Entertainment

‘Simmba’ review: Nothing woke about this problematic entertainer

A still from the movie ‘Simmbaa’

A still from the movie ‘Simmbaa’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Keep quiet and read what other women have to say - that was one rule many set for themselves as stories of #MeToo were shared online. Why create needless noise when you have nothing substantial to contribute to the debate but much to assimilate, absorb and process from the experiences of others? It is also the rule that one would want to wave at the boys' club behind Simmba — don’t try to wear that feminist hat just to capitalise on the mood of the times, it just doesn’t fit. Their brand of woke film is nothing more than a self-righteous marriage of a heinous crime like rape with the unbridled vigilante-cop angle of the Singham franchisee. The result is a blockbuster of an “entertainer” that is problematic, dishonest and infuriating at more than one level.

Simmba
  • Director: Rohit Shetty
  • Starring: Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan, Sonu Sood, Ashutosh Rana
  • Storyline: It takes a rape to change the heart of a corrupt cop who is otherwise in the force for nothing more than wielding power and making money
  • Run time: 159 minutes

It kicks off on a comic note with Ranveer Singh scorching the screen as Sangram Bhalerao aka Simmba who joins the force to wield power and make money. The background score stays consistently ear-blasting, the colours kitschy, and the acting loud and over-the-top. With his Marathi chatter, comic timing, sharp catchphrases iterated in both Marathi and Hindi — “Mind ij blowing”, “Tell me something I don’t know” — and a manic touch reminiscent of the Khilji madness, Singh brings the house down with his one-man show. He is quite a cracker in the drinking scene with subordinate Nityanand Mohile (Ashutosh Rana) and while crooning the new lyrics to the golden oldie, “Tu Hi Re”.

Till he plays the joker the show is bearable, but things take a turn for the worse with the introduction of a rape sequence. For one, there is the stress on how dangerous the world is for “Bharat ki betiyan (India’s daughters)” and how they need to be protected. Instead of treating things with nuance and sensitivity, the rape of a woman becomes all about a man. It awakens the cop’s conscience and helps him separate the right from the wrong. It becomes a play of male egos — be it that of the rapist or the cop whose sister’s rape is like his own “izzat par hamla”. Simmba is yet another film that calls for doling out instant, brutal mob justice in the name of offering a collective catharsis. In the process it also ends up eulogising the brute force of the police and encounter killings to boot.

Actors Ranveer Singh and Sara Ali Khan with director Rohit Shetty

Actors Ranveer Singh and Sara Ali Khan with director Rohit Shetty   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

It is ironic to see women sidelined in this 80s rape-revenge drama with Sara Ali Khan's role being that of a glorified extra despite her being the female lead. The women are made witnesses than participants of their own destinies, parroting the men without showing any ounce of agency. Even worse, a woman judge has the gumption to call a mother who has outed her rapist sons as “gunahgaar (culprit)” for bringing them up the way she has. Blame the women for everything!

Be it as brutal violators or patronising saviours of women, Simmba shows that it all boils down to the same toxic masculinity which the men behind Simmba have been perpetuating film after film. There is a saying in Hindi: “Sau choohe khake billi haj ko chali (After eating a hundred rats the cat goes on a pilgrimage)”. Need I say more?

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 1:58:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/simmba-review-nothing-woke-about-this-problematic-entertainer/article25849683.ece

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