Like most rape-and-revenge melodramas, Simmba uses the heinous crime as a dishonest hash-tag; it is designed to exploit the current mood of a nation that often lets movies be its moral science textbooks. The most disheartening part about Simmba is its bipolar pursuit of relevance. The setup was the film; there was no need to embrace the guileless-sermon path. Just letting Singh play the fool, without hindrance, might have finally lent credence to the Rohit Shetty School of non-storytelling. A goofy, lighthearted spoof – or at least a lighter sense of self-importance – might have sufficed. I will perhaps never understand the obsession of mainstream filmmakers to pack as many genres as possible into a single movie. The shift in tone is almost always jarring. Not jarring enough to stop a director from announcing his next film – title, hero and year included – within the end-credits of his previous one, clearly. I’m worried that the next “trend” to be fictionalized might be #MeToo, which is already a hash-tag to begin with. Imagine the hypocrisy that might entail.
Simmba's attempt to seem 'woke' is problematic and falls flat on its face. Rohit Shetty swaps leaping jeeps and fluorescent hues for lectures on 'raise your sons right' and 'death penalty for rapists'. All this purported sensitivity does little to conceal its heavy-handed drama where every now and then, someone is guilt tripped to stand in the assaulted person's shoes and the word 'rape' is endlessly repeated. During an absurdly staged encounter, the cops provoke the culprits by crudely taunting their manhood while inside the courtroom a lawyer states, 'They raped her in a fit of rage', sounding more defensive than disgusted. If this is cinema that roars, I am happy watching cat videos.
Rohit Shetty does full justice to the movie and incorporates his age-old formula of making masala films. His tried and tested method will surely bring results yet again. Simmba is a dhamaka from the start till the end. The cinematography is excellent. Shots establishing Simmba's entry and the action sequences bring you much needed thrills. Farhad Samji and Sajid Samji are sensational with their hilarious dialogues. Their witty one liners coupled with Ranveer and Siddharth's dialogue delivery makes first half of the movie an absolute laugh riot. It shall leave you with a hurting stomach.
In Singham Returns Again, oops, sorry, Simmba, a police officer sloughs off his rough-and-ready skin and emerges as the savior of the poor and meek. Wait, haven’t we seen that before? Bad question, because this one could just as well have been called Singham part 3. The only reason to watch Simmba then, is Ranveer Singh. In his sharp moochh sticking up at both ends, shiny bronzed face, broad shoulders filling out, eventually, the khakee uniform, Singh is Simmba. Striding into cop stations, wading into ‘goondas’, losing his heart to the girl across the road Shagun (Ali Khan), Singh is fully alive to the moment, knowing that he is working in a template, aware that he has to keep breaking out. Finally, it is Singh, bubbling over as the ‘bhai-from-another-aai’, that you take away from this jaded thing.
Simmba falters badly when it tries to be a meaningful social drama with a message that rings out as loud as the background score. The post-interval portion is packed with platitudes about the safety of women, an eyebrow-raising depiction of a fake encounter in a police station, a recommendation that rapists must be given the death penalty, a candle-light vigil and, for good measure, a mention of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape. Ranveer Singh’s energy and flamboyance ensure that Simmba appears more engaging than it often is, and Ajay Devgn’s well-timed cameo rescues the film from being a write-off. Simbba is all about its male movie stars. Sara Ali Khan has fewer scenes than some of the other characters, including Siddharth Jadhav as a member of Simmba’s posse. The movie has no use for her Shagun – so much for being on the side of women.
The film delivers what it sets out to do – give us full on masala entertainment along with seeti-inducing scenes. In the second half, however, the film also turns into a preachy discourse on safety of women and a campaign against sexual predators in our society. The narrative is predictable and there is hardly an element of surprise. But overall, Simmba is a potboiler that you expect it to be, where the good surely outweighs the bad. There are enough paisa vasool moments including the cameo by the original Singham, Ajay Devgn. And it doesn’t end there. Shetty leaves you with a parting shot of another superstar already revealing the first look of his offering in 2019.
This is Shetty’s best work, a film of unflagging tempo with a genuinely charismatic lead, and while the actual story — about a bad cop who starts avenging rapes — isn’t interesting or original, Shetty keeps it entertaining, albeit longer than it should be. Shetty plays at balance, giving decisive roles to female characters — judge, mother, policewomen — in a film that claims to be about rape, but this film is still all musk. Sonu Sood makes for an effective towering villain, while Singh pats his gun so long and hard that the film briefly turns into a Western.