Simran was born as Rishibala Naval on 4 April 1976 to Punjabi parents in Mumbai & her father is Ashok Naval & mother is Sharda Naval. Simran has two younger sisters, Monal and Jyothi Anand, & a younger brother Sumeet Naval. She did her schooling from St. Anthony’s high school, Versova and finished her 12th from Children Welfare Centre Yari Road in Mumbai. She actively participated in dance & drama during her school & college time.
She married Deepak Bagga, her childhood friend on 2 December 2003. The couple have two children, Adheep Odo (born 11 June 2005) and Aadit Veer (born 16 March 2011).
Debut and breakthrough (1995–1999)
Simran made her cinematic 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. Simran was presenter of the show Superhit Muqabla on Doordarshan’s Metro channel, and was subsequently offered a leading role by ABCL production, the romantic drama Tere Mere Sapne (1996), in which she is known for the hit song Aankh Marey.
Her first break in South Indian film Industry was through Malayalam film Indraprastham opposite Mammootty. She appeared in her Kannada debut Simhada Mari, opposite Kannada actor, Shivarajkumar, while her Telugu debut was “Abbai Garipalli” with Suman, Sanghavi and Lakshmi.
Her Tamil Cinema debut was marked in 1997 with films Once More and V. I. P. In Once More she played the female lead opposite Vijay along with veteran actors Sivaji Ganesan and Saroja Devi. The film was directed by S. A. Chandrasekhar and was a box office hit. In V. I. P., she was paired opposite Prabhu Deva. The song “Minnal Oru Kodi” picturized with Prabhu Deva and Simran became a chartbuster and all-time hit for the actors. Both films garned her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut – South for the year. In Nerrukku Ner, she was paired opposite Suriya, in his debut. The film was produced by director Mani Ratnam.
Following a successful debut in Tamil film, in 1998, she had her first release in K. S. Ravikumar’s Kondattam, opposite Arjun, Natpukkaga (1998), Aval Varuvala (1998) , Kannedhirey Thondrinal (1998), and Jodi (1999).
In 1999, her first Tamil release for the year was Thulladha Manamum Thullum, opposite Vijay. As a blind woman, she was highly appreciated for her performance in the film. She received the Tamil Nadu State Award for Best Actress. The film was later remade in Telugu as Nuvvu Vastavani with Nagarjuna. Her next release opposite Ajith Kumar was Vaali. Due to the critic acclaim for her performance, she won the Cinema Express Award for Best Actress – Tamil. Her next film was Kanave Kalaiyadhe, Kannupada Poguthaiya, Time, Telugu film, Samarasimha Reddy and Bollywood film, Anari No.1.
Continuity To Success (2000–2003)
In 2000 she had two Tamil films Parthen Rasithen and Priyamaanavale. Her other release Unnai Kodu Ennai Tharuven opposite Ajith Kumar, was a commercial and critical failure.
Her Telugu films Yuvaraju with Mahesh Babu and Goppinti Alludu with Balakrishna were released in the same year and claimed to be average grossers in box office. She was the leading actress in the film, Kalisundam Raa with Venkatesh. In 2001, she concentrated on Telugu films and had a mixed year with Mrugaraju and Daddy, with Chiranjeevi and Bava Nachadu, with Nagarjuna. Her movie Narasimha Naidu, which was with Balakrishna, became an industry hit and Simran, who played the role of a wife who becomes the victim for her husband’s opponent, was appreciated and gained her a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu.
In the Tamil film Industry, she had only two releases in 2001. Her first release was the 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’s role as a young widow with affections for her colleague, was highly appreciated by critics and audience. The Hindu mentioned that “Simran does a commendable job in the climax”. Rediff.com 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”. In the same year, she worked with Balachandar in his 100th production venture Paarthale Paravasam paired with Madhavan. The film tells the story of a couple going through a break-up after the husband is exposed of having a pre-martial child. In 2002, she starred with Balakrishna in Seema Simham, which was an average grosser. She also starred in several successful Tamil films, Ramanaa with Vijayakanth, Pammal K. Sambandam and Panchatanthiram with Kamal Haasan and Thamizh with Prashanth. In 2002, she was also cast as the female lead for Mani Ratnam’s Kannathil Muthamittal with Madhavan. She won South Filmfare Award for her performance for Kannathil Muthamittal.
At the height of her career, Simran took a break from the film industry after her marriage.
After her marriage, Simran completed her film Udhaya. She made a return in 2008 with Okka Magaadu, opposite Balakrishna, John Appa Rao 40 Plus & she starred in the Tamil films TN 07 AL 4777, Ainthaam Padai & Seval. Her role as Suriya’s wife & mother in Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Vaaranam Aayiram was critically acclaimed & she won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress – Tamil & the Vijay Award for Best Supporting Actress. She simultaneously explored the small screen where she has acted in Jaya TV’s serial Simran Thirai, which consisted of mini- serials featuring Simran & included many popular stars such as Ramji, Raaghav, Saakshi Siva & Abitha playing supporting roles. In 2012, she hosted Jackpot, a game show on Jaya TV which was earlier hosted by Khushbu Sundar & Nadhiya. In 2013 Simran & her husband Deepak Bagga produced a reality show Dance Tamizha Dance.
In 2014, she made a guest appearance in Aaha Kalyanam under the banner Yash Raj Films & in Trisha Illana Nayanthara in 2015. In October 2015, she made a special appearance in the Kannada films Alone & Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga & Thupparivaalan in 2017 & Odu Raja Odu in 2018. In the same year, she appeared in a negative role opposite Sivakarthikeyan in the Tamil film Seemaraja.
Simran acted in Petta with Rajinikanth. She then went on to appear in the self-produced Hindi music video “Mein Aur Meri Khwaishein“ which was released under her own production “Simran And Sons“, directed By Deepak Bagga. In 2020, she starred in the Netflix OTT film, Paava Kadhaigal.
In 2021, Simran was seen in Mahaan film. Her next films are Rocketry: The Nambi Effect and Andhagan.