You may have seen a story of jealousy and ego-clashes between two partners cropping up many a time in Hindi cinema, but never before have you seen such a quirky creative take on this issue– well this is more of a norm for maverick director called R.Balki. In this tragic-comedy, the intelligent director utilizes the best asset of Bollywood’s biggest movie star – his voice; moulds, embodies and personifies it as Shamitabh’s central theme.
Story of Shamitabh
Dhanish is a small-town boy of humble upbringing. Despite not being able to speak, he lives on cinema. Even though he has his share of detractors who think it is weird for this voiceless bloke to even think of being in movies, he remains true to his dream. After his mother’s death, he packs his bags, leaves Igatpuri and comes to Mumbai. He even sneaks his way into the vanity van of a movie-star, to take in the aura of what it feels to be a famous actor. Needless to say, he is caught and is about to be thrown out, when a tom-boyish assistant director Akshara (Akshara Hassan) finds a spark in him. She takes him under her wings and decides to help him achieve his goal. The biggest challenge of course, is his inability to speak. Akshara’s father who is a doctor sends the boy off to Finland, where they embedd a voice-box microchip processor in his throat, while ear-pieces are fit in his ear. Though his issue is almost taken care of, the only challenge left is to find someone who has an authoritative voice to match his histrionics.
By chance, they stumble on a vain drunkard Amitabh Sinha, who has his home in the cemetery. The obstinate man is initially hesitant to offer help and even ridicules Dhanish but after some persuasion, gives in. The two form an unbeatable combination, Amitabh’s voice is the perfect foil and a huge success ingredient in making Dhanish popular. Dhanish is now called ‘Shamitabh’ to the world. But with passing time, Amitabh begins to feel jealous and insecure about Dhanish and starts meddling with the scripts he chooses and the people he associates with. Amitabh is also frustrated by being in the background all the time, when he also had it in him for being an actor and his voice was once rejected for not being good enough.
The cracks between the two begin to develop to such an extent that they even split with a lot of bad blood between them. Though they do reconcile with help from Akhsara, the men find it tough to shake off the egoist in them, till the inevitable happens.
Plus points of Shamitabh
Director R.Balki leaves no stone unturned in ensuring that he gives both the protagonists in the film enough meat to chew on, both of them have distinct personalities and traits. He gives an autobiographical spin to Dhanush’s character while giving the right tenor and frustration to Amitabh’s. The songs in the film are situational and interesting, especially the title track. The movie ends with shock value, to some it may be an anticlimax, for others it may be poetic justice.
Minus points of Shamitabh
The screenplay becomes a bit jaded in the second half. The dialogues tend to be repetitive especially the metaphor of whisky vs water.
Performances in Shamitabh
We would count Amitabh Bachchan’s performance in Shamitabh as one of his top 10, this is piece de resistance. Living up to the legend’s range of histrionics is no mean feat, Dhanush manages to do just tha that by pitching an incredibly self- assured performance. Akshara Hassan, the debutante blessed with famous genes, plays the tomboyish Akshara well enough, albeit with a bit of rawness. The rest of the cast provide able support.
Best scenes in Shamitabh
- The kid version of Dhanush acting out a scene
- Dhanush getting emotionally overwhelmed on finding his voice back.
- The meeting of Dhanush with Amitabh Bachcan in the cemetery
- Amitabh Bachchan and Dhanush scenes around the ‘Piddly’ track
- Amitabh Bachchan talking to Robert Deniro’s poster in the bus
- Amitabh Bachchan talking to a tomb
- Amitabh Bachchan’s argument with Dhanush in the toilet
- Akshara Hassan putting sense to Dhanush and Amitabh Bachchan in the school
- The penultimate moments of the film (both Dhanush and Amitabh Bachchan driving to meet Akshara)
- Amitabh Bachchan’s performance towards the end of the film.
It takes two to tango, watch Shamitabh to watch the riveting performances of two of the best actors in Indian cinema – Amitabh Bachchan and Dhanush, and the innovativeness of R. Balki.