Bollywood Film Review “Simran”

   

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First, the Recap:

Ever have that notion that life is finally starting to turn around for the better? Events occur that allow us to revel in the forward progress we’ve made and the future looks bright, happy, and filled with hope. What if that dream gets dashed? How do you rebound from total disappointment? Gujarati housekeeper Praful Patel (Kangana Ranaut) has things going for her in the U.S.  An upstanding citizen and hard worker, the efforts in her hotel-based employment have gained her the ability to purchase a home and finally have some independence, with the only real downsides having to be working with her now ex-husband Mike (Rupinder Nagra) and seeking “escape” from her beloved but sometimes overbearing parents.

However, as Praful approaches the time which everything is to come together, a spontaneous trip with her best friend Amber (Aneesha Joshi) to Las Vegas prompts some ill-advised decisions that quickly throw her life into chaos, specifically financially, compounded upon entering a very unwise deal with an ruthless loan shark named Bugs (Jason Louder). Adding further pressure to the situation, Praful’s parents desire her to wed the awkward but nice Sameer (Sohum Shah), the last thing on her mind. In a final act of desperation, Praful turns to the most unanticipated of directions to obtain money, pay off Bugs, and hope that through it all, her life can actually have the potential she’s always wanted and the happiness she might not think she deserves.

Next, my Mind:

Filled with effervescent, airy whimsy amidst equally affecting dramatic flare with moments that are charmingly endearing then tension-bearing and heartbreakingly poignant then back to smile-inducing and everything in between, there is no doubt whatsoever you will cover the complete emotional spectrum featured in director Hansal Mehta and writer Apurva Asrani’s 124-minute effort. An exploration into the beauty of hopes and dreams, the dangers of ambition and overtly emotional resolve when making important decisions, the need of family, and the ultimately sincere drive to take ownership of and correct one’s own mistakes, the narrative flows along with intent and perfect pacing, allowing the viewer to be wholly immersed into Praful’s world and the messes she gets in, all the while falling completely in love with her persona and allure. We care what happens to her, from how she gets into the dilemma she does all the way to how she attempts to get out of it, fully invested in supporting her from our theater seats. The Sachin-Jigar music score and songs accompany the unfolding story beautifully here as well, and smoothly shot cinematography assists in following the action clearly.

There’s certainly no getting past the superb strength of character-driven poise and acting power represented by Kangana Ranaut in her performance as Praful, a young, strong, highly motivated, bubbly, delightful, and yet ever-so-slightly damaged woman whose life at first seemed dominated by the whims of others. Having made herself successful on personal merits alone now, she strives for an even better, ideally more fulfilled American-based life which all gets upended when she makes a series of bad choices out of initially good intentions. Then, it becomes measures of both determination and discouragement to try and dig out of the hole she’s in, which could either win her newfound opportunity or, more likely, ruin her future.  Yet, Praful finds that fortitude to push through and, while still drastic, take on what she needs to to find reconciliation for her circumstances and try to make something of it. Seeing how she handles others trying to help her, even when she hasn’t asked for it, speaks volumes to not only who she currently is, but is actually becoming along the way, and these nuances are brilliantly played out through the entire film thanks to Ranaut’s excellent turns as this character, winning smile in tow as well.

Prime supporting turns are present here as well from Shah as Sameer, Praful’s expected husband-to-be whom loves her in deeper ways that she is even willing to realize at first and in spite of her reluctance to accept the arrangement, Louder as the prototypical unscrupulous loan shark Bugs, who makes Praful’s life quite hellish in pursuit of what she owes him, Joshi as Praful’s friend Amber, who is in a way the one who really unknowingly starts Praful’s chaotic adventures in taking her to Vegas, Esha Tiwari as Salma, Praful’s supportive co-worker and sometimes confident and aid in time of need, and Nagra as Mike, Praful’s domineering ex-husband and co-worker who gets to bear the brunt of a woman scorned at one point. Additional turns come from Mark Justice, Catherine Dyer, James Cole, and Timothy Ryan Hickernell among many others. In total, “Simran” is totally fun Bollywood romp with an independent film feel that very much gets buoyed by Kanaut’s real world charm and formidable acting skills while providing an engaging storyline and relevant message to boot.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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