Hindi film enthusiasts, by now, must have understood Rohit Shetty’s universe of cinema. The man who doesn’t claim to take the art of filmmaking seriously is an amusing entity because his films (or rather schemes) are lapped up easily by the paying public. Amid all the garish colours, tacky storylines and slow-motion action, Shetty forever gets the commercial formula right. His latest venture Simmba sees Ranveer Singh in all guns blazing mode (literally, too) and I must say, he is super-fun!
Staying true to the Shetty brand of cinema, the emotions in this cop drama are all out there on your faces. The views that Simmba puts forward are pretty populist and presented in the most aggravating fashion. Yes, Shetty’s film talks about a gruesome rape. The film constantly examines how each of the cast members would have felt if the rape had happened to his/her daughter. And to not anyone’s surprise, the film sees a ‘Nirbhaya’ reference too. Call it manipulative or whatsoever, this is Shetty’s cinema – shamelessly tell-tale and preposterous.
Now to the fun bits! I wholeheartedly lapped up Ranveer Singh as the corrupt cop Sangram Bhalerao ‘Simmba’ as the actor skillfully integrates his personal style to what is Shetty’s proven space of masculine bravado. Bhalerao aka Simmba is not Singham. Simmba talks a LOT. He dances like a dream. He romances his girl in style and has his share of weak moments too. He is in touch with his feminine side and is also macho in a way only Singh can be with his catchphrase being ‘tell me something I don’t know’. The unusual cocktail that Simmba’s character is, Shetty’s leading man is way more interesting than all his Singhams and Golmaal boys put together. Simmba also gets a clichéd yet convincing backstory. With the help of some crackling dialogues sprinkled throughout the first half, Shetty effectively milks Singh’s natural flair for comedy. There is also a romantic track with Shagun (played by a luminous Sara Ali Khan) which is pretty basic and harmless. The girl runs a catering facility right opposite Bhalerao’s police station in Miramar, Goa and her team personal serves meals to the cops. Honestly, I didn’t mind any of it even though the film doesn’t offer anything original at any point. To credit the film enough, Simmba doesn’t pretend to be oblivious of its superficial, stale skin either. Then comes the interval point – Bhalerao’s foster sister Aakriti (Vaidehi Parshurami) is brutally raped and she eventually dies. Simmba wastes no time to turns into a predictable rape-revenge drama where every second person is asked, “What if your daughter were to be raped?” Well, well…
I know this is an unsaid norm of commercial cinema but why is the heroine spared of objectification and verbal attacks, almost all the times? There are numerous women in the film – half of them are sister equivalents to Bhalerao and the rest are like his mothers. The only girl that he chooses to have any sort of romantic interest in is Shagun and she doesn’t his safety net. Why? Because the film does the honours itself! She also disappears once the film abruptly swaps genres and becomes an unbecoming vigilante drama. No, I didn’t mind the sound and fury per se but the tone-deaf treatment of a sensitive subject is alarming. There is an amusing (and unintentionally funny) moment where Bhalerao quizzes every woman in his sight about what they would have done to the rapists who were on the verge of escaping the clutches of law. The women come up with varied yet similar answers – each inviting thunderous applause from the viewers. We nearly hear the sound of the cash registers ringing at this point, you know!
The writers (Yunus Sajawal, Sajid Samji) trade the first half’s unabashed desi humour to a chain of contrived situations in the latter. In days of Whatsapp and viral videos, the villains manage to smoothly erase a vital proof that’s in a mobile phone secured by the cops. You see the mute informer kid (Chhotu is his name, haha) and the 19-year-old salwar kameez-clad victim comfortably storm into a rave party where they randomly start recording videos. How did they enter the pub in the first place? How alien are the makers of the concept of bouncers? The film exploits stereotypes after stereotypes in the third act with Bhalerao finding family in every other person that he meets. The supporting cast seems to be putting in performances that are worth twice the pay packet they must be taking home. Clearly, playing to the gallery is too light a phrase in the high-decibel potboiler that Simmba is.
It is a futile exercise to sit and find faults in the writing intents and cunning filmmaking devices in Simmba. Furthermore, this is the kind of cinema that does not try – possibly because of its clear lack of ambitions. Rohit Shetty’s money-spinning formula is smeared with a predictable overdose of testosterone where women hardly get agency of any sorts. There are star cameos which only add value if you were a fan of Shetty’s erstwhile films. I, certainly, am not. My takeaway from Simmba has to be the smashing Ranveer Singh who hogs almost every frame and is delightfully original in what could be my personal favourite act of his in a very long time!
Rating: ★★ 1/2