wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)

quick review:

Lovely form, little function. The attempt to throw a light on casteism gets overshadowed by the oppressive drama imposed on every single frame.

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Director: Karan Malhotra
Running time: 160 minutes
Genres: Action, Social
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We often speak of movies having their heart in the right place. And for a lot of the first half, I wanted to believe Shamshera was one of them wanting to target casteism. While entertaining at that. But very soon, it is consumed by its need for glamour and drama. Oh, so much drama! Every shot oozes drama with the over-written lines and the stylistic execution. Now, each of those scenes is consumable, even enjoyable, but becomes overwhelming when they relentlessly occur for over 2.5 hours, 160 minutes! Doesn’t help that the story doesn’t add up to anything worthwhile.

You have good things to say about it, but it is followed by a “but”.

After a first half-ish hour of brutal violence which shakes your insides with its inhumanity, the Ranbir Kapoor form of entertainment is more than welcome. Not only because of the contrast with the dark introduction to his community, the Khameran but also because of the charm he brings to his characters’ mischief and frolic. The kind of shoulder rotations that would make Salman Khan jealous. The kind of performance that makes his Balli look confident when he is and insecure when he can’t believe his love interest is actually interested in him.

But the fun is short-lived. Because, you know, people change. Unfortunately, the transitions here make the character out to be naïve, and the very premise of why he knows so little of his history, is a mystery. I already have to suspend my disbelief as I watch one breath-taking action sequence after another. The action choreography is neat, indeed. A lot of it is gruesome but crisply and stylishly executed, magnified by the IMAX experience. Zero believability, though. Over and above this, then, I am expected to believe the illogical and/or impractical situations and character arcs.

Of course, I am game for thinking of the movie as a fairy tale. A fairy tale, which has a few lovely lines, delivered with conviction by the likes of Saurabh Shukla. He does his best to channel Piyush Mishra’s conscience, making me wonder why Mishra didn’t play that character himself. Anyway. I enjoyed Ronit Roy’s presence too.

But, Shamshera is also a fairy tale with way too many film-y lines (also by Mishra) delivered with irritating energy by Sanjay Dutt. Yep, he manages to spoil some witty ones, too, like the one about the upper caste wanting to accumulate dirt, equating filth to wealth. Given the atrocities that his character executes, though, I would have expected to be scared rather than annoyed. That is why Shamshera doesn’t work, even in fairytale form. You have good things to say about it, but it is followed by a “but”.

Sona has a couple of awesome lines delivered with gumption by Vaani Kapoor. But the script thinks she is worthier of dance numbers where her waistline is the centre of attraction.

The cinematography captures the dessert in a way that I want to book tickets for Rajasthan as I was walking out of the theatre. But form cannot really take over the function of function, right?

a disservice when it makes you think that it is a child from the marriage of Thugs of Hindostan with Mard.

The premise of oppressed versus oppressor, especially in the caste dimension, is worth every repeat exposure. But, it is a disservice when it makes you think that it is a child from the marriage of Thugs of Hindostan with Mard.

Oh, here’s something that has no follow-up buts. The attempt at balance by asking the oppressor to consider why the oppressed behave the way they do is, in nice words, “yuck”. It is too nuanced a debate for a film that wishes to entertain and titillate.

Yes, the film begins well. But, it has a couple of unnecessary flashback sequences and about 40 minutes of extra material. And ultimately has little novelty in how the story pans out. Every time you wonder how the protagonist will get out of ‘this’ soup, one of the usual aids is brought to work—people power, nature’s intervention, unimaginative coincidences. :/

- meeta, a part of the audience

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So-So, by Raj : Expected more, but it delivered much less

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Lots. Gory. Lots gory.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Dance numbers with suggestive lyrics. A making out scene.
  • Concept: The oppressed fighting for freedom.
  • General Look and Feel: Stylish and serious.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
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Music Director:

Shamshera - Cast, crew, links

Music Director:
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Running time:
160 minutes

Comments (1)

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Dear Meetu, I was hoping a good film - but seriously, the director Karan who is a good crafts-person fails and what we see is a masala flick that fails to rise above past intermission. Third flop of YashRaj in a row

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