Shamitabh is a good movie. Is it a perfect movie? No, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s a lot of fun right from the beginning of the movie to around 10 minutes before the end of the movie. Its premise is as exciting as it is ridiculous, especially within the context of Bollywood cinema.
Dhanush plays Daanish, a man who’s life’s dream is to be a Bollywood superstar despite being mute. He learned more things about life from the movies than from his teacher at school (but really, isn’t that true of all of us?). The film does a really good job of showing his passion for cinema. He wants to go to Bollywood so bad he even tried to run away from home when he was in primary school. The only thing chaining him to his village is his ailing mother.
Dhanush plays Daanish as such a charming wide-eyed dreamer that we almost don’t notice the faint smile on his face when that final chain is broken.
He finally gets to Bollywood and manages to impress assistant director Akshara (Akshara Haasan) with his acting chops. She introduces him to her director. But, as being unable to speak is not exactly a plus point when it comes to acting, he’s rejected.
Conveniently enough, Akshara’s father is a doctor who, conveniently enough has a friend in Finland who, conveniently enough works at a voice research lab and, conveniently enough, happens to have just invented real-time dubbing technology. Sure, they give a lot of technobabble about how the technology works but, it’s really just real-time dubbing.Now, all Akshara and Dhanush have to do is find a man with the perfect voice.
Enter Amitabh Bachchan.
Amitabh Bachchan plays a crazy old guy who lives in a graveyard. Amitabh has the voice – The Voice. Akshara and Dhanush convince Amitabh to lend his voice to Dhanush. Dhanush’s body and Amitabh’s voice. With their powers combined they become Captain Plan-er, Shamitabh.
And now, we have our movie.
Shamitabh is a lot of fun to watch because everyone in the movie seems to be having a lot of fun, and it shines when it doesn’t take itself seriously. For much of the movie everyone involved knows how silly the concept is and, play it up accordingly. There’s even an entire song about peeing sung by Amitabh Bachchan. But then, at the climax it kind of goes downhill.
You know those old cartoons where Wile E. Coyote or Daffy Duck runs over the edge of a cliff and keeps going without falling until they look down? The moment they look down they realize gravity is a thing that exists and promptly falls down. Shamitabh’s climax is like that. The moment the director looked down and saw the real world, the film fell.
I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that the movie got hit by a truck on its way to a better climax.
Even so, I had fun.