Kaamyaab Review: Now on Netflix

4.0 rating based on 1,234 ratings

When I watched the trailer of Har Kisse Ke Hisse: Kaamyaab back in February, I was super pumped to watch this movie. This is the exact film that must be watched on the big screen, in cinema halls, while it also has the heart to find a nice, longlasting shelf on online streaming platforms. So when this disastrous coronavirus pandemic stopped me from watching the film in theatres, I was overjoyed when it arrived on Netflix on May 3rd. Needless to say, this feeling of being overjoyed stayed even after I watched Kaamyaab.

The Premise

Starring Sanjay Mishra and Deepak Dobriyal, Kaamyaab is about Sudheer, a yesteryear Bollywood character actor who is currently washed-up, jaded by how the audience and industry has only favoured the ‘hero’ of films. He has been reduced to a typecast: the sidekick best friend, the #2 male role, always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

What changes things?

During an interview, Sudheer learns that he has completed 499 films. His career spanned decades, and now he’s an alcoholic who earns money through a shop. Despite his daughter’s constant pleas to have him stay with her family, he is adamant on living alone in his old-Bombay apartment. His loneliness strikes the reader, and the childish spark in his eyes is heartening. The spark only shows up when he decides to make his 500th film. After a failed audition, a casting director and old friend, Gulati (played by Dobriyal), helps him out with getting a role in a comeback film. Auditioning doesn’t come naturally to him, after all these years, but Dobriyal helps him find that sweet, subtle, soft spot. And Sudheer gets the part.

How the mighty fall

Unfortunately, Sudheer’s alcoholism and general anxiety obstructs his first day of shooting. After a failed 25 or so takes, the crew and cast are fed up, and Sudheer, dejected. He chooses to get drunk instead of attending the party that his daughter and granddaughter had organised for him, and loses everything that day: the film, his family’s respect, and his friendship with Gulati.

Strange friendships help

Sudheer befriends a young girl Isha, played by Isha Talwar, who came to Bombay to realise her dreams of making it in the Bollywood industry. He fails to understand how today’s youth no longer rely on big studios, as Isha is already a star on a YouTube web series. She slowly becomes his friend, and he realises that the small roles that he had played over the years still survive, even today. The youth love to repeat Sudheer’s iconic dialogues, and respect him as one of the greats.

When Isha leaves Bombay to go back to her family, it hits Sudheer that he has taken advantage of his loving family. By rejecting their pleas for him to live with them, by never prioritising them, he has hurt them greatly over the years. The only way to make up for all this is to prove that he care about his daughter and his family more than his craze to finish his 500th film.

Sudheer’s greatest performance

Sudheer sacrifices his chance to re-enter the acting business, by racing to make it to his granddaughter’s school dance performance. There one thing leads to another, and he ends up having to entertain the audience (parents and relatives of the kids). This is his moment to shine. And shine, he does.

He plays every role he has ever acted in his career–from gundas to sons, from doctors to policemen, from lawyers to dons. His daughter is touched by his gesture, and his granddaughter is filled with pride and love. His greatest performance was for his own family, and the response he received surpassed any box office numbers of critical ratings a film would have gotten him.

Where the film wins

Apart from Sanjay Mishra’s obvious brilliant acting skills, it’s every actor in Kaamyaab who gives their 100%. Mishra plays Sudheer with such depth, such grave sadness and pain, and yet with so much childish innocence and excitement, that the audience can’t help but sympathise with him. We feel Sudheer’s regrets, his struggles, but also chide him for the mistakes that he has made. Everybody else, from Deepak Dobriyal to Isha Talwar, is clearly committed to their character, playing them with honesty. Sarika Singh, who plays Sudheer’s daughter Bhavna, is so subtly expressive that she breaks your heart when she cries because her father hurt her. She is strong, generous, but carries pain in her eyes. She is a mother who loves unconditionally, but also a daughter who, unfortunately, cannot depend on her selfish father. It is an emotional rollercoaster.

Apart from the acting, the film is very well directed by debutant Hardik Mehta. It’s quirky, fun, and entertaining throughout. There are no filmy musical numbers, but the three songs from the film: Tim Tim Tim (Bappi Lahiri), Paaon Bhaari, and Sikandar (Hariharan) have nostalgic feels, besides being upbeat and perfect for the emotional journey the film takes you on. The cinematography draws the viewer in and shows us both the filmy Bombay and the familial, residential Bombay. The dialogues are so natural and authentic that you believe every character deeply. Red Chillies has done a great job producing this movie this important. Kaamyaab is as relevant as it is entertaining.

Ultimately, this is a feel-good film. It teaches you that there are no small parts, that every role is important, and that character actors contribute insurmountably to cinema. Koi kaam chota nahi hota hai, Lakshman!

Har Kisse Ke Hisse: Kaamyaab released on Netflix on May 3rd!

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