Kaamyaab movie review: Sanjay Mishra doesn't skip a beat in a film teeming with gentle humour

Debutant director Hardik Mehta keeps the tone of Kaamyaab humorous, often satirical, tinged with pathos, and always respectful.

Udita Jhunjhunwala March 06, 2020 08:03:05 IST

3.5/5

A gentle tribute to the unsung side hero in Bollywood films, Hardik Mehta’s meta movie turns the spotlight on to the central character of Kaamyaab, Sudheer and, perforce, Sanjay Mishra.

Kaamyaab movie review Sanjay Mishra doesnt skip a beat in a film teeming with gentle humour

Sanjay Mishra and Deepak Dobriyal in a still from Kaamyaab. YouTube

Casting Mishra as an erstwhile character actor with 499 movie roles to his credit was an inspired move. Mishra, out of the shadow of any Bollywood superstar headliner, sheds his leaning on over-the-top comedy to inhabit Sudheer’s world. 

Now in his twilight years, alerted to the list of 499 entries on IMDb, Sudheer’s mission is to land one more part and round of his achievements to an impressive 500. So what if that filmography includes titles he would rather forget, such as ‘Honeymoon Akele Akele’, but there is no getting away from one iconic dialogue: "Bus, enjoying life. Aur option kya hai," that still follows him around.

A colleague encourages Sudheer to return to work, and occupy the space vacated by Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher, the latter being too busy tweeting, he explains. Sudheer himself likens character actors to potatoes — an adaptable vegetable that can be added to any dish.

Energised by the potential of a score of 500, Sudheer slips on a 1970-style wig, flashy shirt, polished shoes, and shades, and swaggers into a casting director Gulati’s (Deepak Dobriyal) office. He is caught in bit of a time warp. Through the audition, casting, and shooting processes, Sudheer fumbles to adjust to new methods of filmmaking. 

In a finely woven thread, Sudheer’s interaction with this daughter and granddaughter illustrate the complexities of living with a small-time star. However, another track about a young neighbour with a cat is superfluous. And the climax, clearly designed to earn applause, is excessive. The screenplay fumbles when it succumbs to clichés about dependence on alcohol.

Mishra goes from a crumpled has-been to a tender grandfather to a puffed up side-hero without skipping a beat. Dobriyal plays the realist ("Purane chawal se risotto banana bada mushkil hai”). Sarika Singh, as Sudheer’s daughter, symbolises the reality check for a man who has lived on the cusp of stardom and is now standing at the precipice of obscurity. 

Mehta never strays far from the meta themes though. While he doffs a hat to Tun Tun, Bob Christo, and Keshto Mukherjee among others, a host of fitting cameos make fleeting appearances too. All the while, Mehta keeps the tone humorous, often satirical, tinged with pathos, and always respectful.

Rating: ***1/2

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