Kangana Ranaut’s Simran and Apurva Asrani’s script: An honest comparison
How different is Kangana Ranaut’s Simran from what Apurva Asrani wrote? With the original script before us, we decided to compare the two.bollywood Updated: Sep 21, 2017 09:43 IST
The last about Simran, Kangana Ranaut and its million controversies has not been written yet. Beyond the first looks and trailers, the first we heard about this Hansal Mehta film was a raging controversy over its writing credits. When the first teaser of Simran gave credit to Kangana for “additional story and dialogues”, script writer and ediotr Apurva Asrani was far from amused.
Taking to Facebook almost immediately, Apurva had taken umbrage over the fact that Kangana was not only given the credit, she had also alleged that she was the one who turned this “dark and gritty thriller” into a “light, fun film” and the fact that she was approached by Hansal with just “one line screenplay”. A lot has been written about the war of words that ensued but now is the time that we can judge for ourselves what Apurva wrote and what finally emerged on screen.
Hindustan Times compared the original script of Simran with the final product that Kangana’s film was. Given that most critics applauded Kangana’s performance while finding faults with the film’s uneven storyline and one-dimensional supporting cast, we especially looked at those aspects in the original script.
But for those who come in late, here are the bare bones of the controversy: Apurva claimed that Simran was based on his script with Kangana only adding inputs that any actor does in the course of making a film. Kangana , however, said she added new layers to the film. In her own words: “Nobody can take away from the fact that if Simran today is a story of a divorced woman, it’s entirely introduced by me. If the film has feminist undercurrents, I included that. The father-daughter track, the lover’s track in the film—these are subplots that I added.”
Apurva Asrani, talking about the changes introduced to his script, said, “While I painstakingly created the character and I stand by it, there is always room for improvisation in my script. Actors like Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkummar Rao have added very interesting things to my vision. But as the writer, I must see that the final draft of the script is cohesive and even-toned.” He also said he stood by the film, “With all its imperfections and its flaws, it is fresh, entertaining and has a great performance by Kangana.”
The director himself, meanwhile, backed his film. “Yes, I am guilty. Guilty of crediting individuals who contribute to making my films very special to many of us. Call me names, as many names as you want. But in your desperation to seek attention and gain sympathy do not try to harm my film,” he earlier tweeted.
So, without more delay, here is what we found when we compared Simran’s script to Simran the film.
Praful and her dad
Simran’s lead Praful Patel (played by Kangana) hates her father. We see her venting out her anger at her dad many a times without understanding her reasons. The only time it is explained in the film is when he taunts her for being a divorcee and a financial burden on him. In all other sequences, we see an angry Kangana ranting with her father having nothing to say.
The initial script, however, has many father-daughter sequences where Praful talks about her father’s absence in her life. Praful spent 17 years of her life away from the father before she shifted to the US. “Inhone humme nahin, aapko bulaya. Main to chipak ke aayi thi na aapke saath,” Praful tells her mom in the original script.
The final version of the film shows us a few shots of Praful doing her day job – that of a housekeeper at a hotel. But while the film focuses on her interactions with her co-workers, Apurva’s script gives enough space for the monotony of Praful’s work to build up – there are several scenes where she is simply cleaning toilet bowls and making beds in the original version. It goes a long way to explain what pushed Praful over the edge.
Praful and her mom
The film shows Praful fighting one and all around her, including her mom. In fact, the film sidelines the mother to a mere prop of patriarchal mindset. The original script, however, had Praful and her mother as best friends. There are several scenes where the mom offers her an emotional support to her and, at times, even fights for her with the father. The initial script had several interactions between the parents and Praful, providing a platform for the other side to be explained. These interactions could have made the narrative more coherent and the supporting characters more than cardboard cut-outs.
Praful’s sexual independence is something that the film has and the script doesn’t and the film’s richer for it. We saw a self-assured Praful who does not shy away from sexual encounters and flaunts her boyfriends as trophy – she evens jokes ‘If you are a good girl, you will get one boyfriend, if you are a bad girl then you will get many’ quoting a cool mother.
The original script had none of this. The changes have made Praful modern and unapologetic about her sexuality. Praful’s vehement no to ‘unsafe sex’ in Las Vegas was also not there in the original script. Apurva’s script showed Praful as a quirky, argumentative but essentially a simple character whose circumstances and story make her extraordinary.
What the script also explores is Praful’s frustration at not being able to raise the money to pay back the loan. She begs friends and relatives and no one helps her. At one point, she also tries to steal from her father, after which she loses her head at the gas station and decides to rob the first bank. In the film, the bank robbery happens without exploring Praful’s state of mind deeply.
The bank robberies
In the script, the Praful researches the robberies properly. She only goes to banks where the crowd is thin, or she chooses a time when the change of the guard happens, and there is a 15-minute gap in the security. The Atlanta Police also exist in the screenplay, and at one point, Praful is chased by a police vehicle, but manages to give them the slip. And because her car may have been identified, she goes to a pound and has the vehicle destroyed.
What we see onscreen was not exactly this. There are montages of shots where Praful checks out a bank before entering, but there is no detailed research that goes into planning the robberies. In the film, the robberies add to film’s comic flavour and not its heft. Also the police are practically non-existent till the climax.
Characters around the protagonist
Simran has both been lauded and berated for keeping Kangana first. While many called it a showreel for the actress, others termed it her best performance. However, in the midst of it all we missed a supporting cast that could have made the film more relatable and meaningful.
Apurva’s original script, on the other hand, gave ample amount of dialogues and screenspace to Praful’s friends, parents and even co-workers, thus establishing a connection with her situation and the character itself.
Another brilliant addition to the original was about the racial discrimination and xenophobia Indians face in the US. The original script did not have the scene where the bank officer tells Praful, while informing that her loan has been rejected, “People like you don’t borrow money, they steal”.
But the original screenplay does have a scene where Praful robs a bank and a guard enters hearing the alarm. He gets confused seeing both Praful and an African-American man at the door, allowing Praful to make her escape. While this did not make to the film, a discussion about the robber being Middle-Eastern/Muslim from the original draft was retained.