Brilliant acts make for a stellar show

Brilliant acts make for a stellar show

Brilliant acts make for a stellar show

Shamitabh 

Hindi (U/A) ****

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush, Akshara Hassan

Director: R Balki

There’s a fine line between becoming predictable and developing a directorial signature. The Hindi film industry is replete with the former, the most notable being Madhur Bhandarkar, whose “strong” heroines always seem to tell the same story, only in or through different professions.

Directors with a signature are a rare breed here, and R Balki is a welcome addition to that tribe. 

Quirky, stereotype-bending characters to ego clashes to (spoiler and hanky alert!) even tragedy in the end are present in all three films he has helmed.

However, they have risen beyond cliches to become his signatures because they would not be complete without their respective riveting stories and intelligent, hard-hitting dialogues.

Therefore, although the plot of Shamitabh is riddled with discrepancies, implausibilities and unanswered questions, Balki does a stellar job of telling the story of a speech-impaired acting-aspirant (Dhanush) who is lent a voice by another washed-up aspirant (Amitabh Bachchan), as they embark on a journey both in front of and behind the camera to stardom with the aid of a boyish but helpful assistant director (a raw but promising Akshara Hassan). 

The wit sparkles between the exchanges between the three, and as the film promises, both Dhanush and Amitabh rise to the occasion to deliver performances that liven up the screen. Yes, they have the power to even take your attention from the sometimes-weak plot, and laugh and weep with the characters on screen. 

Ilayaraja does a sterling job of living up to his moniker of Isaignani, and Balki uses his songs to the hilt to enhance the story and the film’s pace. Also, watch out for the potshots — alternating between super-subtle to on-the-nose blunt — that the director takes at the film industry, and the clever references, like Rekha lauding Shamitabh’s baritone. Watch this film for its exceptional human quotient.

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