Yash Raj Films’ ‘Shamshera’ is a period action-drama film produced by Aditya Chopra directed by Karan Malhotra (Agneepath – 2012 & Brothers – 2015). Shamshera is headlined by Ranbir Kapoor in a double role with Sanjay Dutt as the antagonist alongside Vaani Kapoor, playing Ranbir Kapoor’s love interest amongst Ronit Roy, Saurabh Shukla and others.
Shamshera is set in the 1800s; the story follows a dacoit tribe and their fight for independence against the British regime. The first attraction towards the film for Ranbir fans would be to see him on the big screen after a ‘Sanju’ (2018) and that too in a double role. Also, an interesting connection that Ranbir had last played Sanjay Dutt in his biopic ‘Sanju’ who plays his antagonist in this film and somehow one can find Sanjay Dutt’s (Khalnayak) influence/mannerisms/style on Ranbir Kapoor in a few shots, but that’s that.
Shamshera narrates the story of a warrior tribe – the Khameran’s and their leader played by Ranbir Kapoor (Shamshera). The Khamerans, after the defeat of the Rajputs, have to migrate to the city of Kaza. However, the residents of Kaza, oust them for their lower caste status and they face tough times. Things get worse, so much so that the residents of Kaza seek help from the British and Inspector Shuddh Singh (Sanjay Dutt) is given the responsibility. The Khamerans are attacked and defeated only for Shuddh Singh to trick them. He offers them to surrender and in return allow the tribe to settle, in a faraway Kaza Fort. However, Shuddh Singh cheats and imprisons and tortures the Khamerans. Shamshera, as the leader of the tribe makes his resentment clear to the British and Shuddh Singh, then makes yet another offer. The Khamerans should give them a huge quantity of gold and get freedom.
Shamshera is tricked again and gets killed only to leave behind his pregnant wife, who gives birth to Balli (Ranbir Kapoor). The story takes a 25 year leap à la TV soaps and we see a young and carefree Ranbir Kapoor. After a few songs and some action and dialogue-baazi, the junior Shamshera comes across the fact of the matter and takes up the cause onto himself with a few more likeminded tribesman to support him.
With his lady love Sona (Vaani Kapoor), by his side and others to help Balli/Shamshera/Ranbir Kapoor, the narrative gets into the twists and turns and more turns in unravelling the journey of Balli and his friends in accumulating gold, in the hopes of getting freedom. The journey entails if the Khamerans get freedom from the British and more specifically from Shuddh Singh. If yes, then what transpires in this fierce journey full of action and songs and what not.
If one would dig deeper, there are quite a few unexplained factors, that probably the story writers discounted and did not consider it important. The earlier pre-interval session itself has a few songs and needless to say that the same continues in the post interval sessions too with Vaani Kapoor as the icing on the cake. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the talented Ranbir Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt got short-changed by the week story and script to say the least. The story fails in engaging the audience and instead of pulling them into the action/plot, they are distracted by unnecessary songs and loud over-the-top sequences.
It seems the makers got excited by the idea of presenting a period drama (second in a row after Prithviraj), but the story played a spoil sport. The art department too could have paid more heed in the detailing. For instance, I’m unsure if there were nicely printed/etched badges on police uniform back then. Also how is it so that most of the characters of the tribe are given dark and unkempt look but Sona (Vaani Kapoor) looks fresh as if she just had a nice face wash. Also, in the entire narrative, it is just Vaani Kapoor presented in the typical costumes that she wears, adding glamour (to the wounds), is it?
Shamshera could have been great for the Ranbir Kapoor fans but it seems that probably only his fans might (if at all) appreciate the film. Sanjay Dutt was impressive in his last two offerings – Prithviraj and KGF 2, but here the character seems half cooked and dwindles between being funny and dangerous not knowing which way to look at. Vaani Kapoor, as in most action films, has nothing much to offer but is passable. Senior actors like Ronit Roy and Saurabh Shukla suit the required characters.
Most of the other cast have tried to deliver as per the director’s instructions and satisfaction.
As for music, Mithoon’s music is a big disappointment as compared to his background score which is still better. However, one would find semblance in the music from what we have heard in the past.
All in all, the long wait of watching Ranbir Kapoor (and Sanjay Dutt face off) on the big screen seems like a wasted effort. A wakeup call for the makers one could say.
Director: Karan Malhotra
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Vaani Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Ronit Bose Roy
Run Time: 158.43 minutes