Planet Bollywood
Producer: Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, R.K.Damani, Sunil Lulla, Gauri Shinde and Abhishek Bachchan
Director: R. Balki
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush, Akshara Haasan, Ajay Jadhav and Uday Tikekar
Music: Ilaiyaraja
Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire and Kausar Munir
Genre: Drama
Recommended Audience: General
Film Released on: 06 February 2015
Reviewed by: Anish Mohanty  - Rating: 7.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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R. Balki is known to make films on unique subjects. The concept of each of the two films (‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Paa’) directed by him were fresh and out-of-the-box. After co-producing wife Gauri Shinde’s ‘English Vinglish’ in 2012, he returns to direction with Shamitabh, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush and debutant Akshara Haasan. Balki had stated, in an interview, that the film is a tribute to Amitabh Bachchan’s baritone. The promos have given reasons to believe that Balki has made another quirky film with an original concept.

Daanish (Master Shubham Tukaram Param) suffers from speech impairment but that has not deterred him from dreaming of becoming an actor. Daanish is crazy about films and loves enacting the various scenes and imitating the iconic characters played by different actors. He harbours dreams of becoming a Hindi film actor and wants to go to Mumbai. His mother feigns sickness to stop him from going to Mumbai. After the death of his mother, there is no stopping him. He lands up in the city of dreams and tries to visit film studios and meet film personalities to get a break. Nobody takes him seriously but a chance meeting with Akshara (Akshara Haasan), an assistant director, sets the ball rolling for him. Akshara requests a filmmaker to give Daanish a chance to act in his film but the director replies saying that casting an actor who can’t speak would be a foolish thing to do. Akshara’s father (Uday Tikekar), a doctor by profession, gets to know of a discovery in the field of medicine which could help speech impaired people talk. Danish flies away to Finland and the doctors introduce him to a unique ear-piece which has the ability to store the words spoken by another person with a similar ear-piece. The words would, then, seem to flow of the person who can’t speak. Danish comes back to India and along with Akshara, starts looking for a man who could be his ‘voice’. Even after auditioning a lot people, recording a lot of voices they fail to find the voice that could complement Danish’s acting abilities. They stumble upon Amitabh Sinha (Amitabh Bachchan) and feel that the voice that he has would work wonders for Danish. After relucting for a while, Amitabh agrees to lend his voice to Danish. Danish and Amitabh join forces and their combination works very well. But, soon differences creep in and egos clash. They part ways, resolving never to come together again.

The first half moves at breakneck speed and is thoroughly engaging. Yes, certain events take place in quick succession and as a result do not come across as very convincing. Despite this, the first half is very entertaining and there is nothing much to complain about. The second half starts off well but there are certain sequences where the drama does not really register an impact. Some scenes in which Amitabh and Danish are shown to be fighting over petty issues seem to be half-baked. Certain scenes, which drag on endlessly, should have been shortened for a better impact. The way the film ends is something a lot of people are going to have a debate on. Balki tries to insert some shock value with the unpredictable ending. The issue is that the climax seems rushed up and a key event that leads to the hurried climax reeks of uninspired writing and has not been executed very well. The shock value goes down drastically because of the poor execution.

The film, in ways more than one, is a tribute to Amitabh Bachchan’s baritone and the incredible actor he is. Amitabh Bachchan is brilliant as ever but the fact that his character does not have a back-story, which would justify his present state, acts as a bummer. Dhanush is brilliant and effectively brings to fore the various shades that his character has. Akshara Haasan makes an ordinary debut. Her acting is very average and she needs to work hard on her dialogue delivery. Ajay Jadhav’s comic timing is spot on and he brings some good laughs. Master Shubham Tukaram Param is terrific. He is vastly entertaining as little Daanish. Sonamoni is very good as Danish’s mother. Uday Tikekar, Asif Ali Beg, Abhimanyu Choudhry, Karim Hajee and Ivan Rodriguez leave a mark in brief roles. Many film personalities are seen in special appearances. Rekha’s cameo is the best of the lot.

R.Balki does well both as a writer and director. He sets the tone for the film with the very first scene and does not lose control over the plot for most parts. He could have handled a couple of scenes in the second half better and should have worked harder at chalking out a more convincing climax. The dialogues are very good. Ilaiyaraja’s background score is excellent but the songs are strictly average. Most of the songs take story forward and are not included without any purpose. Editing (Hemanti Sarkar) is good but should have been sharper in the second half. P.C Sreeram’s camerawork is impressive.

Shamitabh rests on a novel premise and writer-director R.Balki explores the subject pretty well. The second half of the film could have been a lot tighter and the ending leaves a lot to be desired. Having said, the film is based on a very interesting concept and is engaging throughout most of its duration. I wouldn’t mind watching it again.

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