Mumbai — The Hindi proverb “Der Se Aaye, Durust Aaye” (Late but Safe) seemed to apply to the first-look event of “Shamitabh,” which writer-director R. Balki held at downtown Eros cinema at Churchgate Jan. 6.
The reason for this unique choice was not that his office is at nearby Nariman Point, but because his main character is of an old superstar from the days when single-screens ruled. Eros, with its art-deco looks and vintage (if refurbished) interiors, is the kind of movie hall that does not exist any more in the suburbs – in the mainland we only have Regal and Liberty among the respectable movie-halls.
Balki apologized for the two-hour delay because most of the celebs had to make way through traffic to the South of the city, and he quipped that since he does that every single day, it is nice for them to also have that experience once in a while!
While co-producers Sunil Lulla and Abhishek Bachchan could not make it, two of the others, Gauri Shinde, who is Balki’s better half, and R. Jhunjhunwala, also co-producers, were present on the dais along with the director, Dhanush and Amitabh Bachchan (the title comes from the last two letters of Dhanush’s name and Amitabh). The story is kept under wraps but the buzz is that it is a tussle between a superstar and a rising one. Akshara Haasan was also present and so was mother Sarika.
Dhanush admitted that he did the film entirely because he was getting to work with Bachchan, and so did famed South DOP, P.C. Sreeram, who was also present. Akshara added that she was nervous amidst such big names, but Bachchan stated that the young lady was lying, and that she was actually so confident that she made Dhanush and him nervous.
Generous in his compliments, Bachchan, when asked if Dhanush and Akshara showed signs of their legacy just as Rajnikanth (Dhanush’s father-in-law) and Kamal Haasan (Akshara’s father) had shown when he worked with both in “Geraftaar” (1985), Bachchan stated that he thought that his co-stars would make and be their own legacies, and spoke (obviously) from personal experience how the people unfairly expected children and even siblings of big names to compare with them.
Revealing a secret about the film, he stated that Balki and he had taped all the dialogues of the film even before the shoot when they did not know which actors would do the other roles and how. The tape was played out during the shooting as well and the final dubbing was also based on it. He also added, “Every two or three years, Balki comes to me with this strange script and tells me that I have to do it!”
After “Cheeni Kum” and “Paa,” the duo again comes together with the third force in the trilogy, composer Ilaiyaraaja, who was absent. After a teaser and the trailer, the song “Piddly” was also shown to the audience in the jam-packed hall to thunderous ovation. Incidentally, the scene outside the movie-hall resembled the grand old premieres that were held at this theatre in a bygone era, with crowds thronging the area in hordes to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars.
Watch the official trailer of “Shamitabh” below: