Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film and the weekend biggie Shamshera. I have been time and again repeating myself that Bollywood is going through one of its most lean patches ever. While some of the blame is on the filmmakers and the writers, the audience has really become unforgiving. In fact, there is a general consensus of boycotting Bollywood for some odd reason. So everytime there is a big new release, people are ready with their daggers to attack the film from all ends. The case in point is Shamshera which was instantly written off as another Thugs Of Hindostan and how it is ‘The Worst Film Of The Year’ and films like Heropanti 2 and even Rashtra Kavach Om are better films than this. For one, I was stumped at this comparison because Thugs was a very bad film and Heropanti 2 and Rashtra Kavach Om were even more bad. Yes, its trailer didn’t look as promising as it should have but was the film really that bad? With much skepticism, I entered the theatre to watch Shamshera, is it worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Set in the late 1800s, Shamshera follows the story of a warrior race fighting for their freedom against the British amidst some caste level issues as well. The story is really good and it definitely had me intrigued with this basic plotline. The screenplay standing at almost 160 minutes did seem daunting and a little too stretched for my liking. The screenplay here requires an indepth reasoning as to what worked and what didn’t, so here we go!
The drama opens with the origin story of Shamshera who was the leader of the pack. This origin story was intriguing and it had me glued to the world which the filmmakers were trying to create. The proceedings were interesting with the right amount of twists and turns which nicely fleshed out the main protagonist(in this era) along with his nemesis. At this point I was wondering what was the fuss all about the criticism which the film was receiving. But immediately after this extended origin story and about 35 to 40 minutes into the film, its problems begin to creep in.
The second origin story of Shamshera’s son Balli is a bit of a start and stop one and nowhere close to the impressive premise of his father. This is where the writing slightly falters wherein it tries to rebuild the world once again. Probably the structure of the screenplay of opening with Balli’s character only to discover about Shamshera through a series of flashbacks may have been a better approach. You do get a feel of bits of Bahubali and KGF while watching the drama here. But the drama is consistently watchable especially through the first hour which has some breathtaking visuals.
The issue and a major one begins in the second hour. It almost seemed to be that there was no script in the second hour. The entire second half just goes for a toss wherein the drana just acts as a bit if a filler. I really wished the focus was on the characterization which would allow the audience to connect with the characters. But here the cardboard cut-out characters just do not seem to connect. To give you a perspective, a few of them die but you as a viewer do not feel a thing. There was this one action sequence in the jungle which I really liked(juat before the climax). But apart from that the writing does go downhill.
This brings me to the final act and this is probably the worst climax I have seen in a very long time. I will not give out spoilers but this was a ridiculous finale(atleast the trigger moment) which for me was laughable. It is here that I felt some of its criticism was justified because in the name of creative liberty, the filmmaker did take the audiences’ intelligence for granted. Even Rajamouli had attempted this in Bahubali 2 but he had done it in a slightly more convincing manner. Here the conviction was missing and it almost seemed like an after thought. So overall, the screenplay does not do justice to the scale of the film.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are excellent and one of the unsung heroes of the film. Some of the most beautiful gems are written here and waiting to be discovered. The music is excellent and I really enjoyed the songs. However, a drawback is that the songs deter the flow of the drama instead of progressing it. The BGM is pretty good as well. The cinematography is excellent with decently crafted VFX too. The team handling the colour grading and poster design at YRF should be held up. This is the third instant of a YRF film reeking of yellow in so many sequences. The thought process is uni-dimensional and it needs to change. Another drawback is the marketing team of YRF which is non existant. For some reason, YRF is not marketing their films at all, relying on the word of mouth even for big films like these. To give you a perspective had JugJugg Jeeyo not been marketed, it would not have touched the break even mark given the merits of the film. Marketing ensures an opening and that is where YRF lost it again! The action sequences are decent here. Director Karan Malhotra misses the mark. Films like these really make you appreciate the works of Bhansali and Rajamouli even more. The vision is so important for a filmmaker and that is where Karan Malhotra falters. He may have the skills(as seen in Agneepath) but vision is equally important particularly in films made on a grand scale.
The performances are really good here. Saurabh Shukla, Iravati and Ronit Roy have their moments to shine. Vaani Kapoor looks pretty and dances well but I did have some issues with her costumes(not in a controlling manner, everyone is free to wear what they feel like) as the costumes did not go with the era in which the drama is set in. Also, she needs to be smarter with her film choices. Sanjay Dutt as Shuddhi is excellent and he does a swell job. The reel Sanju aka Ranbir Kapoor aka Shamshera aka Balli is outstanding in every single scene. The man gives it his all even when this ship begins to sink. Which is why I feel sorry for Ranbir because this was a brilliant performance. Hope things change with Brahmastra.
Shamshera is a visual delight with excellent performances but the writing and direction make this ship sink. The film is better than Thugs Of Hindostan but the writing doesn’t justify its scale. Available in a theatre near you.