‘SIMRAN’– (Hindi)
Duration: 124 minutes
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Soham Shah, Hiten Kumar
Director: Hansal Mehta/ Production: Paramhans Creations, AdarshTelemedia
A T-Series pictures release
Rating: 3*

Chitty Chitty Bank Bank!

How to rob a bank in 3 easy steps if you’re a Gujju in the USA.
Yes, the banks welcome sassy young ladies who come and say ‘Stick ‘em up’ without any double meaning involved!
A true story of a deft lady’s fingers that could’ve tasted better if the menu wasn’t so long drawn and the dishes not so confused in the second half. But a decent watch, to start with.

In the mainstream Bollywood space, Simran treads where only a few films have before. A film with no leading male star, its Kangana Ranaut’s show all the way.

Kangana plays Praful Patel, a 30-year-old divorcee who lives with her parents in Atlanta. It’s a regular Indian family set up – with her father fuming over mounting expenses at home and having a wife and a divorcee daughter to look after. His main grouse does seem to be that his daughter chose to marry on her terms and also divorce on her own terms. He would rather see her married – happily or not – being the afterthought.

Praful, on her part, is no weeping damsel in distress. She works as a housekeeper in a hotel and saves her hard-earned money to buy the house of her dreams and move out of her parents’ home. She definitely rules out marriage or any man as an end to fulfilling her dreams.

But the solutions she ends up resorting to are hardly worth applauding. And therein lies the beauty of Simran. Kangana’s character is flawed however endearing; to the point that one ends up wanting to chide her for the choices she makes and yet also root for her at the same time.

In a bid to get away from the squabbles at home and to defy her parents, she accompanies her rich cousin on a trip to Vegas. And left to her own devices, once there by her cousin who only tagged her along as an ally, to catch up with her ex-fiancé, Praful samples the rush of gambling and winning big bucks in a casino. And gets to savor the flavors of high life! It’s a high she falls for hard – being able to afford designer clothes, pink champagne, exotic food and some more gambling – all at one go. One stellar scene sees Kangana on the rooftop of a hotel overlooking the glitzy city enjoying a glass of champagne on her own – right after she refuses to have sex with a man she hooks up with, for not using protection.

One ends up wishing she had used the same discretion when it came to making her other choices. Praful jumps headlong into heavy-duty gambling – on her next few days in Vegas, digging herself deeper and deeper into debt. And also plays into the hands of a loan shark – to keep fueling her desire to win back her money.

After a few failed attempts to ask her father to help her out with money and obviously too scared to spill out the truth about owing big bucks, she takes matters into her own hands. And almost as she jumped headlong into gambling, she resorts to robbing banks to solve her debt issue. Thereby creating a whirlpool of problems for herself. Praful does have options coming her way – where men either in a bid to exploit her or in love with her offer to help her out. But her free spirited and independent streak doesn’t allow her to take them up.

The film though reportedly inspired by the real life story of 24-year-old Sandeep Kaur (often called the ‘Bombshell Bandit’ in real life) misses out on the poignancy of the actual story of a person unapologetically wanting the high-life and committing grave errors to facilitate them.

While the first half of Simran is a breeze as Kangana infuses life into a fun, sassy and vibrant character, the second half meanders on before finally reaching its point. And the biggest weak point of the film is in the bank robbery scenes – which makes the series of crimes committed look like child’s play– with the American police, security and bank staff coming across as a bunch of nincompoops. This confused treatment of the plotline makes it tiresome to sit through the second half.

Watch it for Kangana’s stellar performance and her no-holds-barred act. – barring the supporting cast of Hiten Tejwani, Mark Justice, and Sohum Shah.

This one could’ve been a credit in the bank of Bollywood, but gets a big debit in the final act. It costs the movie. Maybe robbing a script bank would’ve worked better, no?

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