Picture Post-Mortem: Shamitabh

I woke up late today. Caught cold. And saw Shamitabh. Everyone has their share of bad days. R Balki, the adman, directs this Amitabh Bachhan, Dhanush and Akshara Haasan starrer. This film could well serve as the lifetime achievement film for Mr. Bachhan. Hail meta-references to old Bachhan classics.

Quick fact – R Balki is the chairman of Lowe Lintas, the advertising agency. Lowe Lintas has Lifebuoy as a client. Shamitabh has cringe-worthy mentions of Lifebuoy. “Criminals jaise kitaanu ko saaf karke, desh ki raksha karega lifebuoy.” Excuse me please.

Dhanush plays a smalltown lad with bigtown dreams. He’s also mute. He wishes to become an actor but his mother fakes bad health to keep him from running away to Mumbai. The buses leave everyday and in typical filmi style, Dhanush grows up in front of those buses, with a song going in the background. Somewhere in between the song, the mother dies. Song stops. Dhanush finally takes the bus to Mumbai (Note: not Bombay) and the song resumes. No effs given.

In Mumbai, he manages to barge in the Film City, evades the security guy, and accidently bumps into Akshara Haasan. From here, the story goes Dumb and Dumber. Why? Because Haasan discovers that this guy is talented. And that he can be star. But aunty, awaaz ka kya? Something something voice transfer technology. Ohhhh, you so intelligent. Of course, it was only a prototype which they could give away randomly to anyone. But dude, Amitabh Bachhan was signed on. What a waste if you can’t juice his voice to the maximum.

Balki bulked up the movie with the baritone of Mr. Bachhan. Dhanush starts speaking in Mr. Bachhan’s voice, becomes a superstar. The film stopped making sense, became a bore. A few others stretched, and accidently kicked others sitting in the front, waking them up. And it went on for a good 156 minutes.

I could suffer the movie because of some occasional gems from who else, than Mr. Bachhan himself. His monologues are brilliant. Aaj khush to bohot hu main, partially! I could have been happier if Haasan could have dubbed the movie out of the swimming pool. What? She was? But she sounded so nervous, so nasal, so flat that I mistook it all. But I am no KRK. No personal grudges. Let’s just politely assume she’s a bad actor.

The film has a few good songs, a shimmering hope of survival in the middle, and slowly fades away by the end. What you carry back is just the voice for which the advertisement..errr…film was made.


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