For a film that’s supposed to be a satire on how the film industry works and what it takes to protect your vision from the big bad world of formula, Shortkut ends up as an extremely dishonest film. But yes, it is passably entertaining too.
Right from stealing the tagline and the climax from Bowfinger: The Con Is On, Shortkut: The Con Is On is one big con job and more so if you’ve seen any of the earlier versions it is based on — Bowfinger (where a struggling filmmaker makes his film despite all odds and Hollywood conventions), Udayanaanu Thaaram (where a struggling filmmaker makes his film despite all odds and Malayalam film industry conventions), Vellithirai (where a struggling filmmaker makes his film despite all odds and Tamil film industry conventions).
Apparently, the filmmakers did not credit the original writer-director Roshan Andrews (who wrote the Malayalam version) for the story after buying the rights to the film. Roshan ought to be pleased with that because this movie does not have half the heart of the earlier films.
Also, it helps to NOT have a legal notice in your hands just in case the studio that produced Bowfinger finds out about the copyright infringement of their official tagline. So, apart from the inspired making and production aspects, what’s wrong with Shortkut?
Well, for some reason, Neeraj Vora populates his chawl with a motley crew of simpleton stereotypes — kind-hearted old men, buck-tooth geeks and buxom bais — who look like they have just escaped the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Any wonder then that the writer who lives there can’t finish his script?
As always, the hero with a writer’s block has crumpled sheets of paper carefully strewn around the room, even if he’s typing away on a computer (where all he needs to do is hit the delete key) unless he needs to print it out to realise it’s all rubbish.
It’s all so Eighties when a scriptwriter jumps in delight saying “I got my climax” and the producer promptly congratulates him to no end like he’s never read a script before.
Poor little Amrita Rao is terribly miscast as the makers try hard to squeeze out some vague sort of sex appeal from this girl child who cannot look slutty even if she streaked. She’s quite effective in the scenes that need drama but is largely wasted in a two-bit bikini role.
Akshaye Khanna is a picture of intensity and sincerity. He rarely needs to act here. A slightly more comic actor could’ve added a whole new dimension to this serious character.
But the comic actor par excellence Arshad Warsi is the biggest letdown in the film with his natural dialogue delivery sounding more and more rehearsed with every role he’s done since Circuit. To see an actor reduced to repeating a type he developed is more tragic than comic.
The lesser said about the support cast the better. They are plain annoying as they try to look cute and one gag involving everyone saying “I’m a producer too” is guaranteed to make you gag.
And what’s with 80s DD sitcom music to cue-in the laughs? What next? A laughter track? Instead of taking a ‘Shortkut’ by ripping off an old inspired film, couldn’t they have at least updated the film a little, now that we’ve seen better films on the subject like the recent Luck By Chance?Shortkut: The Con is On
Director: Neeraj Vora
Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Arshad Warsi, Amrita Rao
Storyline: Struggling filmmaker must make a film with an old friend who stole his script and became a Superstar overnight
Bottomline: The film itself is emblematic of the conflict in it — Hypocritical filmmaking!SUDHISH KAMATH