Saturday, 7 February 2015

Shamitabh :: Movie Review

                                
Shamitabh is technically brilliant, novel, out of the box ode to cinema by R.Balki which is taken a few notches higher by the acting prowess of two giant of actors namely Amitabh Bachchan and Dhanush. These days innovation in Bollywood has almost become a passe as most of our filmmakers have fallen prey to commercialization in lieu of entering so called 100 crores club. As a result, in the recent past we have witnessed ample biopics and southern remakes with gravity defying stunts being churned out in hordes. Thankfully, there are still some filmmakers who still make movies with their hearts and make their presence felt by dishing out something new whenever they helm a movie. And, R.Balki is one of them. If his 'Cheeni Kum' was an unconventional love story with a big age difference between the main leads, His second offering 'Paa' took unconventionality to newer heights with its innovative subject. Just like his previous flicks, R.Balki is back once again with a new novel concept of an ego clash between the face who acts and the person who lends voice to that face, decorated with towering performances of legendary Big B and star in the making Dhanush in the form of cine spectacle called, Shamitabh. R.Balki's Shamitabh deals with a story about ego clashes between two men who can't live with each other, but can't let go of each other too. The idea behind Shamitabh is avant-garde which has been further propelled by its lead actors who revel in playing their parts to perfection. While Amitabh Sinha (Bachchan) is a big time alcoholic who once aspired to be an actor, there's Danish (Dhanush), a mute guy, who dreams of becoming a Bollywood hero. What he lacks in vocals he makes up with his spirited approach. What Bachchan has is his rich baritone. With help from a friendly assistant director (Akshara Haasan) and technology, the two combine and re-christen themselves as Shamitabh. What works in their as well as movie's favor is their bond that is laced with ego clashes of one-upmanship. It's entertaining to watch their verbal duels, especially Amitabh who never misses an opportunity to belittle Dhanush with taunts like " It's not your face they love, but my voice. Ye aawaz to ek kutte ke munh se bhi achchi lagegi ". He even points that danish's weight (59Kgs) is lighter than his voice. The blows come fast and powerful but Dhanush ducks them with impressive earnestness. Ego can make even the giant-est of giants bite the dust and it is one thing that should never get in between your personal or professional life. And in case you are dependent on another person for the position you have reached in life, then you must definitely kick your ego flying out of the window. A scene in which Akshara makes the two leading men with big egos, sit down in a nursery room and draws their attention towards the hazards that their ego hassles are causing will make you smile big time. Although, the dialoguebaazi between the leading men or even monologues of Big B are a delight but after a certain time they become too much and ruin the flow of narrative. Had the movie duration been cut short by more crisp editing by say around 20-25 minutes, it would have made a big difference in the commercial prospects of the movie.

STORY & SCREENPLAY                                                  ::      The story as well as screenplay of the movie has been penned down by R.Balki. Undoubtedly, Balki has woven a storyline which is unique and has a novel concept keeping Cinema in mind. Right from the beginning, it becomes clear that Balki is paying tribute to Indian as well as Western cinema. When a teacher draws GandhiJi on blackboard and asks young Danish some questions like Who was Gandhiji's wife and what did Gandhiji get, his replies are that his wife was Rohini Hathangidi and he got an Oscar obviously refereeing to the movie 'Gandhi" much to the amusement of other children present in class. The teacher scolds him and sarcastically says that this mute kid wants to become an actor and asks him to showcase his acting skills. Young Danish writes on blackboard " Scene Kya Hai or what is the script". This sets the tone for the movie with the message being loud and clear. Such is the impact of Cinema that it can even inspire a vocally impaired person to dream about becoming an actor. Shamitabh is peppered with many of such observations with the script and dialogues being fantastic. Alias, same is not the case with the screenplay which has lot of glitches. Some of the dialogues in the movie are too good like when Dhanush says to the media persons, " Aap media wale shakal aur awaaz ke beech mein bhi nafrat paida kar sakte ho", referring to the insecurities non good looking actors face in the film industry. The movie begins with a film party where Shamitabh alias Danish (Dhanush) is introduced to the media on the release of his movie 'Lifebuoy". Hereafter, the movie begins to oscillate between present and past portraying the tale of a mute boy who becomes a Film hero overcoming his handicap. Danish is crazy about acting even as a kid in spite of the fact that he is mute and wants to run away to Mumbai but can't do so because of his mother's illness. After years, he arrives in Mumbai after his mother passes away where no one takes him seriously because of his handicap. But Assistant Director Akshara (Akshara Haasan) sees the potential in him and recommends him to the director she works for who refuses to give him a chance because of his speech problem. Just the, Akshara's doctor father (Uday Tikekar) gets to know of a advanced medical technology in Finland which could help mute people speak. Danish is flown to Finland where an ear piece is given to him which has the ability to store the words spoken by another voice with a similar ear piece. Now, begins a hunt to find suitable voice for Danish. Danish & Akshara come across Amitabh Sinha (Amitabh Bachchan), a drunkard who once aspired to be an actor but has the perfect baritone voice. After lot of persuasion, he agrees to become the voice of Danish. Amitabh Sinha, who at all times has to be in close proximity to Danish, is introduced as Danish's walet "Robert". Danish is signed for a new movie and his name is changed to 'Shamitabh'. Shamitabh becomes a superstar with the huge success of his very first film and Robert resents all the adulation being given to Shamitabh as he feels his contribution to the success is much more than that of Shamitabh himself. Soon, ego problems develop between the two and the things starting to get worse between both of them. Do they resolve their differences and if so, how ? This is what forms the rest of the movie. 

STARCAST                                                                   ::           The biggest highlight of this movie is the performances from its starcast especially the leading men. Amitabh Bachchan essays the role of Amitabh Sinha, who is an extremely frustrated man, owing his failure to be an actor. It was real enticing to watch Mr.Bachchan play a character of a frustrated drunkard man who is known to be very docile and calm. The best part is that he looks so natural that one doesn't feel like if he is watching Big B on screen. His wayward walking, his wobbly tongue while he talks, makes it very believable as if he is quite drunk literally. It is a real treat to watch his action speak louder than words in the last scene of the movie. A classy performance with the intensity in the eyes to match, brought back the memories of AGNEEPATH where he carried the film on the strength of his voice alone. Dhanush, after Raanjhanaa, gets even better. This guy without six pack abs or fair complexion, laps up the scenes with his earnest performance. Dhanush - the man might have small frame but he roars on screen. He has played the central character of Shamitabh, a struggling actor who wants to become big in Bollywood despite being mute with utmost conviction. Without mouthing a single dialogue, he portrays sheer magic in the film. Eventually your heart would go to him especially after the ending. To make Amitabh's voice look graceful on himself, was quite the challenge which he has done literally well. Dhanush is one actor who has been able to make his presence felt in the industry only cause of his sheer talent as he has the most unconventional looks required to be a Bollywood hero. Akshara Haasan who has made her debut with this movie looks promising. Subtle, gentle, cool, confident and innocent all rolled into one. The best part is that she has been able to hold onto her own and make her presence felt whilst standing between Big B & Dhanush which is not a mean achievement by any standards.She doesn't seem to shudder even for a second, when she is alongside superstars like Big B & Dhanush. She seems to have inherited acting skills from her talented actor parents namely Kamal Haasan & Sarika. Amongst the ensemble starcast noteworthy performances have been given by Uday Tikekar, Asif Ali Beg, Ajay Jadhav, Karim Hajee & Ivan Rodriguez.         

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                           ::          The soundtrack of the movie has been composed by Ilaiyaraaja who seems to be a favorite of Balki like Big B as this is the third film of the trio together. Ilaiyaraaja has charted out a fairly descent album with the title track 'Shamitabh' as well as 'Pidley' standing out amongst others. The background music for the film has also been composed by Ilaiyaraaja and the maestro has lent a magical touch to the same. The first half an hour of the movie where young Danish enacts a scene of grieving over his dead mother and his passion of cinema is stolen by Ilaiyaraaja's background music. The BGM of this movie elevates some particular scenes especially the monologues to an altogether different level. The cinematographer of the movie is PC Sreeram who has done an outstanding job behind the lens. His cinematography is a treat for eyes. Each of his frames are wallpaper material and capture the proceedings from a different perspective. He has brilliantly used different color palates according to the characters and scenes. While he has used dark and subdued tones around Big B, the color palates get more vibrant when Dhanush & Akshara are on-screen making it a visual delight. A special mention of Urvi Ashar & Shipra Rawal whose production designing with enough props and posters of movie stalwarts has ensured that the movie seems like an ode to Cinema. The editor of the movie is Hemanti Sarkar who has kept the runtime of the movie to 154 minutes which is a tad too long for a movie of this genre. Had the movie been more crisply edited and been shortened by say a duration of around 25 minutes especially in the second half, it would have been a big benefit to the commercial prospects of the movie. As a writer-director, R.Balki has once again reaffirmed that he is not only apt enough of penning down some novel ideas in the form of storyline but also has the vision to translate them on-screen with his directorial skills and crafting abilities. He has woven an original plot centered around three main characters and made an entertaining film out of it. His direction is first rate but had he done away with some of the recurring clash scenes between the leading men and too many monologues of Big B in second half, the movie could have been more entertaining. I am not saying that the movie is bad, it is really good but it could have been better.

CONCLUSION                                                                                   ::           Shamitabh is definitely a good one time watch for its really novel concept which is an ode to cinema plus the towering performances of (DHANU)SH-AMITABH.       

ROHIT SHARMA.
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