The film 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 (literally, in its premise), it is immensely enjoyable. The muteness vanishes and we welcome Amitabh's (same first name) 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.
The film 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. The film 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. The film 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.
BOTTOM LINE: 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. Go watch the next show, 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).
R Balki has again come up with a different concept after Cheeni Kum and Paa. It talks about the relationship between two people – one is the voice of another, one cannot do without the other. One becomes a superstar with another’s voice. How that need-based relationship is overpowered with complexities like ego, rivalry, unhealthy competitiveness, conflicts, hunger for identity, fame, recognition etc. The concept is uniquely presented with two great actors on screen, thought drag is felt in some parts of the movie.
It is the story of mute Daanish (Dhanush) who dreams of only and only Bollywood right from his childhood. When the teacher teaches in school in regard to Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi, he relates to Ben Kingslay and Rohini Hattangidi. Daanish expresses himself with great intensity through actions. ‘Actions speak louder than words’ fits him. Daanish reaches Mumbai with lot of dreams in his eyes. He gatecrashes to meet different directors, but all in vain. Then enters into the scene Akshara Haasan, an assistant to a filmmaker. She is able to identify the intensity in Daanish and genuinely wants to help him to get a break.
Akshara becomes instrumental in getting the voice of Amitabh Sinha (Amitabh Bachchan) for Daanish with the medical advancement. Amitabh is alcoholic and eccentric in this movie, plays a failed actor, who was snubbed due to his baritone, lives in a graveyard.
And a superstar Shamitabh is born– combination of Daanish and Amitabh. Why the name Shamitabh was chosen and how the technology supported Daanish with Amitabh’s voice, let me not convey everything.
The movie is about the ups and downs faced by Shamitabh. The movie also talks about how important it is to realize that an Individual’s success is never his or her only success, but many are instrumental in one’s success. If we stop acknowledging others’ contribution towards our success, we might not be able to sustain the success. It is all about completing one another.
How Amitabh faces the identity crisis when Dhanush becomes a celebrity? How Daanish at times gets thankless and opportunist is also projected in the movie. How both of them deal with one another have some interesting moments.
The unconventional story line along with the cast could have done more wonders. I felt that the relationship between Amitabh and Daanish could have been explored a little more. I also felt that the song Piddli by Amitabh Bachchan was diluted with the way it was shot (may be the need of the script). Also, the drag in certain scenes could have been avoided.
Akshara is good. Dhanush is very good, whose face speaks volumes. Amitabh, does he even need any comments???