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Entertainment Review: Showtime

An arrogant star who lives in a bungalow called Jannat? The same guy spends time in a farmhouse growing radish? Half the fun of watching a show about the movie industry is guessing who’s who. In Showtime, produced by Karan Johar, created by Sumit Roy, directed by Mihir Desai and Archit Kumar, that little thrill is taken away; the pieces of the jigsaw are muddled, so that the characters could be somebody, could be nobody—like meeting a vaguely familiar face on a foggy night. Then, there are real stars like Jahnvi Kapoor and Mrunal Thakur doing walk-ons.

No film critic actually lost their job by panning the film of a major production house, but Mahika Nandy (Mahima Makwana) does. Then to her surprise, she is handed over Viktory Studio by its elderly owner, Viktor Khanna (Naseeruddin Shah),  disillusioned by the money-making ambition of his son Raghu (Emraan Hashmi). The ailing old man believes cinema is “dharm” not “dhanda” and names his grand-daughter from his first wife as his heir. Mahika did not even know that she was related to Khanna, but when the aggressive Raghu tries to bully her, she decides she will accept her legacy and make films that would make her grandfather proud. On her side are her boyfriend Prithvi (Vishal Vashishtha) and Khanna’s old associate Deven (Denzil Smith).

Raghu plans to start his own studio and grab the projects under development at Viktory, one of them being a period movie,1875, that needs the star power of Armaan Singh (Rajeev Khandelwal), and he is wooed by both Mahika and Raghu. On the sidelines are Armaan’s wife (Shriya Saran) who wants to make a comeback, an ‘item’ girl and Raghu’s girlfriend (Mouni Roy), who covets a lead role, a seedy moneybag (Vijay Raaz), who wants to launch his loutish son,  and an old-money movie financier (Shataf Figar).

Mousy Mahika suddenly transforms into a power-suited boss girl, who can match Raghu’s wiliness with her own, but even she is thrown when faced with star tantrums and contractual jugglery. She thought she was being clever by signing on a “Cannes” winner as director for the costume drama, but the man is out of his depth with Armaan’s script-changing demands, because he cannot bear the leading lady getting a better scene than him.  Who said making movies was easy, right?

The situations are quite implausible, but still, the scene is set for a showdown between Mahika and Raghu, and the first part of the season ends after four episodes, with a promise of continuation in June.  Which is always a risk as other shows that tried this gambit must have found out; if viewers do not like the part of the series, they won’t go back to it.

No matter how much Emraan Hashmi tries to change his image, he is forced to return to those unlikeable macho characters. Still, on screen he dominates the show, and Mahima Makwana is no match for him. The other characters, at least so far, are just pawns in the Raghu-Mahika chessboard.These days, it is not politically correct to have women lose, so the show will have to add more masala to make the second part intriguing. The first is a bit of a washout.

Showtime

Created by Sumit Roy

Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Mouni Roy, Mahima Makwana, Rajeev Khandelwal, Shriya Saran and others

On Disney+Hotstar

Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best-known entertainment journalists. A National Award-winning fim critic and author of several books on film and theatre. She tweets at @deepagahlot

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