Simran Bagga (born Rishibala Naval; 4 April 1976), also known by the mononym Simran, is an Indian film actress, model and television personality. She has predominantly appeared in Tamil and Telugu language films, as well as a few films in Hindi, Malayalam and Kannada.
Simran was born in Mumbai and spent most of her childhood there. 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 Superhit Muqabla show, making her Bollywood debut in Sanam Harjai (1995). Having acted in few Hindi films, she later achieve her first success with Tere Mere Sapne (1996). Subsequently, she made her debut in South Indian cinema through Malayalam film Indraprastham in 1996 and acted in her first Kannada film Simhada Mari and Telugu film Abbai Gari Pelli the following year.
The same year she debuted in Tamil through V. I. P. and was followed by string of commercial successes in her early career. In 1999, Simran received critical praise for playing a blind woman in Thulladha Manamum Thullum. However the turning point of her career came with the success of Vaali (1999) which made Simran the most successful actress in the industry. 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. She received her first Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Actress for Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), as the mother of an adopted 9-year-old daughter. Other than romantic dramas, Simran had also appeared in two blockbuster comedy films alongside Kamal Hassan; 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 the latter, she received her first Filmfare Award for Best Telugu Actress nomination. With the success of the 2004 sci fi film New, Simran left the film industry following her marriage with her childhood family friend Deepak Bagga. In 2008 she made a comeback to Tamil cinema with Vaaranam Aayiram, where she played the role of a mother and a wife to the characters played by Suriya and won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1998, entertainment portal Rediff.com called her "one of Tamil cinema's top female draws". In 1999, she was featured in Forbes Magazine as the most prolific actress with a diverse portfolio from the Indian sub continent. Well noted for her dancing and acting skills in the Indian film industry, she won three Filmfare Awards South including Best Female Debut for Once More, V.I.P and Nerrukku Ner, one Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress for Thulladha Manamum Thullum, three Cinema Express Awards and was awarded Once with the Kalaimamani award in 2003.
Simran was born as Rishibala 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. She did her schooling from St. Anthony's high school, Versova and finished her B.Com in Mumbai and was modelling simultaneously. She speaks Punjabi, Hindi, English and Tamil. Simran is a trained dancer and can perform Bharatanatyam and Salsa.
She married Deepak, her childhood family friend, on December 2, 2003. They have two sons, Adheep and Aadit.
Simran made her debut in the 1995 Hindi film Sanam Harjai directed by Saawan Kumar.It was the first Indian film to be shot in New Zealand and Simran stayed shot abroad for three months, though the film was disaster at box office. 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 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. Meanwhile, she was 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 with Mammootty in the lead role. In 1997, she appeared in her only Kannada film till date, 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. She then made her debut in the Tamil movie industry, Vasanth's multi-starrer Nerukku Ner, produced by Mani Ratnam, and she signed on to work on the film swiftly in order to work with the noted producer. Then Simran starred in several successful movies such as V.I.P (1997), Natpukkaga (1998), Aval Varuvala (1998) and Kannedhirey Thondrinal (1998) with leading actors Prabhu Deva, Sarath Kumar, Ajith Kumar and Prasanth respectively. Her debut Telugu movie was Abbayi Gari Pelli in 1997 opposite Suman which opened to poor reviews.
Following successful debut in Tamil and Telugu films, in 1998 she had her first release in K. S. Ravikumar's Kondattam opposite Arjun Sarja. She also appeared in a supporting role with Akkineni Nagarjuna and Deepti Bhatnagar in Auto Driver. Both performed averagely at box office. She tasted her first success with Ajith Kumar in Aval Varuvala, a remake of 1997 Telugu film Pelli. Her role was well received by the critics.
In the same year she acted in blockbuster Vaali opposite Ajith Kumar for which she won Cinema Express Award for Best Actress – Tamil. She revealed that after working on the film, she became “alert in her choice of films”, only signing ventures which had big production banners.. In the next year she acted in blockbuster Thulladha Manamum Thullum opposite Vijay. She was appreciated for her performance in the film highly. In 1999, she acted in Jodi with Prashanth and Samarasimha Reddy opposite Balakrishna in 1999. Both the movies opened to positive reviews. The success continued with Tamil films Priyamaanavale with Vijay and Parthen Rasithen, in which she portrayed a negative role. She also starred in hit Telugu films Kalisundam Raa with Venkatesh and Nuvvu Vastavani with Nagarjuna.
In 2001, she concentrated on Telugu films and had a mixed year with Mrugaraju and Daddy with Chiranjeevi, Bava Nachadu with Nagarjuna becoming average grossers. Her movie Narasimha Naidu with Balakrishna became a blockbuster. In 2002, she again starred with Balakrishna in Seema Simham which was an average grosser. In 2002, she did several successful Tamil films Ramana with Vijaykanth, Pammal K. Sambandam and Panchathantiram with Kamal Haasan, Thamizh with Prasanth and Mani Ratnam’s Kannathil Muthamittal with Madhavan. She won several accolades for her performance in Kannathil Muthamittal including a Filmfare award. At the height of her career, Simran left the film industry after her marriage.
Simran made a return in 2008 with Okka Magadu opposite Balakrishna, John Appa Rao 40 plus and Seval. Her role in Gautham Menon's Vaaranam Aayiram was critically acclaimed and she won Filmfare and Vijay awards for the same. She starred in 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. In October 2015, Simran and her husband set up a production studio called Simran & Sons, and launched two new film projects.
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 a mini-serials all featuring Simran in the lead role and included many popular stars like 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 Kushboo and Nadhiya. She acted in Agni Paravai, a serial telecast in Puthuyugam TV. She serves as one of the judges in the reality show Dance Tamizha Dance in Zee Tamizh.
On 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. In the same year, Jyoti Labs launched Jeeva soap with Simran to endorse the brand and the ad. On June 4, 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. Simran was chosen as the brand ambassador for a low calorie sugar substitute Sugar Free Gold by Cadila Healthcare. She is also tied with General Mills India for Pillsbury Atta and has appeared in several TV commercials.