153 Min. | Comedy – Drama – Thriller | February 2015
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: R. Balki
Staring: Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush, Akshara
Shamitabh Review: Shamitabh starts with a proper flashback montage telling a concise story of a mute, aspiring actor and film enthusiast Danish (Dhanush). The fact that he is a superstar now increases the excitement. He meets Akshara (same name), an assistant director and what follows is although slightly unbelievable, it is immensely enjoyable. The muteness vanishes and we welcome Amitabh’s baritone voice talking for Danish while he acts his character. The only things that bothered me are one, why would an amateur assistant director help out an aspirant? and two, the voice technology. Of course, it is not a foolproof way for a mute person to speak his feelings. But, all these thoughts withers away as the narrative indulges you into it, demanding your attention about a consequential rags-to-riches story coupled with a mysterious source of envy. Shamitabh amazingly addresses issues of that of envy and ego and how these two feelings can cause self-destruction, creating waves that also affect the people closer to one. The singleton phenomenon Shamitabh turns into two different entities as the film unfolds toward climax. Shamitabh basically acts as an intellectual spoof of the cinema industry, and it does it with finesse.
Dhanush is marvelous, and the measure of his excellence is only competed by his co-star Bachchan Sr, who displays a splendid air of being a drunkard wannabe. His mystery could have been demystified, given the importance it plays in the story construction, but it is forgivable. Akshara Haasan did not impress me much because clearly she cannot pull off romantic scenes properly. She may be the chip off the old block, but has a long way in order to master the art of acting. Other than having a literally impossible setup, Shamitabh excels in all other departments, from the beautiful art setup and production sets to the beat music (by the maverick Illayaraja), from a fine camera job to inventive writing by Balki. He has carved out a fine plot, often taking potshots at recent filmmaking trends viz. masala nonsense, illogical songs (and even more illogical videos), etc. But, these potshots are not cringe-worthy, instead they will make you laugh.
Shamitabh has a great amount of humor if you watch closely, and helped by Bachchan’s fabulous dialogs delivery, you will roll on the floor laughing. Despite a drag in the funnier second half, Shamitabh does not disappoint at all. Bachchan’s few solo sequences made me yawn, but I am ready to call this the first good Bollywood film of the year. Watch Shamitabh, because this is one drama we have all been talking about haven’t seen. You will be enthralled by the catchy songs. Can be watched with a typical Indian family? Yes (if few expletives from the mouths of Bachchan Sr and Haasan’s second daughter are okay with the heads of the family).