Kangana Ranaut is “Simran” – an alias she gives herself after watching Amrish Puri’s dialog “Jaa Simran Jaa, jeele apni zindgai” (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge). Really, she is Praful Patel, a Gujarati woman in the US. She is a divorcee, lives with her parents, and works in hotel housekeeping. Her days are humdrum, but Praful herself is a vivacious spitfire, looking forward to buying her dream home and getting away from her forever carping father. She even has an apartment and mortgage papers all lined up, but a self-made catastrophe takes it all away. Her problems grow from there even as she tries to find creative “solutions”.
From the above description you might think that this is a downer of a film, but it’s not really. Kangana is quite marvelous as peculiar Praful; her eccentricities mingle with what we might kindly call “character flaws” to make Praful an interesting protagonist. Good-hearted Praful is always full of bright ideas, harebrained schemes, and acts impulsively. This film then is a compendium of her journey, her bumbling antics, so it unfolds like a tv sitcom (I could see it as a series) rather than a full-fledged Hindi movie.
The film’s point of view is unique, for when have we had a single divorced US woman as a lead, all by herself in a mainstream Bollywood movie? Simran’s parents want to see her married and “settled” into respectability, while all Simran wants to do is live her life – respectability be damned! She speaks her mind, and disregards all the “good Indian girl” rules. She has had multiple boyfriends, and approaches men in bars with the sole idea of sleeping with them. There is a scene in the film, where Simran having had access to a little spare cash, goes about buying $400 dresses and eating out in a fancy restaurant. The sight of her happily relishing her food all by herself, surrounded by various dishes brought a lump to my throat – such is the character’s likability; you feel for her despite her numerous missteps.
The film’s supporting cast also does a good job. Hiten Kumar is especially effective as her severely critical father. Kishori Shahne as Simran’s pacifist mom is lovely too. Sohum Shah plays Sameer, Simran’s golden-hearted fiance, and manages to tug at your heartstrings in the limited screen time he has. The film has good music – my favorite was the lovely romantic ballad “Meet”. And the tongue-in-cheek “Single Rehne De” (plays during end credits) made me smile .
Simran has its moments of comedy, although the storyline goes down some very dire paths. Lead actress Kangana manages to keep this film interesting, despite being the sole big name here. Director Hansal Mehta, who’s also directed gems like Aligarh and Shahid, deserves praise for walking the fine line between humor and poignancy so well.
Kidwise: Nothing too scary/vulgar. Some scenes have guns, one scene with talk about safe/unsafe sex.