Director: Rohit Shetty
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan and Sonu Sood
Director Rohit Shetty, famous for his unique blend of comedy and action, has re-discovered his mojo. Simmba, his new offering with Ranveer Singh in and as Simmba, has everything you expect from a Rohit Shetty film. Shetty takes the classic Hindi film formula --which was given the heave-ho with the arrival of multiplex movies –and reprises it cleverly, well... almost. Adapting the main story from the Telugu film Temper, Shetty uses the classic tropes of mainstream commercial cinema from the 70s/80s. The film’s eponymous protagonist has a backstory of being a poor orphan who decides to turn into a Policewala for all the wrong reasons. Although immensely likable, Simmba is corrupt and ethically compromised. Along the film’s journey, he has to contend with a grimacing villain Doorva Ranade (Sonu Sood) with evil brothers and a pretty young lady Shagun (Sara Ali Khan) whose sole purpose in the film is to be Simmba’s romantic interest and of course, a misdeed (rape) that causes the ultimate change of his heart.
There is an important aside here—Simmba hails from Shivgadh, the same village as Bajirao Singham (played by Ajay Devgn), the protagonist of the film Singham.
Rohit Shetty, plays to his strengths –the comic sequences in particular, are hilarious. Farhad Samji’s dialogues are key to keeping the film light for the most part. But, Simmba falters in its blending of the comic, with the serious. Its attempt at being socially-relevant and send out an anti-rape message leaves a lot to be desired. The plot points get weighed down by the several nudge-nudge references to the brutal Nirbhaya case. To add to this, in the post-interval half, the dialogues lose their comic touch and turn preachy, slowing down an otherwise breezy masala entertainer. The film’s heart, however, is in the right place and one must point out that Shetty has carefully steered away from the old-fashioned tacky, ham-handed treatment of showcasing crime against women. Much effort has been made to give women (in the film) a voice--a female judge (Ashwini Kalsekar), Constable Mohile’s (an important support character) wife, Doorva Ranade’s mother and wife among many others. The trouble is that the effort shows.
What Shetty does really well though is adding the commercial bells and whistles complete with song-dance, maar-dhaad and emotionally-charged sequences that are critical to a film driven by sheer star power. A well-calculated cameo by Ajay Devgn is designed to send the crowds in a frenzy as is a surprise appearance by a certain Veer Suryavanshi (a superstar addition that sets the stage for an even bigger sequel) at the end. The seeds for the next edition of Simmba have already been sown. Sara Ali Khan, a confident new addition to the Hindi film heroine category will benefit from being part of this film that threatens to become a massive franchise.
However, Simmba (played flawlessly by Ranveer Singh... but more on that later) ultimately works because Shetty is able to draw fantastic performances from Singh and the supporting cast comprising Ashutosh Rana as Constable Mohile and Siddharth Jadhav as Tawade. To this end, Rana, as the upright conscience keeper and Jadhav meant primarily to add to the comic element are effective in livening up the proceedings. Mohile’s constant refusal to salute Simmba because of his corrupt ways provides many a comic moment and is a nice touch.
Ranveer Singh surrenders himself completely to his role and unabashedly milks the gamut of emotions essential for a true blue Hindi film hero–from rib-tickling comedy, bone-breaking action to intense emotional moments—with consummate ease. Among the younger generation stars now vying to transition from an urban metropolitan appeal to a mass, pan–India acceptance, Singh appears to be a frontrunner and if you watch Simmba, you will know why. The reactions from the crowd–chuckles and laughter- from the moment Singh enters the frame indicate a radical shift from the time that he made his debut. It is evident that his cultivation of an off-screen persona with over-the-top gestures, outlandish fashion statements is working like a charm.
At the press screening where I saw the film, Singh made an appearance in the theatre during intermission–creating hysteria among the otherwise stiff-upper-lipped members of the media. As he posed for photos, embracing strangers with abandon and indulging everyone’s fan-moment, it was quite evident that people from all walks of life have embraced him too as their new heart-throb.
Simmba- the film, undoubtedly, will benefit from this embrace and will add up to magical numbers, taking Ranveer Singh to the new stratosphere of stardom, where he clearly belongs.