Shamitabh Review: Interesting But Lacks Chemistry


Shamitabh, aside from having an impressive cast, also has an interesting topic. It’s about a lad who can’t speak but who has dreamed of being a film actor since little. He gets his big break when, with the help of an assistant director and her doctor father, he receives a medical treatment with a unique technology in which someone else can speak for him. After a brief search, they discover the perfect voice, the voice of a drunkard who lives in a cemetery. Together they make films but there is a constant struggle between the two men and their egos about who is the bigger star.

As much as I was intrigued by the topic and as much as I enjoyed the first half, when the end credits started rolling, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something missing in Shamitabh. The second half wasn’t up to my expectation.

First of all, I couldn’t understand why Dhanush was called “Danish” in the movie when everyone else used their own name. It was annoying and it made me crave Danish pastry throughout the film. Secondly, I think that Dhanush got the short stick with this role because not being able to speak limited his performance. He did a great job, especially in the first half, but his expressions and impromptu sign language got a bit messy toward the end.

What’s most important, however, is that the chemistry between the three lead characters could have been better. I did not feel at any point in the film that three bonded with each other although they were supposed to. If anything, it was Dhanush’s character who expressed some affection. But the lack of affection from the other two characters and the lack of bonding scenes weakened that aspect of the plot. At the end of the film, it felt that the tears and sadness weren’t very real.

I suspect that the writer and director had issues with the ending. Maybe they couldn’t think of ideas or didn’t think enough about making it convincing. The ending for me was not impressive. It was unexpected but not surprising or shocking in a good way. I predicted the end as soon as I saw Dhanush and Amitabh singing terribly in the car. I remembered Aakshara’s comment about how Dhanush is an awful driver. So unfortunately, the writer/director didn’t manage to surprise us as much as he expected to.

Aakshara can improve her dialogue delivery and posture a little bit, but for her very first film, I think she did an excellent job. She was calm and unrestrained and was a good choice for the role. She’s definitely a better actor than her sister. Again, there was the issue of lack of chemistry between her and Dhanush but I’m starting to think that this had something to do with the director.

Amitabh Bachchan was of course very good. My only issue with his performance was that it’s the kind of performance that we’ve actually seen quite a few times. The cross, bitter, old man character isn’t terribly original for him. But there is no doubt that an actor who can deliver so many emotions with a single look and who can use his voice with so much expertise is rare. He does and will always maintain that legacy in Indian cinema.

Did anyone catch that scene where Rekha is giving an award to Dhanush and is suddenly moved by his voice, which is actually Amitabh’s? I’m not sure what the point of this scene was. At first I thought that they were going to reveal a romantic side story of how Amitabh and Rekha are old lovers. But nothing like that happened in the film and I’m still not sure why that scene was there.

I’m really undecided about this film. I did truly enjoy the first half and I’m glad I saw it. But overall, it wasn’t all that I expected it to be. I do think that the story, especially in the second half, wasted two of the most talented actors in India. I think they deserved something a little better.

The best thing to come out of this movie is that we get to see the handsome and talented South star Dhanush in Bollywood again after Raanjhana. I would like to see him offered more, better roles after Shamitabh. I think he might not be feeling very confident about delivering Hindi dialogues. Who knows, maybe that’s why he took this film because he doesn’t have to talk much. But he is a great actor and getting more and more handsome. There has to be roles suitable for him in future films (with dialogues!) where his South accent won’t be of consequence.

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