Excerpt: Shamitabh is built upon a novel idea and gifted shoulders of its two principal actors. But soon after enamouring us with an electric start, it begins to overindulge, overreach and meander before eventually falling much short of its promise.
Review: [Spoiler Alert: Some details revealed in the description of basic plot]
A ‘mixture’ (word explained in the film) of an earnest facade and a hidden someone ruling – and fooling – the film industry is quite a tantalising premise. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn’t quite walk as well.
Daanish (Dhanush) is a dumb (गूंगा) boy from rural Maharashtra, who was born to be a star. Lack of voice never hampered his dreams, till he finally reaches Mumbai. Hounded out by all studios, he meets a young, modern day assistant director Akshara (Akshara Haasan) who (for some reason) pours her life’s quota of compassion on Daanish – going even to the extent of taking Daanish to Finland to get him operated for his vocal chords.
As modern day European technology would have it, the Finnish voice experts enable Daanish to mouth out the voice of any person who is connected with him via a Bluetooth type of gadget! Once back in Mumbai, all that the duo needs is a good voice that can come out of Daanish’s mouth.
Enter old, dilapidated and angry Amitabh Sinha (well…), who lives in a graveyard after having failed in his attempt at making it big in the Hindi film industry. Together as (Daani)shAMITABH, the voice and the man hit gold at the box office. The purple patch gets shredded when the two can’t decide who has a bigger role to play in the success.
Clearly, real life possibilities are not the biggest concerns while putting together the basic idea. The whole point of the farcical writing seems to somehow make the idea happen – somehow, anyhow. And it begins with the very first step that the protagonist takes towards the idea.
And when the writer (R Balki) is also the director, it should barely be surprising that the film as a whole represents a meandering journey.
From the initial frame of reference, it seemed that the film could be about human spirit overcoming all odds. Later, it gives an impression that it is all about human ego coming in the way of acknowledging and accommodating human limitations. And then there are instances of it being a statement on Hindi film industry’s vacuous identity and productions, a linguistic political comment, comedy, satire and the all encompassing tribute to the maker’s favourite actor and his voice.
Eventually, it ends up being all of that together – or nothing in particular. Consequently, while you admire the premise and the attempt, you feel the film getting dragged, especially after the first hour.
Amitabh Bachchan is very good. He looks every bit his part. Remove him from the film and the film would lose, well, its raison d’être. But for how many more times would directors give him forced soliloquies – like the one he has with Mrs. Gomes in the film? Those are neither novel anymore nor add too much to films. At worst, today’s youth lose attention during such sequences.
Dhanush is extremely good and though the plot in the larger public imagination gets buried under the ‘Bachchan baritone’ conversations, the fact of the matter is that Dhanush matches Bachchan for most part. His pre-Mumbai sequences and the farcical first film visuals are a riot. He looks a complete natural and is an asset to the industry.
It is difficult to judge the acting abilities of Akshara from this film. Constrained within a rather implausible scenario, she more or less looks having been herself in the film.
Cinematographer P. C. Sreeram again looks in fine form. He lights up the various moods of the contrived narrative well and makes the film visually quite attractive. Editor Hemanti Sarkar shines with jump cuts and transitions.
This is Ilayaraja‘s 1000th film and he comes up with a score that goes well with the film. The songs might not be hummed for long but they – along with the background score – do the job expected of them. The title song and Pidley are two of the more noteworthy compositions.
Verdict: Shamitabh is quite different from a regular Hindi film. And for that reason (alone) you may want to watch it once.