Hindi Reviews

Simmba Review: Nothing We’ve Not Known Before

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Director: Rohit Shetty

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan, Sonu Sood, Ajay Devgn

Composer:  S Thaman, Tanishk Bagchi, Lijo George – DJ Chetas, Chandan Saxena, Amar Mohile

Ranveer Singh’s sing-song voice – or some may call it a conscious style choice – can go a long way in making terrible films tolerable, or for minutes here and there, even enjoyable. He plays Sangram Bhalerao aka Simmba, the corrupt police officer with a flashback right out of the 70s films in Rohit Shetty’s eponymous film. Its mythological potency is questionable at best but Shetty films it almost in monochrome when a young Simmba is selling tickets in black for Andaz Apna Apna. We can imagine a young Ranveer Singh, the kitsch magnet, channelling all his enthusiasm into that dream job. And then the colours burst forth and it makes us wonder if this is a film from the Mumbai industry or from Ramoji Film City. It is of course loosely based on the Telugu film Temper, but Singh manages to hand-paint authenticity in a way only Vikram did back in Saamy. Saamy too had a way with words and bribes.

Ranveer Singh in Simmba speaks in verse with an obsessive compulsion to rhyme. Shetty and Singh (screenplay by Sajid Samji, Yunus Sajawal, dialogues by Farhad Samji) are just as obsessed with this quality in Simmba that even when he is hit by a life altering tragedy, they don’t take it away from him. Even the hurt, distraught Simmba lays out his syllables as if he was in some spoken word competition. Thanks to the setting of the film – the border of Goa and Maharashtra – Simmba even slips into Marathi but Singh sells the part at all times in all slangs. Half the lines work only because they are coming from Singh and a one about ice, water, alcohol and the moon brought the house down.

For more Telugu cinema call-backs, there is Sonu Sood playing the antagonist Dhurva Ranade and we have an early scene where the villain himself portends the greatness of the hero. That’s textbook myth building but Shetty tosses them one after another like they are checklist items that mean nothing more. But if you are looking for the whistles, Ranveer Singh is there to provide those aplenty – like when he dances on the job into a pub along with his fellow police officers. Rarely have our superhero police officers on screen stopped being uptight (outside of the song sequences) but Ranveer Singh will not let that continue. In a serious scene when he has drawn the final blood, quite literally, Simmba closes with a sick burn about having found all relationships except for the brotherly kind. Singh almost plays Simmba like a spoof on every police officer part that we’ve known. Only if it had been like that from start to finish.

Shetty shifts gears and decelerates, bringing in rape and associated monstrosities of how it is wielded in popular cinema. Simmba meets Shagun (Sara Ali Khan whose eyes and legs can match Ranveer Singh’s energy on the dance floor), the daughter of slain encounter specialist. Apart from Shagun, every woman in the film is co-opted as mother or sister by Simmba so that the prevalent mood and emotions can be extorted for maximum discomfort. Shetty even pushes for a tasteless candle light vigil sequence and a Nirbhaya mention. We have two problematic themes coming together the way speeding four-wheelers come at each other in Shetty’s films – rape and extrajudicial killings.

Multiple characters proclaim multiple times that murder is the only judgement for rapists and solution to rape. Rohit Shetty was better off making comedy films that failed to make you laugh. Now he’s entered a dangerous ideological territory with no filmmaking chops to speak of. So, whatever we see and will probably get to see in the future is bound to come free of nuance. Simmba’s catchphrase is “tell me something I don’t know”. We feel like saying the same thing to Shetty, whose talent or lack of it is something we’ve known for a long time now. If we are to take seriously the suggestion that there exists another cop (played by an actor known for quasi-propaganda films) who shares Simmba and Singam’s universe then only Saamy can save us.

*****

The Simmba review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site

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