeper and deeper into trouble
  • General Look and Feel: An Indian household in an American city though not necessarily about the diaspora

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3.5
  • Story: 4
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 3
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 3.5
  • Lyrics: 3

Simran - Movie Details

Simran - Trailer

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Comments (2)

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Roy J:

I noticed you criticized the location and certain plot points as unnecessary or unrealistic. You do realize this is based on a true story, right?
Strongly based on Sandeep Kaur: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32481834

meeta:

Hey @Roy J, actually, it wasn't a critical statement. I was pointing out the universality of the situation. That this situation is independent of location.

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