Shamitabh

shamitabh-poster

Shamitabh
Release date: February 6, 2015
Directed by: R. Balki
Cast: Dhanush, Akshara Haasan, Amitabh Bachchan

Far in the open classroom under the village sun, his teacher asks him who was Mahatma Gandhi’s wife. Braving the ire of his schoolteacher, the young boy has the audacity to answer “Rohini Hattangadi”. Does he know the right answer, maybe. Is he obsessed with the movies, aw-frikin-yeah. Only, this young boy is speech-impaired.

Shamitabh is built on eccentrics, theatricals and (somewhat) satire. Even in this universe, it’s difficult to get top star’s dates to make a film; the stars throw tantrums when they don’t get the attention they think they deserve. The scrawny Dhanush plays Danish, who romances the celluloid with all his senses. He’s reprehended at every step, constantly reminded that a person who looks like him can’t become a proverbial Bollywood Superstar. Even his ‘voice’tells him to have a look at himself in the mirror.

The extremely affable goth assistant director Akshara (Akshara Haasan) plays his support plank. She knows of a particular speech therapy that can help Danish to overcome that one major hurdle that seems to be stopping him from all the potential greatness. In their search for help, they fumble upon a homeless Amitabh (Amitabh Bachchan) who also moved to Mumbai to pursue his acting dreams.

The initial setup of Danish and Amitabh’s wizardry is charming to watch. There are inside references in the form of forced dance item numbers being devised to pull in the ‘masses’ for a film that is meant for the ‘classes’. Also, the film plays out as a self-descriptive depiction of the protagonist to a gathered set of media journalists, who clap even at the snidest of the usual boring condescending remarks which paint them as blood-sucking parasites. This is just one of the many forced narratives of this film.

A clash of egos, which was imminent right from the start, takes place around the halfway mark. Danish and Amitabh share a love-hate relationship right from the start. Instead of making this confrontation of heads seem vicious, it’s all passive-aggressive. Everyone knows what passive-aggressive does. It just carries on and on and on. The innovative technological premise which is used to form the base of all conflict could have been perfectly suitable for a Broadway-esque metaphorical skirmish of the two strong-headed men.

An easy excuse for all the constant-logging of heads could be that how even the bluest of collar wielding underdogs can let fame get to their head. But even that gets tedious to bear with with the developing stagnancy of the film. The film descends into an all out pestering attempt at going into an unnecessary overdrive of emotions. The emphatic individual performances of Bachchan, Dhanush and the surprisingly natural Haasan cannot salvage the overall film.

The dialogue is part philosophical and part witty; out of which Bachchan scores the most ones. But he goes the extra mile with his portrayal too, it’s not just a change of wardrobe and hair here. Dhanush completes the transformation of a young, bhajiya selling film buff to a manipulative, suave megastar without ever uttering a word in his own voice. There is simply nothing to hate about Akshara’s character. How she prioritizes her choices and how she gels the two warring titular characters with her all-black determined gumption.

There are portions which I loved, characters that I adored, and then there is the film that left me feel slighted.

My rating: **3/4 (2.75 out of 5) 

PS: The final rating was indulgently influenced by the beautiful picturization of the Ishq-E-Phillum number.

 

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