Simmba Review (No Spoilers): Light-Dark-Light-Dark

Fun movie! Great movie to take other people with me to watch. A little bit darker than you might expect for a little bit longer than you might expect, but mostly okay.

Let me get the elephant in the room out of the way first: Ranveer had far more sexual chemistry with Ajay than with Sara. And even more chemistry with Sonu Sood than with Ajay. This was partly distracting and amusing, but partly a symptom of a bigger problem with Ranveer’s performance, he tended to be more about entertaining the audience than relating to his co-stars. Which isn’t a movie-ruining tendency, but it was the most notable way he failed to be all that he could be as a hero. In a Rohit Shetty style entertainer, it can be surprisingly difficult to both “entertain” and interact. The “entertain” part is far more important so Ranveer works delightfully well by just focusing on that, but when he was opposite a strong scene partner with strong dialogue that forced him to “interact” as well, suddenly things went to a whole new level.

Image result for ranveer singh sonu sood

…and then they make out

Luckily this film gave him a fair number of strong screen partners and good dialogue. An action film like this is far more about the hero-villain relationship than the hero-heroine. So Sonu Sood is good casting, strong screen presence and experienced in these kinds of parts. And there was a nice surprise of another strong presence, Ashutosh Rana as the head constable, the honest man who tries to mentor and correct Ranveer. And then Ajay to bring it on home at the end.

Ranveer’s performance leans a little heavily on the “entertainment at all costs” side of things, but the film as a whole is surprisingly dark. Well, surprisingly dark for the kind of silly entertainer it looks like in the posters. It’s even literally dark, Shetty’s obsession with color filters has him going from blinding over-saturated colors or most of the first half, to sudden darkness and greyness for the pre and post-interval scenes, and then light-dark-light-dark-light-dark scene by scene for the rest of the film. It’s a little hard to process, the jumping back and forth, runs the risk of audience whiplash.

Image result for simmba poster

I think Shetty (and Ranveer) pull it off, but just barely. Ranveer is a hair too big in the way he plays the comic bits (although entertainingly so) and hair to flat and serious in the way he plays the Action Hero parts. And the plot itself goes sooooooooooo dark at the interval that it is hard to connect it to the rest of the film, the light-light that proceeds it. I think it works, in the end, because the second half never does get quite as bright as the first half. Yes, there are some really silly fight scenes, and Ranveer has some great one liners, but ultimately the character and the film are changed enough that it feels like the interval moments had the appropriate impact.

Now, let’s talk about Rape! Normally I wouldn’t reveal a plot point in a no-spoilers review, but it already came up in the trailers and there are already think-pieces out there about what it all means, and I know some of you were considering avoiding the film because of this part of it. And yes, rape is a plot point.

But, for me, it is handled appropriately. It’s not glamorized in any way, and the importance isn’t downplayed. This goes back to my main point, the poster promised a light happy film so maybe you thought the rape section would be minimized to keep it light and happy. No, it is really quite dark, to the point that it almost unbalances the film.

The biggest thing I like is that, for once, young women get to be a part of a discussion about their own rape. Over and over in these movies, rape is a bad thing because of what it does to the grieving father or angry brother. It is between two men with the woman used as a weapon against one or the other. In this film, the victim is attacked because of who she is, not because of any man related to her, her assault belongs to her. And much more importantly, in the final scenes of the film it is two other young women who voice their fears of being attacked and inspire the final actions. I didn’t even think about it until I saw it happen, but we never see this in rape movies. It is always framed as “think about how you would feel if this happened to your daughter/sister/girlfriend”. Not “think about how this would feel if it happened to you”.

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2 thoughts on “Simmba Review (No Spoilers): Light-Dark-Light-Dark

    • If you like homoerotic tension between overly muscular men in tight fitting shirts, than this is the film for you!!!!

      Oh, and there are also some wrestling moves in the fight scenes, just for fun.

      On Sun, Jan 13, 2019 at 11:53 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

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