Kaamyaab - picture abhi baaki hai mere dost

Kaamyaab, which released in March and is now available on Netflix, is a paean to the legions of "character actors" and "side actors" that form the backdrop of movies. You see them in dozens of movies, usually in fleeting roles, but besides a handful of them, almost never know their names. The rest of them have the honor of being the answer to the tough questions on movie trivia night.


It's the story of Sudheer (Sanjay Mishra), a retired "senior artist", famous for his one dialogue that lives on in Whatsapp infamy ("Just enjoying life, aur option kya hai"), who one day during an interview, is made aware of the fact that his IMDB profile lists 499 films to his credit. He then sets off on a quixotic quest to do one more to round off his career. Sanjay Mishra is one of the finest actors around. He is capable of amazing comedy in various bhai roles like Babli Bhai in Golmaal (2006) and its sequels, Babu Bhai in Dhamaal (2007), Bhai Sahab in the superb Phas Gaye Re Obama (2010), and Oscar Bhai in Dilwale (2015). He can also do heart-rending, award-winning roles like Rajesh Bauji in Ankhon Dekhi (2014) and Vidydhar Pathak in Masaan (2015). Deepak Dobriyal, another wonderful actor, known for Omkara (2006) and Tanu Weds Manu (2011) and the recent Angrezi Medium (2020), plays the smarmy casting agent Gulati, all colored hair and mannerisms and affectations, to the hilt. Avtar Gill, one of those actors whom this movie is about, plays himself as a meta reference. There are quite a few others like him playing themselves, like Manmauji (the bald guy), Lilliput (the diminutive one), Guddi Maruti (the plump girl) and Viju Khote, who will always remain immortal as Kaalia of "mainey aapka namak khaya hai sardaar" fame in Sholay (1975).


There are great performances and some good one-liners, especially the ones lampooning all the cliched dialogues like "mainey injection de diya hai, do ghantey mein assar kar dega", and the montage of movies from the 70s and 80s mirroring ones from that era is a hoot. I loved the one when his friend, while encouraging him to get back in the game says "Om Puri ki jagah khaali hai, Paresh Rawal politics mein ghusey hai, Naseer saab ko theater se fursat nahi aur Anupam Kher saara din Twitter par hai", but the overall script and screenplay could have been spruced up and made tighter, even though it only has a running time of 1hr 45min. The climax is a little filmy, but wait for the end credits where a host of these real life actors are given thanks for the memories. Who knew that Lalita Pawar's real name was Amba Laxman Rao Sagun, Manorama's was Erin Issac Daniels, and Mac Mohan, Sambha from Sholay, was Mohan Makijany. And of course, the real Sudhir, whose name probably inspired the name of the protagonist here, best known for his roles as Jaichand in Deewar (1975) and as Som in Satte Pe Satta (1982), and whose real name was Bhagwandas Mulchand Luthria,


This is the kind of movie that is made for streaming, watched in the quiet of one's home, as it probably would never find its audience in the teeming multiplexes. Giving these unsung actors and actresses their place in the sun is the real kamyaabi.


May 8, 2020

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