Sharaabi, Amar Akbar Anthony, Zanjeer, Namak Haraam and many other films lead to the making of an angry young man Bollywood could ever witness. He enthralled us with his feisty looks and fiery deep baritone voice. All these films mentioned above, and many more, have peculiar scenes with drunken Bachchan’s soliloquy. These are amongst the popular scenes given by Bachchan. Harping on some such concept is R. Balki’s Shamitabh.
On the outside, Shamitabh is a tale of a young chap, Dhanush, who aspires to be an actor. He eats, sleeps, walks, talks, “fillum.” Even as his teacher teaches about Gandhi he pens down words like Oscar, Ben Kingsley, Rohini Hattangadi on his book. He comes from a grounded background. He is the only son of a widow who earns her living by selling vada-pav and bhajiyas at the B.E.S.T stand. Dhanush is bound by love and responsibility towards his mother but after her demise he leaves behind his job as a bus conductor and his rural life to fulfill his dream of walking the red carpet. Once in Mumbai he has to go through arduous time and can hardly come close to accomplishing the strenuous task of talking to a producer/director. And when he does get a helping hand, Akshara, he is denied the opportunity only because he is dumb. However, this peace loving lady, who works as an AD (assistant director) goes out of the way to bring back Dhanush’s voice. Finally, when she does marry science and technology with cinema, she needs a real, raw and spunky voice to match Dhanush’s personality. And that she finds in a drunkard, Amitabh’s, vocal chords. The film then moves on with the tale about the rise and fall of the two - together they make Shamitabh!
While the concept brought by Balki is new and quiet cinematic, in real sense, it is just another story. Not exactly a run-of-the-mill tale yet with too many voids and clichéd scripting the film nullifies the effect it casts in first few minutes of its opening. It cannot be said that it is well-paced for in some places if it is swift, in some, it simply beats around the bush. This 153 minute long film could have been made short and crisp. However, this is something that editors must look into. Balki’s signature style does reflect in the film yet we find the approach towards the subject very casual. What is disappointing is that it is not only predictable but it keeps you waiting for gritty turning point in the story. The humor, although doesn’t leave you in stitches, yet is wise and clever. The climax however beautiful but is prolonged with unnecessary jeers shared between the two lead characters.
Speaking about the performances, Dhanush while enacts out loud his lines, Amitabh Bachchan gives steely performance. It is after ages that you get to hear his deep baritone voice in that signature style and mannerisms. It is remarkable for it is accompanied by the dialogues worthy of such acting and narration. Dialogues make this film a typical Amitabh Bachchan film. Akshara is juvenile in her act but does a fine job and Shamitabh is indeed a good launchpad for her.
Amongst the six songs that the film has, Piddly is the one that will get stuck on you; in fact, it keeps playing at the back of your mind. The other songs simple fail to appease you and this album can’t be called Ilaiyaraaja’s fine work.
Overall the film replicates any Bachchan classic. Our recommendation: Watch it if you are Amitabh Bachchan fanatic.