Kaamyaab  Review: A Partially Successful Film of Honest Intent
A film resembles a journey. It can flow with pre-determined objectives, or it can occur as an event in time, organically and destinationless, devoid of the baggage of reaching somewhere but finding itself in the course. It can also be a compound of the two approaches. But pre-determined objectives create expectations, set a measurement scale to calculate the degree of the film’s success, and create hindrances to the creation of organic narratives. These are not absolute parameters to critique a film, however, for a film must be primarily judged on experience and craft. Hardik Mehta’s feature film debut “Kaamyaab” is one such film that happens with a motive, and it chooses to carry its motive throughout the course of the film.
“Kaamyaab” is about the character actors of Indian cinema, narrated and honored through a chapter in its protagonist’s life, Sudheer, who, upon the realization that he has 499 acting roles to his credit, attempts to render a final act and complete filmography of 500 credits. What follows is an overt exploration of the hardships of the “potatoes” of cinema who fit anywhere and everywhere but never receive the center stage. Mehta writes a poignant tale of everyday struggles of those who work as tirelessly as anyone else involved in the production of a film but fail to garner a recognition that can take forward their identity.
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He brings an ensemble of yesteryear’s screen inhabitants, invoking a strong nostalgia and thrill when you try to recollect all the films in which you saw them, knowing for sure that you have seen each. He mimics one of the usual occurrences of Hindi cinema, melodramatic one-liners that were made popular through purely circumstantial episodes, subsequently popularizing the faces who mouthed them. He ensures that those alive, are incorporated, and those dead, are remembered and paid homage. He skillfully exposes the changed filmmaking environment and sensibilities of the current era, compared to the era that went, so that a challenge becomes inherent to the screenplay. He leaves no stone unturned to tell their story and honor them in numerous ways. But unfortunately, honest intentions eclipse the entire film and brilliancy gets somewhere diluted.
To the film’s merit, caricaturisations are nonexistent. I feared that the film would be laden with stereotyped ideas and characters. It was also one of the vulnerabilities that the film will exist in a contrived crude environment to make us sympathize with its characters. Exploiting conventions and resort to generalizations for temporary pleasure and nostalgia is the route of an escapist. Hardik Mehta isn’t one. You keep your reservations in your hand and the film progresses to defy each until the arrival of a predictable failure to disrupt the ‘everything-nice’ schedule. Preventing this train wreck would have made the sequences too smooth and favorable to be plausible. Not preventing it turned the film formulaic. I am not contradicting myself here. Probably, the writers acted out of necessity. But conflict can occur in several ways. And this was the easiest one.
Mehta balances a family crisis with that of the central plot, to grant an exploratory tone to the story. And despite allowing Sanjay Mishra to dominate the screen, he distributes significant screentime to other actors. The film concludes with an ending that chooses importance over happiness. That being said, a lot of homages that take place in the film compromise with its organic flow, as a consequence of which the film’s existence gets overshadowed by its objectives.
Piyush Puty’s cinematography is devoted to creating an atmosphere of stardom and applause when required while keeping it grounded in the routine portions of the film. Sanjay Mishra doesn’t need validation. He has proven his abilities. He manages to keep the name. Even when the subplots do not work in the best possible way, actors do a fine job in playing their part. It is, as aforementioned, a pleasure indeed to watch familiar faces again. And who are we kidding? If we come across them, we will also end up demanding to listen to their epic dialogue, remark, or monologue which they said in some film to some Maa or Lion or Gabbar or Vijay, as some dacoit or inspector or doctor or help.