Actor Ranbir Kapoor has finally made his comeback on the big screen after a gap of four years, with filmmaker Karan Malhotra's periodic-drama Shamshera. As we slide into the film, we have no choice, but to brace for impact.
The expectations from a Ranbir Kapoor film, that too from the house of Yashraj come crashing down, as we stomach a story that is both predictable and pointless. A period film that doesn’t want to burden itself with either research or to evoke any authentic sense of place or time.
So, while the film opens in 1871, the music and motions all belong to the contemporary kitschy Bollywood. Revenge and revolt prove to be the leitmotif of the story. Central to the action is Shamshera, who is the leader of the Khameeran tribe and fights to give his people a better life. Deceit and treachery at the hands of the British push them to unspeakable horror and torture.
The slimy and conniving Daroga Shudh Singh, remarkably played by Sanjay Dutt in the film, keeps the imprisoned innocent tribals as slaves. When Shamshera’s efforts fall short we have his son Balli step in. Both are played by Ranbir Kapoor and he never misses a beat. This is why watching Shamshera tires us out and also makes us sad.
Ranbir has astonishing hold mining the weariness and fury with the grace of a consummate actor, while everything around him disintegrates. The blaring background score subsumes everything and this in addition to the fact that the plot isn’t even a sliver here.
We wait for the narrative to follow the expected trajectory, for the son to fulfill his father’s wish. But the lack of attention to detail and disregard for historical accuracy makes it a messy, supremely boring film.
Sanjay Dutt sleep walks through yet another “larger than life” antagonists role. Vaani Kapoor tries very hard but fails to bring the kind of gravitas required. Iravati Harshe, Saurabh Shukla and Ronit Roy all get token attention and for most parts, but the proceedings blur everyone in the background. Except for the CGi-generated black birds hovering over the remains of a film, that could have lent itself to something more intriguing and beguiling had the writing not been this pedestrian.
Shamshera released in theatres on 22 July.
Rating: 1.5 Out of 5 Quints