Simran (actress)

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At JFW 2021 Awards Event.jpg
Simran at JFW 2021 Awards
Rishibhala Naval

(1976-04-04) 4 April 1976 (age 45)[1][2]
  • Actress
  • producer
  • dancer
  • model
Years active1995 – present
Deepak Bagga
(m. 2003)

Simran Bagga (born Rishibhala Naval; 4 April 1976), known mononymously as Simran, is an Indian film actress, producer, classical dancer, model, and television personality. She has predominantly appeared in Tamil and Telugu films, as well as a few films in Hindi, Malayalam, and Kannada. She is well noted for her dancing and acting skills in the Indian film industry. In her long movie career, she has won three Filmfare Awards South, one Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress, three Cinema Express Awards, two Kalaimamani Awards, several regional awards and nominations.

Although Simran initially aspired to become a fashion designer, she accepted offers to join the Indian film industry, which came as a result of her fame as an anchor in the show Superhit Muqabla. Having acted in a few Hindi films, she later achieved her first success with Tere Mere Sapne (1996) alongside Arshad Warsi. Subsequently, she made her debut in South Indian cinema through the Malayalam film Indraprastham (1996) and Kannada film Simhada Mari (1997). In the same year, she debuted in Tamil through V. I. P. (1997) and was followed by a string of commercial successes in her early career. In 1999, Simran received critical praise in the Tamil films Thulladha Manamum Thullum (1999) and Vaali (1999), establishing herself as the most successful actress in Tamil cinema at the time. At the peak of her career she agreed to play the role of an antagonist in Parthen Rasithen (2000) and a suffering woman from a premarital agreement in Priyamaanavale (2000), both went on to become commercial and critical successes.

Simran received her first Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Actress for Kannathil Muthamittal (2002),[3] as the mother of an adopted 9-year-old daughter. Simran had also appeared in two comedy films alongside Kamal Haasan; Pammal K. Sambandam and Panchathantiram, both released in 2002. In Telugu, Simran starred in a series of commercially successful films; Samarasimha Reddy (1999), Kalisundam Raa (2000) and Narasimha Naidu (2001), and for latter both, she received Filmfare Award for Best Telugu Actress nomination. Simran left the film industry following her marriage with her childhood family friend Deepak Bagga in 2004.[4] In 2008, she made a comeback to Tamil cinema with Vaaranam Aayiram, where she played a mother and a wife to the characters played by Suriya and won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.[5]

Personal life and background[edit]

Simran was born as Rishibhala Naval to Punjabi parents in Mumbai; her father is Ashok Naval and mother is Sharda. Simran has two sisters, Monal and Jyothi Naval, and a brother named Sumith.[citation needed] She did her schooling from St. Anthony's high school, Versova and finished her B.Com in Mumbai. She speaks Punjabi, Hindi, English, Tamil and Telugu. Simran is a trained dancer and can perform Bharatanatyam and Salsa.[citation needed]

She married Deepak Bagga, her childhood family friend in 2003. They have two sons, Adheep and Aadit.[6][7][8] Deepak made a cameo appearance in Kicha Vayasu 16.[9]


Debut and breakthrough (1995–1997)[edit]

Simran made her debut in the 1995 Hindi-language film Sanam Harjai, directed by Saawan Kumar. It was the first Indian film to be shot in New Zealand and Simran stayed and shot abroad for three months,[10] though the film was disaster at box office.[11] Jaya Bachchan saw Simran presenting the show Superhit Muqabla on Doordarshan's Metro channel, and subsequently offered her a leading role in her production, the romantic drama Tere Mere Sapne (1996); she particularly became known for the hit song Aankh Marey opposite co-star Arshad Warsi. Simran then starred in supporting roles in Muqaddar, Angaara and Daadagiri; Bal Bramhachari, Agni Morcha, Gunda Gardi opposite Aditya Pancholi, Ayub Khan and along with Dharmendra.[12] Meanwhile, she has been acting in South Indian languages and was a huge star in Tamil and Telugu cinema.

Her first South Indian film was the Malayalam film Indraprastham opposite Mammootty. In 1997, she appeared in her Kannada debut Simhada Mari, opposite Shivarajkumar. Prior to her debut in Tamil films, Simran was associated with two projects which failed to materialize in 1996, Parthiepan's Soththukatchi and Bharathiraja's Siragugal Murivadhillai.[13]

Her Tamil cinema debut was in 1997, marked with films Once More and V. I. P.. But she signed her first Tamil movie with multi-starrer Nerukku Ner. Yet the former two projects were released prior to the release of Nerukku Ner and earned her recognition.

In Once More she played the love-interest of Vijay along with veteran actors Sivaji Ganesan and Saroja Devi directed by S. A. Chandrasekhar. The film was a box office hit and stated that the film was a commercial family entertainer.[14] And in V. I. P. she was seen opposite Prabhu Deva along with Abbas and Rambha, directed by D. Sabhapathi. The song "Minnal Oru Kodi" picturized with Prabhu Deva and Simran becoming a chartbuster and all-time hit for the actors. The film had no scope of performance and a critic noted as "Thankfully, not much is required from Abbas or Simran in the acting department."[15] Both the movies emerged her to fetch Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut – South for the year. For Nerukku Ner she played opposite to Suriya (in his debut) and produced by director Mani Ratnam.[16]

Success and stardom (1998–1999)[edit]

Following successful debuts in Tamil and Telugu films, in 1998 she had her first release in K. S. Ravikumar's Kondattam, opposite Arjun, which is a commercial failure.[17] But she tasted the success in her other successful movies such as Natpukkaga (1998), Aval Varuvala (1998) and Kannedhirey Thondrinal (1998) with leading actors Sarath Kumar, Ajith Kumar and Prashanth respectively.

In Natpukkaga, she again team up with director K. S. Ravikumar paired opposite Sarath Kumar, the movie won several awards including Filmfare Award for Best Film – Tamil. Simran's role as modern belle Prabavati who takes revenge on Chinnayya (Sarath Kumar) for her mother's murder was praised by reviewers.[18] Another success with Ajith Kumar in Aval Varuvala, a Tamil remake of the 1997 Telugu film Pelli.[19] Her role as women suffers from adultery by her husband, was well received by the critics, "Simran proves that she can act too and most of her lip-sync is appreciable".[20] Her next film was Kannedhirey Thondrinal directed by Ravichandran. For the first time, she paired with Prashanth. The success of the movie later led them to be paired in successful movies like Jodi, Parthen Rasithen and Thamizh. Her positive feedback got critical acclaim for her performance. She also appeared in a supporting role with Akkineni Nagarjuna and Deepti Bhatnagar in Telugu Movie Auto Driver a commercial failure.

In 1999 all her movies became highly successful ventures and the year was the luckiest for the actress. Her first Tamil release for the year is Thulladha Manamum Thullum, opposite Vijay. The film had a theatrical run for more than 200 days in theatres at Tamil Nadu. As a blind woman, she was highly appreciated for her performance in the film. She received Tamil Nadu State Award for Best Actress. Behindwoods noted her performance as one of the best blind roles ever played by an actor in Tamil cinema.[21] The film was later remade in Telugu as Nuvvu Vastavani and she reprised her role again on the requisition of the actor Akkineni Nagarjuna. Her next release opposite Ajith Kumar is Vaali, it tells the story of Deva and Shiva, two look-alike siblings, with Deva being deaf and dumb. When Shiva marries his sweetheart Priya, Deva becomes obsessed with and lusts for Priya (played by Simran). The New Indian Express labelled Simran's portrayal as "Outstanding".[22] The film ran for more than 200 days and was a box office hit.[23][24][25] Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan dated 16 May 1999 praised the film by giving 45 marks and mentioned "Simran proved that she can act well than her contemporaries".[26] for which she won Cinema Express Award for Best Actress – Tamil.[27] She revealed that after working on the film, she became "alert in her choice of films", only signing ventures which had big production banners.[28] Another successful feather in her cap is Jodi, with Prashanth. The film opened in September 1999 to positive reviews and became an average. Her role joyful Brahmin girl appreciated by critics.[29] Her next film was Kanave Kalaiyadhe with Murali, in which she played dual roles as bubbly Punjabi girl falls for south Indian boy (played by Murali) and a matured south Indian Brahmin girl, also gained mixed reviews. This is the only film where she played a dual role in her entire cinema career. Kannupada Poguthaiya with Vijayakanth was her next where she played a village belle who forced to marry the brother of the man she loves, which was an average. She then played a woman left alone in a joint family in Time opposite Prabhu Deva. The same year she did "Thottu Thottu Pesum" in Edhirum Pudhirum and "Maana Madhura" in Anthapuram items numbers and both were chartbusters.

In Telugu her only release for the year is Samarasimha Reddy, opposite Balakrishna was recorded as an All Time Industry Hit at the box office. Over the years, the movie was termed to be a trendsetter and achieved cult status[30][31][32][33]

Same year Simran acted opposite Govinda in Hindi Film Anari No.1. Also, she was part of Bollywood films such as Kachche Dhaage and Sirf Tum. She made another supporting role in 2000 film Khauff with Manisha Koirala and Sanjay Dutt. Simran rejected the role in Mani Rathnam's Dil Se.. which later played by Preity Zinta.[34]

Widespread success and critical acclaim (2000–2004)[edit]

Her success continued in 2000 with Tamil with films Priyamaanavale again with Vijay and Parthen Rasithen again with Prashanth. In Priyamaanavale, she played a suffering woman from a premarital agreement was gained wide appreciation for her role. Her performance was labelled by cinematoday as "a clean family entertainer that with its Indian culture-versus foreign culture theme would appeal to family audiences" and mentioned that "the script is cleverly crafted", and that "Vijay neatly underplayed his role with Simran as the perfect foil."[35][36] In Parthen Rasithen, a romantic thriller which was released on 11 August 2000, and received positive critical reception, she portrayed the role of an antagonist for the first time in her career. The film also saw a third collaboration between Simran and Prashanth following Kannedhirey Thondrinal and Jodi. Simran's performance received unanimous critical acclaim. Also, Prashanth and Simran received Best Onscreen Couple Award in Cinema Express Award.[37] Hindu wrote "It is a spectacular role for Simran and she has made optimum use of it. A well-etched character that is suspenseful at every turn. Simran's eyes sparkle with animus, jealousy and venom in the scene in which she confronts Laila. Laila as the docile, taciturn beauty is an appealing foil to the fiery and vibrant Simran".[38] Lolluexpress described "This movie really proved that how SIMRAN has been wasted these days. I think the best actress in Kodambakkam today is SIMRAN. After her Strong and Sexy performance in VAALEE Simran has come back with yet another Strong and good role in "Parthen Rasithen". She was the best in this movie. One could really feel her acting in her expressions. It's not that easy for heroines today to do a role like this. Especially her Villain role in the second half of the movie really proved that she is not only a Barbie Doll but a doll which can act.".[39] Critic Balaji noted "Simran is the star of the show here. She proved in Vaali that she was not all glamour but also had the goods when it came to acting and she cements that reputation here. Her expressive eyes speak volumes whether radiating happiness or showing fiery anger and her dialog delivery enhances her performance in the second half. Quite possibly the best performance of her career so far. She also looks beautiful, especially in the dream sequence".[40] In 2013, Vijay Sethupathi was asked about his favourite romantic moments in cinema and what Valentine's Day means to him. He commented that "I've always been a huge admirer of Simran. I loved her in films like V. I. P. , Once More and Parthen Rasithen".[41] Simran's performance was featured in JFW magazine's list of "5 Heroines Who Stunned Us By Playing Negative Roles".[42] Similarly, also listed Simran's portrayal in their list of "The Super Villains of Tamil Cinema" and credited her for the success of the film.[43] Her other release Unnai Kodu Ennai Tharuven opposite Ajith Kumar is a commercial and critical failure. A reviewer from The Hindu citing that "Simran shines in songs and emotional scenes too, though the actress is wasted her dates with such an underwritten film, which hardly makes an impact.".[44]

Her Telugu films Yuvaraju with Mahesh Babu and Goppinti Alludu with Balakrishna were released same year and claimed average grossers in box office. But she received acclaim for her performances in both films. For Yuvaraju referred Simran as "Simran enters the film at the time of interval and dominates the whole second half with her demure and under played emotions. But it's her demure action that won the laurels."[45] called "Coming to heroines they have been used for a glamour boost and they look good. Simran shows her acting talents while Sakshi has nothing to offer in the movie.".[46][47] for Goppinti Alludu, stated "Among three heroines obviously Simran who is looking gorgeous and also emotes well."[48] And she made dance number with Chiranjeevi in Annayya.

But she also had highly successful Kalisundam Raa with Venkatesh and Nuvvu Vastavani with Nagarjuna same year. Nuvvu Vastavani is the Telugu remake of her own Tamil film Thulladha Manamum Thullum where she reprised her role again. Same as Tamil, she received anonymous praise for her performance in Telugu too. Review from fullyhyd noted "Simran looks fabulous and emotes as blind woman more realistically".[49] In National Award winning industry hit Kalisundam Raa, She played the highly egoistic girl Mangaa who sacrifice her love for the sake of her family was also acclaimed. "Simran is so fresh and coming up with a thumb-up performance by overshadowing others she holds the entire film" a critic noted.[50]

In 2001, she concentrated on Telugu films and had a mixed year with Mrugaraju and Daddy, with Chiranjeevi and Bava Nachadu, with Nagarjuna which became poor grossers. Her movie Narasimha Naidu, was with Balakrishna became industry hit and Simran as wife who becomes the victim for her husband's opponent was appreciated and gained her a nomination in Filmfare Award in Telugu Cinema for the first and last time.

In Tamil film Industry She had only two releases. Her first release is directorial debut of cinematographer Jeeva's 12B, opposite then-newcomer Shaam and Jyothika. The plot of the movie is loosely based on the British-American romantic drama film Sliding Doors. Though the film performed modestly at the box office, Simran as "Young widow who has soft-corner on her colleague, struggles to cross her cultural lines" was highly appreciated by critics and audience. The Hindu mentioning that Simran does a commendable job in the climax.[51] concluded Simran continues with her policy of shifting gradually from glam roles to the more sedate, serious ones and proves to have what it takes.[52] Same year she worked with Balachandar in his 100th production venture Paarthale Paravasam paired with Madhavan, tells the story of a couple going through a break-up after the husband is exposed for having a child from a juvenile relationship. Though the movie is commercial failure "Simran" as "Simi" "an obsessed possessive wife" was well received by critics. noted that Simran's performance as "Simran was too good in many places and only because of her the movie has something to watch".[53]

In 2002, she again starred with Balakrishna in Seema Simham, which was an average grosser. Also she did several successful Tamil films; Ramana with Vijayakanth, Pammal K. Sambandam & Panchathantiram with Kamal Haasan, Thamizh with Prashanth. In A. R. Murugadoss directed Ramana She portrayed the wife of a college professor who fights against corruption. The film was received well by critics and audiences and had a cult following. Simran was nominated for Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.

Also, she was cast for Mani Ratnam's Kannathil Muthamittal with Madhavan. The film tells the story of a child of Sri Lankan Tamil parentage adopted by Indian parents, whose desire is to meet her biological mother in the midst of the Sri Lankan Civil War. The film was a box-office success and was received positively by critics at its release. She won several accolades for her performance for Kannathil Muthamittal, including a Filmfare award and also briefly considered for National Film Award for Best Actress, yet she didn't lend her own voice led her to lose it. In an interview with Hindu, Maniratnam stated Simran as one of the most talented female artists he ever worked, along with Manisha Koirala, Aishwarya Rai and Revathi.

At the height of her career, Simran left the film industry after her marriage.

Return to films and television debut (2008–2017)[edit]

After her marriage, Simran took a break from acting in films and moved on to the small screen where she acted in Jaya TV's serial Simran Thirai, which consisted of mini-serials all featuring Simran and included many popular stars such as Ramji, Raaghav, Saakshi Siva and Abitha playing supporting roles. In 2009, she started acting in the Telugu serial Sundarakanda, telecast on Gemini TV, where she did a guest role. The serial was dubbed in Tamil as Sundarakandam and telecast on Polimer TV. In 2012, she hosted Jackpot, a game show on Jaya TV which was earlier hosted by Khushbu Sundar and Nadhiya. She acted in Agni Paravai, a serial telecast in Puthuyugam TV. She serves as one of the judges on the reality show Dance Tamizha Dance in Zee Tamizh.

Simran made a return in 2008 with Okka Magadu, opposite Balakrishna, John Appa Rao 40 plus and Seval. Her role as Suriya's wife and mother in Gautham Menon's Vaaranam Aayiram was critically acclaimed and she won Filmfare and Vijay awards for the same. She starred in the Tamil films TN-07 AL 4777 and Ainthaam Padai in 2009. She made a brief appearance in Aaha Kalyanam in 2014 and Trisha Illana Nayanthara in 2015.[54] In October 2015, Simran and her husband set up a production studio called Simran & Sons, and launched two new film projects.[55]

She made a special appearance in Kannada films Alone in 2016, Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga and Thupparivaalan in 2017 and Odu Raja Odu in 2018. The same year she was approached to play a negative role by Ponram opposite Siva Karthikeyan in Seemaraja.

Petta and beyond (2019–present)[edit]

In July 2018, Sun Pictures announced that Simran had joined the cast in their production venture Petta for the first time in her career to play opposite Rajinikanth, to be directed by the notable director Karthik Subbaraj.[56] The film was released on 10 January 2019 to positive reviews and was a commercial success as well.[citation needed]

Other works[edit]

In March 2002, Simran was signed up to endorse Fanta, the tangy orange-flavoured drink from Coca-Cola. According to a company spokesperson, "Film stars cut across various segments to establish a direct connect with the brand." The ad was conceived by the Lowe and directed by filmmaker Latha Menon.[57][58] In the same year, Jyoti Labs launched Jeeva soap with Simran to endorse the brand and the ad.[59] On 4 June 2008, PepsiCo announced Simran as the new brand ambassador for Kurkure for their brand in the South Indian market, joining the brand's long-standing endorser Juhi Chawla.[60] Simran was chosen as the brand ambassador for the low-calorie sugar substitute Sugar Free Gold by Cadila Healthcare.[61][62] She is also connected with General Mills India for Pillsbury Atta and has appeared in several TV commercials.[63]



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