Simmba: A Preachy, Predictable, Formulaic Film With An Unbearable Second Half
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
As expected, Director Rohit Shetty’s Simmba is a quintessential, mass formulaic film that seems to have been inspired from the 2015, Telugu film Temper. Initially, it is a joy to watch Ranveer Singh bring alive his character’s pizzazz. Even though this is formulaic entertainment, the comedy in the first half is at least bearable. But as the second half unravels, the film takes up a heavy message and becomes preachy in the false pretense of dealing with women empowerment. With a little more freshness and a whole lot of imagination, formulaic films can be entertaining too, but Simmba sadly is no old wine in a new bottle. It is simply old wine in a damaged bottle because of the superficialities that seemed to have seeped into the predictable screenplay.
Hailing from the small town of Shivgadh, Sangram “Simmba” Bhalerao (Ranveer Singh) becomes a police officer for just one reason; to make money. He is an openly corrupt officer who closes his eyes when need be to give criminals who bribe him a free hand to do what they please. One day, when he learns of the abuse caused to his loved one, he pledges to never be corrupt again. He blames his recklessness for the lack of a happy upbringing and promises to start with a clean slate. His first mission as a cop seeking redemption is to bring justice to his loved one. But an angsty and protective Durva Yashwant Ranade (Sonu Sood) is determined to do everything in his power to take down Simmba. Whether or not his efforts to become a redeemed police officer comes through forms the crux of this film.
One of the predominant problems with Simmba is the fact that it takes itself too seriously. When you walk into the theatres, you are okay with flying cars, you are okay with the hero doing superhuman stunts. But what you don’t expect is a foray into sensitive subjects just to buff up the central character’s ego. The first half is predictable but fairly entertaining. It is the second half that brings the film down. It is when Simmba delivers monologues on women empowerment that things go sour.
This isn’t to say that formulaic films can never have heavy messages. Take the Tamil film Kadaikutty Singam for instance. The aforementioned film doesn’t exactly come up with an innovative take on conventional films and yet it successfully incorporates a message on the importance of our nation’s farmers. It achieves this feat by actually spending enough time to justify its cause. It doesn’t merely inflate its hero’s ego. It does some inflation of course but covers its tracks by making the message pliable in the bigger picture. Simmba, on the other hand, spends no time and effort to make a proper establishment. For the first sixty minutes, you have a character you don’t take seriously and suddenly, he is made out to be the voice of all women. This is why the film is preachy and unconvincing. Topics like Women Empowerment and rape cannot be used to sell the hero’s integrity, can it? This is why it’s unacceptable and ironic to have the hero save the day, once again while conveniently sidelining the women in this film.
As Simmba, Ranveer Singh pours his blood, sweat, and tears to make his character unforgettable. He simply gives it his all with utmost enthusiasm and it is this earnest ambition of his that makes the film bearable at least. Unfortunately, Sara Ali Khan barely has anything to do in the film. She is used as a prop to carry out the hero’s mission. Her screen time is merely a few minutes. This comes as a disappointment considering her promising debut in Kedarnath. As the antagonist, Sonu Sood is average. The writing lays limitations on his portrayal and in return, his true potential is never tapped into. This is why you hardly ever find him intimidating in the film.
Visually, Simmba follows a template. Heavy color corrected frames with warm tones is what you get. This is the norm for hero-centric films these days. How can visual-storytelling follow a template? This in itself is wrong, isn’t it? The music too is quite conventional with its loud and jarring tunes. The only way any of these aspects will be worth mentioning is if they attempt to bring something new to the plate.
On the whole, Simmba is a preachy, formulaic film that takes itself too seriously. If you are a fan of Ranveer Singh’s acting, chances are you’ll find it in you to sit through this otherwise bland film.