Written By : Simran Saini
New Delhi, India
Photo: Official Facebook Page
Film Review: Kaamyaab (Round Figure)
Director: Hardik Mehta
Cast: Sanjay Mishra, Deepak Dobriyal.
In Hindi cinema, the line between the new and the old is not a thin one. To the general public, who goes to the cinema only for ‘entertainment’ (read item numbers, popular actors and fascinating plots), this line may be thick, but almost a blur. If you look closely though, you may read the words ‘critically acclaimed’ engraved on this line. This term has become quite common these days, among the viewers of Hindi cinema. Especially for the urban youth, this term defines cinematic experience. Movies like City lights, Masaan, NH 10, Shahid etc – these are realistic, heart touching movies that provoke thoughts, stir deep emotions and serve entertainment on a platter of sane plot and raw acting, served with a side of good music sans the unnecessary dancing. Although Bollywood is also a part of ‘Hindi cinema’ and it dominates the box office, with its big budget films, its mainstream actors and directors, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that there is a part of Hindi cinema that has cut itself loose from Bollywood, and its star-studded business. Thus, since 2010, and the career dawn of many young writers and directors, the distinction between the old and the new, and between Bollywood and the ‘real’ Hindi cinema has become quite evident.
Hardik Mehta’s debut feature film ‘Kaamyaab – Round Figure’ is another breath of fresh air. The film is a human drama based on a character actor from the 80s/90s Bollywood. The character actors you have seen over and over again, but do not remember the names of – ‘Sambha’ and ‘Kaliaa’ from Sholay, the police officer from Zanjeer and Don, the doctor, the daaku, the lawyer, the hero’s best friend… These character actors added a life to the film, but the audience only ever remembers the hero. Mehta’s film is the story of one such retired character actor, who decides to come out of retirement to set a record of ‘500’, after he learns that he had worked in 499 films! The film is a narrative of this quest for the round figure and a record-breaking role for which he would be remembered forever.
Kaamyaab is along the lines of other films that Hardik Mehta has previously worked on. The realistic and emotional themes are also evident in his previous projects such as Trapped (2017), Lootera (2013), and Queen (2014), among others. Mehta, as a co-writer, builds relatable characters, portraying their raw emotions and struggles. Thus, even though the film in question is the story of an actor, it still, somehow becomes the story of every other middle-class man, trying to achieve something big in life. The idea of achieving the ‘round figure’, speaks volumes about the society’s obsession with ‘perfection’ and ‘success’. As a director, Mehta tries to achieve an emotional connect between the characters and the viewer. The camera operations draw attention to facial expressions, and evoke a certain atmosphere that draws the viewer to the emotion being dealt with. Like everything else about the film, the dialogues, especially the comic ones, are quite raw and bold. All the characters are independent, strong, unafraid of expressing their emotions, and yet they display an underlying sense of loneliness and personal struggle. Even though the film is ‘about’ the life of the character actor, the writer-director has succeeded in sufficiently exploring the other characters and related themes, in relation to the life of the protagonist.
Here, the choice of cast is also to be applauded. Sanjay Mishra, who plays the protagonist, seems to be fitting the character perfectly, since the audience would also remember him as a character actor, and never the hero. Deepak Dobriyal (of Tanu Weds Manu fame), who plays a casting director in the film, adds the element of observational comedy that is so adored by the viewers of Hindi cinema these days. Dobriyal, who has also always played supporting roles, adds a new light and life to any film that he works in. Other new faces, such as the characters played by the protagonist’s daughter, grand-daughter, neighbor and the casting director’s assistant, have also all done a commendable job and add to the success of the film.
Director Hardik Mehta receiving audience award for “Kaamyaab” at South Asian Film Festival (FFAST), Paris in 2019
One of the best themes of the film is that of a family’s role in a person’s life. The climax is a perfect portrayal of the same. When the curtains draw on him, and everyone turns towards the ‘hero’, only his daughter, son-in-law and grand-daughter are looking at him, with tears in their eyes. There are many other emotional scenes in the film, which have been filmed in a way that you would find yourself lost in them. Themes like generation gap, human connections, modern technology, loneliness of urban life etc. are also a part of the film. Moreover, just like the many famous dialogues from the 80s that people remember till date – I can think of dialogues such as ‘Mogambo khush hua’ and ‘Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi namumkin hai’ – the film also has its own unique dialogue in its parallel universe of the 80s Bollywood: ‘Bass enjoying life. Aur option kya hai!’ This one is sure to become a subject of many WhatsApp forwards and Facebook statuses in the near future.
With its subtle observational comedy, intense emotional scenes, and flawless performances, this film undoubtedly deserves to be listed under the ‘critically acclaimed’ movies that people talk about these days. A film on the life of a character actor might not be mainstream, and may sound a bit daring, but Hardik Mehta’s genius has succeeded in making a film that talks about not just one, but many underlying ‘characters’.