Simrita Garewal, also known by the shorter first name, Simi, is one of the prominent Indian actresses of the early Hindi movie industry. She was born in 1947 and debuted in her first movie as a fifteen year old in Tarzan goes to India, in the year 1962. After that she did a number of movies and soon she was a very talented and known actress, as well as a popular celebrity. Her work in certain movies is especially applauded such as the movies Mera Naam Joker, Saathi and Karz. Herein we shall discuss her role of Mary in the movie Mera Naam Joker, where she starred alongside Raj Kapoor, one of the greatest actors of Hindi cinema. The film also marked the debut of young Rishi Kapoor who proved to be worthy of the role and since then has also become one of the leading actors in the industry.
Mera Naam Joker was the story of a boy whose family is related to the world of a circus. The protagonist Raju has a proclivity towards the circus, while incidentally his father, also a circus clown, dies while performing for the same. At this father’s death, his mother develops a dislike for the circus world; but even as she persuades Raju to leave that world, she cannot convince him and he grows up and joins the circus. The movie is about the path that this young boy travels right from childhood, when his father is taken by the very world he loves to his very last performance as a clown.
Simi Garewal in Mera Naam Joker played the role of young Raju’s teacher. She stars in the first part of the movie where we see that the young boy, like most kids, develops a liking for his teacher and how he manages to deal with it. The plot carefully opens up as we find that Raju is indeed apprehensive about his infatuation and although he just experiences his first desire, he realizes that it’s a strong one. Unaware of this, his teacher, Mary, played by Simi Garewal goes on teaching him with the life-lessons and how one should always display a smile even in the most painful of times. He learns them obediently but is thrown off when he attends her wedding and understands that things may not go as he expects. When his expectations are shattered and he realizes it was always bound to be this way, seeing as she was an older woman, his heart is broken and he is in a lot of pain. But he remembers his teacher’s lesson and knows that no matter what happens one is always to hide their sorrow and spread happiness around.
The role that Simi Garewal plays in Mera Naam Joker is not quite a crucial or demanding one. So it may not have been surprising to expect a slightly under-shadowed performance from her. However, in all that small time she gets on the screen, she simply stands out. Her performance wins over hearts and is symbolic to every teacher who has to deal with the awkward truth of notifying the kid that she is after all, elder to them and that every kid has such an infatuation and that they should not take it too seriously. It does require a certain level of maturity too from the teacher’s end to deal with the situation delicately and not just dismiss the student off with punishment; and Simi shows exactly that. One can almost mistake her for being a real teacher, seeing the way she deals with the kids, especially Raju.
One needs to understand that at the time when Mera Naam Joker was released, it did not receive any critical appraisal; in fact, it actually flopped at the box office. Naturally, along with that, it is expected that the cast would not be lucky enough to receive positive comments. That was true too, and with the exception of Raj Kapoor, none of the other cast members were even mentioned in the movie reviews by the critics then. But a few years hence, things took a turn for the better, and rightly enough, people were appreciative of the movie, and even applauded the cast. Simi Garewal was also applauded and her performance was said to be one of her finest performances. This was huge considering her role was very small and because she was portraying her talent with likes of legends like Raj Kapoor.
She looked beautiful too in her role as Mary. A school teacher, so not too dressed up and mainly plain with simple make-up which made her look ravishing. It was an important role as far as the movie was concerned, because the plot opened up with the advent of the encounter of young Raju with his teacher. The heartbreak that he suffered at such a young age made him stronger to deal with the greater problems in his life. The role centered on a clown who had to keep smiling even as there were terrible tragedies going on in his life. That is exactly what he learned when he turned up at Mary’s wedding, expecting something but getting something else entirely.
This wasn’t Simi’s first movie. She had acted in a number of movies earlier before she came into Mera Naam Joker, but the role of Mary was entirely new to her. She had played college girl, a housewife and even other non-stereotype roles, but never a teacher to a young protagonist. In spite of that however, she excelled at her role, bringing a fresh new energy and an eccentric Mary, one which the audience had probably never seen before. Even Raj Kapoor, who also was credited with the direction, stated that it was one of the best performances of Simi, and no other actress could probably do any greater justice to the role of the teacher Mary, like Simi did.