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SIMRAN (Hindi)

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By Meena Yeggina
Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Sohum Shah
Direction: Hansal Mehta
Music: Sachin and Jigar
***/5

Kangana Ranaut as Praful Patel brings both life and poignancy to Sandeep Kaur real life drama with a stupendous performance

Simran is a simple and enduring movie that I enjoyed every minute of.

It is loosely based on a true story of a young Punjabi American woman called Sandeep Kaur who gives into gambling on a whim. To pay off the debt taken from the terrifying loan sharks, she executes a slew of bank robberies.

At a time when the country is tense, suspicious and scared after the horrific September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Sandeep's robberies work as a peace of cake. People in general were suspicious of different ethnic groups and gave in easily. Simran's petty thievery needs to be viewed from this perspective and not expect a Dhoom 3 like adventure where Aamir Khan had to lay out an intrinsic plan to heist a bank on a super sexy bike. A plain fake bomb scare was pretty much enough for Praful. She didn't have to actually carry any bombs or guns, just a lipstick. Yes these seemingly impossible simple and dumb heists did take place in real life as well with Sandeep Kaur, whose life story Kangana played. Except that in real life Sandeep is a 24-year-old Punjabi girl living right here in San Jose, CA. She worked as a nurse and her father is a taxi driver. Sandeep Kaur earned the nickname Bombshell Bandit by the CBI whereas Praful Patel in the movie is renamed Lipstick Bandit. Sandeep is single but Praful is a 30-year-old divorcee.

Kangana as Praful is terrific and uplifts this sequential story to a multifaceted one. She grows as an actor with each movie and I don't think anybody in Bollywood including Amir Khan can come close to her level of performance.

Praful, a 30-year-old divorcee living with her parents as an only child, saves all her money as a housekeeper at a hotel and is on the verge of buying her own apartment in suburban Atlanta. She gets a good deal on it and is waiting on her loan approval, which is almost confirmed. She has a symbiotic relationship with her parents, excellently portrayed by Kishori Shahane and Hiten Kumar, who are most of the part concerned about her future (which parents aren't?). Praful finds them irritating yet loves them. Like any child she is swung by conflicting emotions wanting both to be free of them yet loving them enough to stay on. She doesn't hesitate to ask them for help, financial or otherwise. And like any other parent the father doesn't let her have it easy, harping on her divorce and abetting her to get remarried as soon as possible.

Praful scrapes, hoards and works hard to save what she has-to lose it all on whimsical greed to earn more at a casino in Las Vegas during her cousins wedding. Gambling becomes an addiction and she falls into the trap of a loan shark who offers her money without her even asking. Thus start her problems that lead her to attack banks to get the 50k she owes. On a whim, she just enters a secluded bank with a note scribbled with lipstick about having a bomb and the clerk hands over what he has. Just as it had happened in real life.

The pasteurization of this story is not as dark as it sounds. It's filled with enduring humor, fun, and Kangana lifts it with her idiosyncratic and touching performance. Her moods uplift you and her sorrow saddens you. Praful is not a role model but you just can't help loving the character and feel for her - you want her to be happy. Her love interest played by Sohum Shah affects you and pulls at your heartstrings though a more sensitive actor like say a Barun Sobti would have been more viable both for the film and box office collections.

There is nothing not to like in this movie. The innocence and simplicity of Praful, her relationships, her waywardness, all affect you and you indulge in the flow. You can't help investing in her. Kangana stole my heart with her tender and poignant performance. She is magnificent.

This is not a sob story. You will be smiling through out and will walk out of the theatre smiling as well even as Praful is paying the price for her waywardness.

Forget Judwaa 2 and go watch Simran instead if it's still playing near you, with your family. I give 3.5/5 for this film.

 
Delphi Openhouse
November 2017

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