Film Review: Shamitabh
Director: R Balki
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush, introducing Akshara Hassan and Vandita Shrivastava
Rating: Three and a half stars
A cinematic expression live on celluloid like jazz string to compose a new tune paying tribute to the magic of cinema. R Balki’s Shamitabh belongs to the new wave of cinema where directors and actors never shy away from experimenting with the absolute, lingering on wacky stuffs, out-of-the-box idea that triumph in places. Certainly, it’s no master-piece if one compares the previous works of the Amitabh Bachchan-R Balki combo of the likes of Cheeni Kum and Paa. What works in the film’s favor, however, is the mind-blowing chemistry between two powerful actors Amitabh Bachchan and Dhanush, one-liners cum hilarious moments adds flavor and over ride the ‘loose’ script at places. In short, Shamitabh is a movie built entirely on performances and moments shared between the actors cum scenes that leaves the audience in splits. Shamitabh is cleverly crafted, designed to tickle your funny bones with light moments.
The film starts with the life of superstar Shamitabh (Dhanush) as he takes us to his past life growing as a child and running away to the city of dreams (Mumbai) to become an actor where he meets Akshara (Hassan) an assistant director who believes in him, accompanying him in this successful journey. However, Shamitabh can never become an actor because his life is uncomplete. Shamitabh and Akshara are on the hunt to find the soul that will give the former an identity. They stumble on a frustrated man and drunkard, lying in a gutter, Amitabh (Sinha). Both Amitabh and Shamitabh become one, completing each other. However, life takes a twist when Amitabh can’t the accept that he is the reason behind Shamitabh’s success when he’s confined in the background, gaining notoriety. Finally, he decides to wreck havoc in the life of Shamitabh. What will happen? Will Amitabh and Shamitabh become one? Will Amitabh destroy the dreams of Shamitabh? The answer lies in Shamitabh.
As I said, Shamitabh is a cinematic experience, exploring the darker side of life and exploring the self. The movie boasts of amazing moments that will stay with you forever and the amazing chemistry between Amitabh Bachchan and Dhanush. The scene in London is poignant when a drunk Amitabh speaks to the poster of Robert De Niro on a bus, ‘Tu asli’ (You are real, I am not). Kya scene hai boss! It’s one of the movie’s forte.Director R Balki has intelligently used Amitabh Bachchan’s huge baritone to perfection and weaved witty, memorable one-liners that makes the strength of the movie.
Whether it’s the old AB classics in the opening scene, ‘Tum mujhe dhoond rahe ho aur main tera yahan intezaar kar raha hoon’ or his funny one-liners, ‘Yeh Awaaz ek c…ke muh se bhi acha lagegi, Mujhse pehle zero, baad mein bhi zero … bas beech mein hero … kyun ki zero ke peeche ek hero hota hai,Jab audio ki vajah se video chalta hai … usko picture kaise bula sakte hai … it is not picture, it is mixture, and Hai koi pani joh chadti hai whiskey ke bina … pani needs whiskey … whiskey mein zaroorat nahi kiski. Bachchan simply rocks as Amitabh Sinha and his witty one-liners is delightful. It wouldn’t be wrong to say Bachchan raises the bar a notch higher in every scene and is one of the factors that makes Shamitabh stands out. He saves the movie that tend to drag in parts.
In the last scene, one just needs to sit and watch Amitabh Bachchan breaking down in the cemetery. What a powerful performance and lesson in acting. A restrained performance but executed in a mind-blowing way. That’s the difference between a superstar and the rest of the tribe.
Dhanush matches the step of his alter ego, Amitabh Bachchan with competence and needless to say that both actors share palatable chemistry that raises the movie’s stock. The actor is not far behind Bachchan and shines throughout the film, playing the bus conductor, reminding us of the struggle of his illustrious father-in-law, Rajni Sir. At times, Dhanush plays to perfection superstar Rajni.
It’s the debut film of the daughter of Kamal Hassan and Sarika, Akshara Hassan. I would say Akshara, who has an uncanny ressemblence to Sarika, has done a decent job though her voice needs some modulation, owing to immaturity at most of the places. She looks tomboyish but got to do with the fact that it’s the director’s vision. However, Akshara stands in one scene where she drags both Amitabh Bachchan and Dhanush in the nursery, teaching ABCD. It’s her moment.
Shamitabh boasts of a brilliant concept but there is something that holds back the movie to become a reference and master-piece. The script is not tight and flawed at places. It shows in the film towards the end of the first part and at times, in the second half where the narrative and screenplay loses steam. It is loose and fails to grip-cum-captivate the audience. A movie like Shamitabh is too long and gets tedious at times because of the fact that it’s 2 hours and 35 minutes. The result could have been better and flaws avoided, had it been two hours long. One flaw that shows in the movie that it gets predictable in the climax where Amitabh, Shamitabh and Akshara sits in the car, singing. I mean, one could easily predict what would happen next.
Shamitabh may suffer from flaws but it has paved the way for a refreshing kind of cinema that must be explored time and again. A movie like Shamitabh injects freshness, flirting with the audience through powerful performances of the lead actors, light moments intelligently scripted and, of course, human identity. Credit goes to R. Balki for his courage and risk to come with this one. Amitabh Bachchan is a volcano that challenges himself, in this daunting role that touches the hearts of the audience and it’s a performance that his fans would drool over. Illayaraaja music is soulful and it’s difficult to get the Piddly song, beautifully rendered by Bachchan and Sha Sha..mi..mi..tabh by Carlisa Monteiro out of your system. SHAMITABH is a unique experience on celluloid that a die-hard Bachchan fan cannot afford to miss. The movie has lovely guest appearances of Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty, Boney Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan and, of course, the Diva herself, Rekha. Her scene has been beautifully captured and watch it to know what I mean.