Shamshera – Review

It’s been a while since I have written review for any movie but yesterday I watched a movie so atrocious that it compelled me to find time from my schedule to write about it.

I have seen many bad movies in the past but it is very rare that any movie has made me feel so angry. Yes. I felt many emotions while watching the movie but anger would be the foremost. Hence the decision to write about it.

I am sure that most people who were interested in watching this movie have already seen it. If you haven’t and you continue to read this post you may not feel like watching it anyway. Nevertheless, here is your spoiler warning.

The movie is set up in a fictional desert village in 1871 India and is about the Khameran people and how they faced discrimination at the hands of upper caste Hindus. Movie starts with the narrator giving us this background and then spends 30 minutes telling us the story of Shamshera, a character played by Ranbir Kapoor. So that there is no confusion what the movie is about the word caste is used in almost every dialog.

Because of the atrocities faced by them Khameran people become dacoits under the leadership of Shamshera and starts robbing upper caste people of the village. All these people then approach the helpful British guy and pay them a lot of gold to get rid of this menace called Shamshera. Enter Shuddh Singh, the character played by Sanjay Dutt, who is a Daroga in British Police and he cons Shamshera and his people into surrendering only to hold the entire tribe captive inside an abandoned fort.

Khameran people are tortured and Shamshera feels guilty of putting them in this position. So he strikes a bargain with the British guy to get his people freed in exchange for double the amount of gold they were paid to capture them. He tries to flee the captivity to secure the gold but is captured and killed. Evil Daroga Shuddh Singh makes everyone believe that he was a traitor to his tribe.

The movie then jumps 25 years in future and we are shown Balli. Shamshera’s son, who is also played by Ranbir Kapoor. Balli doesn’t like being called a Khameran and wants to join British police. Shuddh Singh asks Balli to torture a little boy if he wants to join the police and he refuses instead accepts being tortured himself. This changes him completely and now he wants to know the truth about his father’s death and wants to work for the Khameran cause. He manages to escape from the fort in his very first attempt and once outside a white horse is conveniently waiting for him. He rides the horse and conveniently bumps into the person who had been waiting for his father for last 25 years.

Then with the help of this person, played by Saurabh Shukla, Balli gathers a bunch of Khameran people who had been living in disguise for last 25 years and creates his gang. With the help of his girlfriend, who is a dancer, they start robbing rich people of the village so that they can gather enough gold to fulfil the condition agreed by his father.

At this point movie introduces the British Colonel who has come to stop this new Shamshera. He is a compassionate guy who is sympathetic to Shamshera’s cause. He even stops evil Shuddh Singh from committing atrocities multiple times. In this process Shuddh Singh even shoots him and many other compassionate British soldiers.

There are many problems in this movie but the biggest one according to me is that you are setting up a movie in British India and showing Britishers as good guys and upper class Indians as real villain. Please note that there is not a single non-Khameran (barring one guy whose role is so insignificant the you wont even remember him) Indian character who is a good guy. Even Winston Churchill could not have come up with such propaganda. The movie even ends with Balli killing Shuddh Singh showing glorious Union Jack flying atop the fort gate signifying the victory of good over evil. It is impossible for me to believe that this movie was made by an all Indian cast and crew, I so much wish that the cast and crew had revolted and disowned the movie. On the other hand I am glad that audience rejected this crap propaganda and sent a clear message to the makers that we are no longer fools to consume any stupid crap you feed us.

Even if we keep the politics and misplaced social messaging aside the movie suffers from bad writing and direction throughout. Audience is supposed to feel for the Khameran people but the way it has been edited, you feel no emotional connect with them. (You are shown a mad-max style scene where all these Khameran captives are receiving water thrown from fort walls, only to be later shown that there is an easily accessible well inside the fort. The well plays an important role.) We should have felt invested in Balli’s quest but the movie completely fails into making you feel for the father-son bond. (How can you, when Balli himself is shown mocking his father being called a traitor and joking about it.) The love story between Ranbir and Vani’s character is sudden and fails to connect with the audience. (They are out-of-the blue shown dancing together and you are supposed to believe that they are in love.) We are supposed to believe that Shuddh Singh is this evil mastermind while he at times comes across as a comedic figure. (Shuddh Singh does not realize Balli is Shamshera’s son despite they having exact same face. He connect the dots only when he sees Shamshera’s old wife.) There is a significant role of crows, which is left completely unexplained. (Appearance of crows is sudden and out-of-the blue, without any explanation.)

Special effects are very low quality. There is a scene involving a train, which was done better by the Burning Train 45 years back. Watch out for the baby Vani Kapoor is supposed to be holding during the climax of the movie. The songs except for the title track are all misplaced and affect the pace of the movie. Ranbir and Sanjay have acted well in some scenes but that cannot be enough to tolerate a torture of a movie like this.

I wish the cast and crew involved with this atrocity of a movie repent and never again attempt making something like this. I pray to god that audience keeps on rejecting such movies and makes sure they suffer huge losses, because they deserve it.

Maybe someday in future if I find time and inclination, I would also write about how they could have done better; just to show how your misplaced politics can make a mess of a potential opportunity to create something great.

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