Movie Review: 'Simmba’
Opened: 28 December 2018
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan, Sonu Sood, Vrajesh Hirjee, Ashutosh Rana, Ashwini Kalsekar, Ajay Devgn
Director: Rohit Shetty
Producers: Karan Johar, Hiroo Yash Johar, Rohit Shetty, Apoorva Mehta
Life is full of surprises. And heck, Simmba is one of them. A pleasant one at that. To be fair, hell probably would have frozen over, the day I openly admitted to even remotely enjoying a Rohit Shetty film, but lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened when I decided to devote an entire afternoon, to what is essentially standard, revenge drama fodder with a template derived straight from the 80’s -- hard done by corrupt cop, (Ranveer Singh, in fine form and in his element, flexing his commercial clout) avenges the brutal rape of a teenager by taking on beefed up ‘gaon ka gunda’ (Sonu Sood, effective but under-utilised) and his stoic cronies.
A spin-off of the popular Singham franchise, and loosely based on the Telugu film, Temper, Simmba follows the escapades of Sangram "Simmba" Bhalerao, a corrupt police officer hailing from the same town as Singham, who is forced to lead a more righteous path after a well-meaning young girl, who he forms an unlikely bond with, is assaulted, and subsequently loses her life.
It’s important to emphasise that I, by no means whatsoever, condone loony cops going on a killing rampage, by taking the law into their own hands, but for what it’s worth, Simmba is surprisingly enjoyable and engaging and is hugely elevated by a cast, especially Singh, who, by his own admission, has been brought up on a staple diet of the revenge dramas of yore particularly, the ones from the 80’s and 90’s.
In fact, I’m stunned it took someone nearly eight years into the star’s career, to tap into the masala facet of his acting persona, especially since he wears it so unabashedly on his sleeve. Needless to add, he’s in terrific form here, delivering ‘dhamakedaar’, whistle-inducing lines with aplomb and gusto, not once slipping into the shadows, or for that matter even imitating the countless heroes that, by and large, have done this spiel before him. He’s got this.
The rest of the cast perhaps, unsurprisingly gets side-lined by his towering performance but they do get their moments to shine. Sara Ali Khan, who single-handedly carried Kedarnath to success, seems to be perfectly content to let Singh do the heavy-lifting here, and is at home playing his arm candy and why not? It’s not as if every film will be a career-defining masterpiece will it? It’s a classic strategy - get the hits then do something substantial once you’ve established yourself. That said, whatever she does do here isn’t devoid of quality at all - she makes an impact and is as luminous as ever, and despite the glaring age gap between her and Singh, they have a delectable chemistry between them. In contrast, Sood has a towering presence and thankfully, it’s a part that has an arc, as opposed to be an out and out antagonist which made for a refreshing change, while Ashutosh Rana as a patriotic head constable gets his moments to shine too, even if it does all get a little preachy at times.
Simmba is by and large a fitting end to the year. It’s stuffed (perhaps over-stuffed), with nearly every element befitting of a commercial potboiler, and makes no bones about it either. Sure, it’s unlikely to be a game-changer, and is entirely forgettable, but admittedly, it’s the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a while. Sure, the cameos and even piggy-backing on a trending and serious topic like rape is a little gimmicky and manipulative, but I didn’t find myself focusing on the gaping holes in the film’s screenplay too much, and for someone like me who was brought up on a staple diet of this nonsense, it felt like a breath of fresh air in this day and age, where as a generation, we seem hell-bent on sucking the life out of something which hints at even an iota of fun, all in the name of political correctness – sometimes you do just want to let your hair down at the movies, and that’s exactly what I did in Simmba.
Three and a half stars then, and an extra star for Singh, who is pure dynamite here - ‘tell him something he didn’t know.’