Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan, Sonu Sood, Ashutosh Rana, Ashwini Kalsekar, Vijay Patil, Siddharth Jadhav, Ajay Devgan, Abdul Qadir Amin, Suchitra Bandekar, Neha Mahajan, Vaidehi Parshuramani, Ronjini Chakraborty, Amrit Pal Singh, Naushad Abbas
Director: Rohit Shetty
Rating: * * ½
If Rohit Shetty’s films (Simmba included) had pop-culture comic book references to lend them cult appeal, they would definitely have been deemed better. Nevertheless, his films create their own entreaty – which resonates with the masses because of their thematic inferences and good versus evil content.
Simmba is no different from Singham in that respect. Broadly inspired by the Telugu hit ‘Temper,’ this Rohit Shetty film starring Ranveer Singh, posits good and evil as two sides of the same coin. Shetty in fact is consciously expanding his comic-cop universe to include different shades of grey – but in altered standalone franchises. His cinematic universe appears to be entirely inspired by south Indian (largely Tamil-Telugu) filmmaking sensibilities. He isn’t interested in portraying complex characters in his films. And its obvious that he has his ear to the ground so far as the movie-going audience’ expectations are concerned. Most of his actioners and comedies have done brisk business at the Box-office in spite of the ever carping critics (me included).
Sangram Bhalerao (Ranveer Singh) may have been abandoned in Shivgad, the place where Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgan) left his indelible imprint, but he does not idolise the fearsome, righteous officer-in-uniform. For Simmba, the uniform is a means to become powerful and rich, quick!
In the first half, Bhalerao aka Simmba, the orphan, a three-star Senior cop, is as corrupt as you can get – yet his needy appropriations of familial relationships with the villains and victims alike, make him seem a little more human than the imposingly vile Durva Ranade (Sonu Sood) and therefore, makes his return to humanity more acceptable.
Shetty’s narrative is a veritable comic-book-lover’s fantasy come true. Characters make toonish impressions with unapologetic vigour. So there’s no great depth or dimension in their portrayal – just a straightforward, loud, packaging that doesn’t expect the audience to exercise their grey matter. I guess there’s guilty pleasure to be had in such leave-your-brains-at-home, formulaic aphorisms.
And Ranveer Singh delightfully makes Simmba his own with a style-heavy, winsome, knowing corruptness that is all so alluring. In the opening sequence Simmba sells cinema tickets in black, taking on goons twice his size with fearless bravado. While the pre-interval section is intent on establishing Simmba’s easy-come, easy-go virtue, the post-interval bit flips over to have him feeling the pain of loss and engaging in righteous connivance.
The narrative even has it’s climactic set-piece glorifying encounter deaths – with the heroine Shagun (Sara Ali Khan) mouthing dialogues praising her encounter-cop father for his so-called heroism in logging a high count. The narrative gets a whole bunch of women (mostly appropriated sisters and mothers of the orphan cop) to make ridiculous, outrageous comments in praise of Bobbitising and vigilantism.
So the film’s moral compass is totally warped, the titular character’s actions are politically incorrect and the ludicrous buffaloing makes it all so inconsequential and mindless. The second half even tends to tedium. Writers Yunus Sajawal and Farhad Samji make empty-headedness their requiem, of sorts. But Ranveer Singh’s psyched-up vitality, Sara Ali Khan’s savvy confidence and a whole bunch of supporting actors (largely from the Marathi film industry), create an affect that is both eye-pleasing as well as fairly ameliorating. And that’s exactly why this film might appeal to a certain demographic.