It is somewhat disheartening to see all the hate for Shamitabh. I watched it with my friend and co-founder at Death by Analysis, Inc. and we enjoyed the movie, except for the – I’ll get to that shortly.
The trailer shows Dhanush speaking in Amitabh’s voice, and the explanation for this is done away with in the first half. I must admit I had some difficulty initally, buying into the whys and hows of it, but I never felt as though the sequence was lacking in logic. Maybe I mean to say, within the movie, there are no inconsistencies in the way the technology is used, and the lack of contradictions more than satisfies me, and this allowed me to accept the premise of the movie. I loved the way Dhanush’s character was introduced to us, being crazy about films is taken to a different level altogether (should I get a shirt with film reel prints all over it?). I read somewhere that every problem is too conveniently done away with – him being mute, aspiring to become a Hero, meeting an Assistant Director, finding a voice, getting a break, and so on. I do not understand the displeasure over this simplistic resolving of issues because any more dwelling on issues would have made this a different movie from what it aspired to be. [For instance, if this were a Bala movie, Dhanush (while growing up in abject poverty) will be humiliated for being mute throughout his childhood, will lose his mother, and subsequently his eyesight when he is beaten by the security outside a director’s residence, and finally die when success is almost within his reach.] But Shamitabh is not that movie, it is funny and clever (right from the way the movie makes fun of Bollywood staples, or brand placement… or the scene where Rekha gives an award to Dhanush). Often, the lines may seem too clever, but we smile on, like you would indulge a precocious child, because when some of the exchanges are truly witty, you know the ones that fall flat do not matter as much. Loyalty to Ilayaraja made me listen to Shamitabh songs beforehand, but I did not remember much of it, beyond registering in the back of my head that Stereophonic Sannata reminded me of Aasaiya Kaathula Thoodhu Vittu. In the movie though, the sound is perfect! I was delighted – I am still humming Ishq Fillum two days hence.
I mentioned earlier about the kind of movie Shamitabh aspires to be, and if I were looking for adjectives, I would settle on whimsical, or quirky. Which is why the way it ended just did not work for me. Once we see Dhanush and Amitabh in the car, we know something untoward will happen (we have been prepared for it), so the unnecessarily tragic ending did not shock me to begin with. It felt as though the director decided we should not be walking out with smiles on our faces. Wouldn’t we all be just a little bit happier if the movie ends with Dhanush and Amitabh opening up about their secret and revelling in their success, and we found ourselves shaking our heads at the improbability of it all, but enjoying it nevertheless? I also had some problems with Akshara’s character – she seemed too nervous and I could not accept her as an assistant director or that she was saying her dialogues to the actors present in the scene. I had this strange idea that she was acting in a vacuum.