A true masala film, Simmba sees Ranveer Singh transform into an impudent, charismatic and corrupt policeman who the film follows after he is transferred to Goa and befriends local gang lord Durva Ranade (Sonu Sood).

Singh dons a Marathi accent and an incredible moustache in his role as Sangram ‘Simmba’ Bhalerao, whose charisma combined with his immorality keeps audiences on their toes.

Once in Goa, Simmba is received with open arms by most of his new police team. In between minting money and breaking bones, he also falls in love with Shagun (Sara Ali Khan), who runs a catering service next to his police station. At the same time, Simmba also finds a little sister-like figure in Aakruti, a 19-year-old medical student who runs a school for orphans.

The plot truly kicks in when Aakruti, on a tip from one of her students, ends up in a bar where Durva’s brothers are smuggling drugs. She records everything on her mobile phone, but ends up getting caught and is raped by two of Durva’s brothers and dies.

Simmba vows to avenge Aakruti’s death, setting up a conflict between him and the film’s true antagonist, Durva.

Despite the fact that Simmba centres on the protagonist seeking revenge for Aakruti’s sexual assault and death, the film does not treat its female characters well.

Sara Ali Khan is under-utilised in the film, with a screen presence of half an hour at most during the three-hour film. Shagun is mostly missing from the movie in the second half, before conveniently appearing just before it ends. Khan brings grace and spunk to the movie even with her limited screen time, but the director could have created a much stronger female character.

It is Singh’s energy that keeps the rather cliche story alive. Whether he is dancing on his way to a club, a raid or to impress the antagonist’s mother, Sindh does it all with enthusiasm. Sood too out did his role in the hit film Dabangg, in which he also played the antagonist, and won applause from the audience.

The film also features a special appearance from Ajay Devgan, as no-nonsense police officer Singham, and it would not be a stretch to say that his entry saves the film from dragging along and keeps the audience glued to their seats for the last half hours.

In terms of how it looks, director Rohit Shetty has done justice to the movie and incorporates and tried-and-tested masala film formula. The cinematography is captivating, as are the action sequences, and the witty one-liners in the first half keep the dialogue interesting.

That said, the film suffers from the insertion of too many songs, its focus on #MeToo is half-baked, and its female characters are meek and confined to the kitchen. The story uses Aakruti’s rape and murder as a mere plot point to turn Simmba into a ‘good’ character, while sidelining women in the film.

Although women have been incorporated into most scenes, playing police officials, judges and relatives, they are overshadowed by the men. In all, the social message the film is trying to portray comes across as dishonest, serving only as a plot device rather than being sensitively portrayed to deliver a powerful message.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2019

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