Birbal, Lilliput, Manmauji, Veeju Khote. All together at a bar, sharing a drink. That one shot is the entire raison d'être of Kaamyaab written all over it – not to talk of the sheer nostalgia that it is soaked in – in a casual, throwaway manner. Hardik Mehta’s ode to the side-actor of the 70s-80s-90s cinema kicks off well. There’s the nicely observed, cloyingly sweet TV interview of “Garhwal ki prerna” (the inspiration of Garhwal), side actor Sudheer (Sanjay Mishra), who has retired into anonymity while people still remember him for his on-screen takiya kalaam (catch-phrase): “Enjoying life. What’s the option?”
- Director: Hardik Mehta
- Cast: Sanjay Mishra, Deepak Dobriyal, Sarika Singh, Avtar Gill, Birbal, Lilliput, Manoj Bakshi, Veeju Khote, Guddi Maruti, Manmauji
- Run time: 1 hour 49 minutes
- Storyline: Old-time Bollywood actor Sudheer decides to come out of retirement to do a role for achieving the record figure of 500 films
That tiny, barely recognisable face on the corner of the poster, the quintessential aloo (potato) that could adapt well with any vegetable, Kaamyaab gives little nods to them, their versatility as against the swagger of the digital generation, the intimacy and grace in the relationship of old-timers and stacked against it is the rant of the newer lot-- purane chawal se risotto kaise banayein (how to cook risotto with rice that has aged well)?
Old-time Bollywood actor Sudheer (Sanjay Mishra) decides to come out of retirement to do a role for achieving the record figure of 500 films. Will he, won’t he?
There is something simple, sincere and well-intentioned at the heart of Kaamyaab but it is also quick to get mired in similar pigeonholes that the unheralded actors found themselves trapped in; lifelong. A lot of them still do. There is a familiarity to the arc, predictability in telling and expectedness about the gags as well as the characters, whether it’s the big hero with a huge ego, the sly casting director, the competitive character actor, the struggling young actor neighbour or the grumbling, disapproving daughter; or the odd wig or the kitschy clothes or that 30ml whiskey. What’s more a seasoned Sanjay Mishra doesn’t seem invested in the character.
The finale, ingeniously juxtaposes the idea of relatability of a small star as against glamour of the bigger entity, the affection elicited by one as opposed to the huge fandom of the other and meshes it all with the idea of “success”, how one dwarfs the other and both, perhaps, are as hollow. Unfortunately, you can only read the subtext between the lines; it refuses to fly on screen. Kaamyaab stays precariously hung between a great idea and lackadaisical execution.