Not a huge fan of Rohit Shetty’s style of cinema and not among those who were impressed with the trailer of his latest offering, Simmba, I nevertheless decided to spend my hard earned money and watch the film to understand what all the hullabaloo was about. Little did I know that I was about to subject myself to 159 minutes of sheer irony.
The problem is not with the story. We’ve seen the bad-cop-goes through-a-life-changing-incident-and-becomes-a-good-cop routine many times in the past, most notably during the ’80s, to know that it’s a waste of time and energy to offer any critique. The problem is also not with the larger than life action because it’s alright to magnify reality when one is gearing to present his/her work on 70 mm. I would even go as far as to ignore the lazily packaged characters, the half-baked dialogues and the unflattering camera angles.
However, you know you’re out of concessions to give when the film – in virtually every frame – contradicts its own self.
What Is Simmba About?
If you’ve seen the trailer, you would know that the film revolves around a police officer who is happy being corrupt until the masters that he serves, rape a school teacher that he reveres as his own sister.
That one incident becomes a turning point in his life and he vows to avenge her rape and consequent death even if that means going against the tide.
That Sounds Quite Noble, No?
Of course it sounds noble when you explain it on the paper. But sitting through the entire movie makes you go through an array of emotions directed towards Simmba’s makers. They range from anger to absolute disgust!
Given its synopsis, the whole point of the movie should have been to highlight the plight of rape victims and survivors and how the power dynamics almost always go against them. Given its synopsis, the film should have been about empowering the abused and giving them the courage to fight for the justice that has been denied to them for far too long.
However, if anything, Simmba is about glorifying the macho-ness of the male lead, emphasizing that women on their own are incapable of fighting for their rights and worse still, reiterating the misbelief that a woman’s most important role is to serve as a man’s source of entertainment.
For a film themed around rape, the female characters in Simmba are shockingly neglected. At best, they have been given a handful of emotional lines to mouth and at worst they are scantily dressed and made to dance provocatively.
What About the Acting and Technical Presentation?
Ranveer Singh is okay. Sonu Sood is quite alright. For all her education, Sara Ali Khan should be ashamed of herself for signing a film that not merely demeans women at large but one that also demeans her as an actress.
There is really nothing extraordinary to write home about as far as cinematography, editing, dialogues or for that matter any other technical department is concerned.
I would like to dedicate a few lines to the director though: Rohit Shetty is either a callous and utterly insensitive soul himself or he is among those who believe that it is alright to compromise on principles in favour of money. In either case, he lacks the attributes that embody basic human decency and respect for important – and horrendously traumatic – social ills.
Simmba is one of the most dubious and irresponsible films to have come out of Bollywood this year. It is a disservice to the cause that it pretends to crusade for and it is a disservice to the art of filmmaking. The sad part is that despite being a complete fraud, Simmba will likely end-up a blockbuster.
If you still haven’t seen it, please do yourself a favour and stay away!