Hansal Mehta's Simran is about Praful Patel (Kangana Ranaut), who works as a housekeeper in a hotel in Atlanta. She stays with her parents, Mohan (Hiten Kumar) and Kumud (Kishori Shahane). Her parents are trying to set her up with Sameer (Sohum Shah). During a trip to Las Vegas, Praful loses not just her own financial savings in gambling, but also a significant amount that she had borrowed from a usurious money lender. Desperate circumstances force her to take desperate measures, and she resorts to looting small banks to pay back her debt.
The film takes its title from the character Simran, played by Kajol, from Aditya Chopra's iconic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. At some point in Simran, Praful is about to leave her house to rob yet another bank to pay back the money she borrowed from Mr. Bugs. Praful's mother is watching the climax scene from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge where Simran is begging her Bauji to let her go with Raj. Bauji relents and tells her, "Ja, Simran, Ja. Jee le apni zindagi." It is as if Bauji's words are a direction to Praful who is also waiting to go and do her task of stealing from the bank. Moments later, when Praful leaves the house, her mother mistakenly calls her Simran. Later, when Praful reaches the bank, an employee asks her to open a bank account with them. On being asked her name, Praful can only think of Simran as her fake name. The name eventually reaches the police, who inform the public at large, that the lipstick bandit's name is Simran.
In addition to the name, there is also a larger context to the connection between Praful from Simran and Simran from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. They share a few other things, too. They belong to Non-Resident Indian (NRI) families. Simran's father owns a department store in London; Praful's father owns a store where he sells Gujarati snacks. Simran and Praful have a frigid relationship with their respective fathers, but have a friendly and a frank relationship with their respective mothers. Simran and Praful feel trapped and restricted in some way in their homes. Simran is bound by the strict rules that her father has imposed upon her. She had to literally pray to the Gods to get her father's permission to go on a trip to Europe. On the trip, she falls in love with a philandering Raj. When her father gets to know about Raj, he immediately sells off all his possessions and moves to Punjab, where he wants to marry Simran off to his friend's son. Praful's father keeps reminding her that she is a divorced woman and constantly nags her to get married again. He likes to find faults in Praful, which makes her want to move out and have a house of her own. Early in the film, Praful's daily life is shown with the background song that talks about this freedom. It says, "Pinjra tod ke tod ke, udd jaana hai. Baahein khol ke, khol ke, udd jaana hai." The cages have to be broken to fly away; the arms have to be opened to fly away.
In Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, there is a scene where Simran's grandmother tells Bauji that she has seen some sadness in Simran's eyes. She is worried that there is a certain hesitation even in Simran's laughter as if something is bothering her from inside. Not wanting to reveal the full details of Simran's unhappiness, Bauji dismisses her concerns and tells her that Simran is fine. There is a similar scene in Simran that happens between Praful and her grandmother. She meets her grandmother at her cousin's wedding, who asks Praful that why does she have a half smile. Praful responds that it is a full smile. Her grandmother, then, asks that if her smile is full, why does it not reach her eyes. Aankhon tak toh nahi pahunchi. Thus, the film shows another connection between the two films. In Simran's script, which was released by Apurva Asrani, the first scene of the film is written at a train station that is again quite reminiscent of the first time Raj meets Simran in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, where Simran almost missed her train to Europe. A cheeky Raj had offered his hand to Simran so that she can enter the train. An almost similar sequence is present in the Simran's script. Hearing an announcement on the train station, Praful takes off her shoes, holds them in her hand, and runs towards a train. Praful runs, sticks her foot in the closing door and barely makes it inside before the train door is closed.
Even though Simran and Praful have quite a few things in common, the one major difference is Praful has no Raj with her, and after a bitter divorce, she feels she does not even need any Raj in her life. The film Simran repeatedly stresses on the independence of Praful and her comfort in being alone (not to be confused with being lonely). Early in the film, Praful, and her cousin Amber go on a trip to Las Vegas. Amber had invited her ex-boyfriend as well, due to which Praful leaves the two of them, and roams around Las Vegas all by herself. Praful is completely fine doing that, in fact, she enjoys being by herself. Later, Amber tells Praful that she is getting married because we cannot spend our life all alone. Praful replies that she herself is also single but she is doing absolutely fine in life. Amber, then, tells her that she is different and independent. Praful responds to her that she is a thirty-year-old divorced woman, who works as a housekeeper, while Amber is twenty-five-year-old jewelry designer; how is it that she is more independent than her? Praful is struggling to make ends meet, yet, she feels independent. Her cousin, blessed with money and a good career, does not feel like that. Independence is not only financial independence, but also emotional independence. Later, we again see Praful enjoying the state of being happily unmarried. After she wins money at a casino, she buys a red dress (like Simran did in Zara Sa Jhoom Loon Main). She eats at fancy restaurants all alone. She goes to the top floor of the hotel and admires the bird's eye view of the city with a glass of champagne in her hand. She is truly content. In the latter parts of the film, she never shares her problems with anyone. She plans everything on her own.
Praful meets Sameer, who is interested in getting married to her. In their meeting, Praful asks him the reasons for getting married. He tells her that he wants to get married because he is alone and he wants a life partner to spend his life with. Praful snarkily replies that marriage is not the solution for his problems. In one of the most beautiful scenes in the film, Sameer and Praful again talk about life and love. During their chat, Sameer says that if a person is given too many responsibilities from a young age, he becomes a little hollow from inside, but when he looks at Praful, he feels how can anyone be so complete in oneself. Koi apne aap me itna sampoorn kaise ho sakta hai. He is again bringing out the same aspect of Praful's contentment in being alone, without needing anyone. At some later stage, Praful takes Sameer to her favorite place, near a lake, where she tells him that she comes there alone. The place makes her feel that she has tiny wings, like those of a butterfly, which makes her believe that she can fly. The air there is totally free, and no obstacle can bind the air there. Like the song's lyrics earlier, "Pinjra tod ke tod ke, udd jaana hai. Baahein khol ke, khol ke, udd jaana hai," Praful wants to be completely free, like a bird, and live life independently on her own terms.
Sameer was undoubtedly my favorite character in the film. He understands people and relationships. It seems that he has gone through a lot in life, too. And, then, he completely surprises by his selfless act of transferring his hard-earned money that he saved for his studies to Praful's account even though she did even not ask him to do so. I am always stunned by these selfless acts, where people do these gestures and expect nothing in return. He had said earlier to Praful, "Rishton ko samajhna nahi chahiye, unhe sirf nibhaana chahiye." One should not try to understand relationships, instead one should fulfill them. Sameer, truly, did that when it came to giving all to his relationships.
The film falters in the second half where it is unable to decide whether it should be serious, or it should be funny. The robberies become repetitive and some proceedings become silly. But the film does show well the suburban America, which is a lot different from New York and San Francisco as seen in other films. It touches on the challenges minority communities face in America. Also, the film is, perhaps, a rare case in Hindi cinema where the Patels in Simran are not financially well-off as compared to the other Patel families in films.
There are many scenes where it becomes harder to separate the character Praful from the actor Kangana. At one point, Praful says, "Karti hun main galtiyaan, aur maanti bhi hun. Aap logon ke tarah, khud se jhooth nahi bolti." She says that she makes mistakes, but she also has the courage to accept them; something that Kangana has also spoken about in her interviews. Whatever be the other issues (external and internal) with the film, it has yet another splendid performance by Kangana. She is a truly a Queen.
Nahin toh picture itni badi hit nahi hoti
I love that movie
Kajol meri favorite thee
Books In Movies:
The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera
Jane Austen's Emma for its character Emma.
1. Simran's script—Link
2. On Queen—Link
Dialogue of the Day:
"Mujhe lagta hai ki kabhi insaan ko puri tarah se samjha nahi ka sakta. Kyunki badalte rehna hi inssan ki fidrat hai. Change is the only constant. Aur mujhe lagta hai, rishton ko samajhna nahi chahiye, unhe sirf nibhaana chahiye."