• Shashwat Chaturvedi

Kaamyaab: A Story Hidden In Plain Sight

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

A wholehearted tribute to Bollywood and its ways, Kaamyaab brings the story of a side actor into the spotlight

2020 has us all in a tizz. Right from the Australian Bush fires in January to the world grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic; nothing seems to be going our way. But for cinephiles like me, this seems like a great opportunity to sit back and watch all the movies from all across the world that were just on my list, accumulating dust and being ignored more than texts from my annoying relatives. Last night, my dad and I were trying to find a good film to watch and I saw Sanjay Mishra’s poster with ‘Har Kisse Ke Hisse: Kaamyaab’ written over it, and well, we decided to give it a shot and as it turns out, it was for the best.

Kaamyaab is a gem of a film that showcases the struggles of an actor that you’ve always seen, in the sidelines, along with the lead but whose story is shrouded in mystery. Directed by Hardik Mehta, the movie highlights the story of one such side actor, Sudheer (played by Sanjay Mishra) who lives alone at his flat with alcohol and his late wife’s favourite transistor making for some barebones company. After playing roles of the man standing behind the hero’s dead body, a doctor who comes up with the bad news or the thief who gets shot by the villain, Sudheer had retired long way back due to an unintended controversy he became a part of. His most popular work has been as Shera, a character from a retro hit from the 80s. The movie starts with Sudheer being interviewed by a local Garhwali channel with a crew that resonates with an old-fashioned TV channel like Doordarshan. We see a very helpless and disinterested Sudheer sitting on his sofa constantly explaining to them that he hasn’t done anything great with the least enthusiasm and ironically delivering his popular dialogue on the request of the reporter, which says, “Bas enjoying life. Aur option kya hai?” To his ignorance, the reporter showed him his IMDb page from where he came to now that he had done over 499 films in his entire career. The movie then takes you towards Sudheer’s journey full of ups and mostly downs for getting a role for his 500th film with the help of his actor-turned casting director friend, Gulati (played by Deepak Dobriyal), who looks like a character inspired from Mukesh Chhabra.

The writers, Radhika Anand and Hardik themselves have done justice to the film by maintaining a satirical, humorous and emotional tone throughout while also making Sudheer’s character hit closer to home while he faces the uncertainty of the new age of digital filmmaking after years of being a reel actor. My favourite line has to be, “Dekh, Om Puri Ki jagah khaali hai, Paresh Rawal chale gaye Politics mein, Naseer bhai lage hue hai theatre mei aur vo Anupam Kher lage rehte hai Twitter mein. Sudheer, teri line clear hai yaar.” There are many clever analogies made with a lot of unsung heroes in cricket as well. In one scene, Gulati refers to himself as Steve Bucknor, who used to be a less popular batsman who ended up becoming a world-famous umpire so that a batsman is never treated unfairly. The film is filled with witty and crisp meta jokes like these and leaves you smiling throughout. It leaves you to join the dots and that makes it for a good conversation nugget if you are watching the film with your family like I was.

This has to be Sanjay Mishra’s best work for a very long time. He has single-handedly made sure that you don’t distract yourself from looking at your mobile screens checking any notification and empathize with Sudheer’s struggle. On the other hand, Deepak Dobriyal has again not disappointed us with his charming role as Gulati and has supported Sanjay Mishra very well. The movie looks even more believable and realistic because of the supporting cast it has. Right from Avtar Gill (playing himself) to Amitabh Srivastava, Bacchan Pachehra, Guddi Maruti, Nasirr Khan etc. Obviously, you don’t know who these people are, but you’ll surely know them after searching them on Google and seeing their faces. And that’s the entire point of the film. These are one of the finest artists in the industry and the majority of them have worked in more been referred to as ‘aaloo’ (potato) as character actors because potato can fit into any dish. Casting these artists shows how wholeheartedly Hardik Mehta has associated himself with this project.

Kaamyaab is the closest film to depict the underbelly of the Indian film industry after Zoya Akhtar’s Luck by Chance (2009). It’s a tribute to the unsung artists in Bollywood who are famous for their small roles but not known by their names. It’s a tribute to the legendary actor, Late Viju Khote, whom you’ve seen as Kalia in Sholay, Robert in Andaaz Apna Apna, and Shambu Kaka in Golmaal 3. He’s worked in over 443 films in his illustrious career and also had a cameo as himself in this movie too.

Kaamyaab is a breath of fresh air as Bollywood seems to have lost the plot while coming up with quality content in the past 2-3 years. 2017 had Trapped, 2018 had Andhadhun that kept you glued to your seats, and 2019 only had Gully Boy in which you’ve been so involved with the protagonist and empathized with them till the very end. It’s a reminder to Bollywood that even today a unique story like this can be told with such innocence making sure that it also sticks to reality all the time. Watching Kaamyaab with my father was fun because every 10 minutes I heard him exclaim,

“Yeh toh Birbal hai.”

“Arre Viju Khote?”

“Arre yeh toh Baghban mei Amitabh ka beta bana tha na?”

It was a candid experience that I had when I watched the film with my father. it seemed that the outside world was just on the outside for the evening and we had been successful in distracting ourselves from all the morbidity out there. However, not every parent is a fan of watching dark and intense shows or movies that we millennials love to binge on all the online platforms. Hence, I would definitely recommend you to watch Kaamyaab with your family and have a great time witnessing the bitter-sweet harsh reality of the Indian Film Industry that you wouldn’t have been aware of before.


This article is brought to your eyes by Shashwat Chaturvedi, a guest writer. He is a cinephile and has grown up watching films and TV shows of all sorts. His favourite being The Office which he can quote at any time of the day. He also dabbles in acting and film-making at times and you can follow him on Instagram @aur_chaubeyji to get to know him better.

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