The only way to enjoy Rohit Shetty’s film Simmba is by leaving your principles and values at the popcorn counter.
There are so many things wrong with Rohit Shetty’s Simmba that it would take me a three-year undergraduate course to teach the ‘masala’ movie director the meaning of feminism. Ranveer Singh is his usual exuberant self, but the film doesn’t know what to do with Sara Ali Khan.
After Simmba, I am convinced Rohit Shetty barely reads the news, or if he does, he doesn’t care – because the premise, plot and even the dialogue of Simmba sounds a lot like a 2 hour 45 minute-long justification of Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Encounter Pradesh’. If the system doesn’t work, “Thok do (shoot them)”.
The only way to enjoy Rohit Shetty films is by leaving your principles and values at the popcorn counter. The movies are predictable and reinforce stereotypes, but Shetty realises that the country is fatigued of being politically correct and needs an escape. That’s why Ranveer Singh as Sangram Bhalerao – a corrupt police officer who rediscovers his virtues after a girl he keeps calling his sister gets raped – is an easy sell. What’s better than a reformed cop to restore your faith in the vardi (uniform), in men (who don’t rape, but protect), and in the triumph of good versus evil.
We like to watch men, or groups of men, walk away from cars as they explode – it’s our cinematic equivalent of a phoenix rising from the ashes, sunglasses, strut and all. The success of movies like Simmba also rests significantly on self-referential throwbacks. We know that Ajay Devgn as Singham is going to make an appearance, and we can even guess when, and yet the entire theatre erupts into cheers when he breaks into the scene.
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Those that Simmba protects – the women, including Sara Ali Khan – are mere window dressings for a very long, and badly edited, cock-and-bull fight. The trouble is that Rohit Shetty assumes you don’t pay attention to his movies, or may be you just have bad memory because he allows his main protagonist to make a rape joke moments before he declares rape to be the absolute worst crime in the world.
For a while, you forget that Sara Ali Khan is even in the film, until she makes a sudden reappearance to worry about her hubby’s career. As an aspiring actor, Khan must step down from the pedestal her lineage grants her – she’s still Sara Ali Khan in the movie, poised as the girl next door with an air of royalty about her.
Simmba fits the age-old adage about men driving big cars – they feel like they need to compensate for something else, when they really don’t. The size of your gun doesn’t determine how masculine you are, but Shetty still seems to be stuck in the past. Repeated references to ‘manhood’, ‘honour’ ‘duty’ and the worn-out ‘what if she was your daughter’ are frustrating. The film also seems to believe that the value of a woman comes from the relationship she has to men – sister, daughter, mother.
The slow-motion fight sequences, loud colours, interspersed humour, and energetic background score are Simmba’s only saving graces – It’s not a bad movie to see, it’s just a terrible movie to watch.
In the end, Shetty essentially does to his plot what Ranveer Singh’s character does to his criminals – “If you don’t know what to do, just shoot it in the head.”