There were mixed reviews when the trailer for the Ranbir Kapoor starrer, “Shamshera,” was released. Some felt that the actor wouldn’t be able to pull off an action thriller, while some showed faith in Karan Malhotra, the director, and his team. So first, let’s analyze what the film brings to the plate, and then decipher whether it is able to create a convincing world, or, like many of its predecessors, it adds to the wearisome list of over-the-top entertainers that fail to bring anything authentic or exciting to the screen for the viewers.
‘Shamshera’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
The Khameran tribe was once considered to be a jewel in the crown of the Rajputana kingdom. They were honorable, self-respecting, and dignified people who just wanted to stay peacefully. Around 1871, the Mughals attacked the Rajputana empire, and the Khameran tribe fought valiantly for their honor. But the empire was ramshackled and plundered by the Mughals. The people of the Khameran tribe reached a place called Kaza in order to take refuge. But to their disappointment, people in their own country treated them with disdain. There was a caste barrier, because of which they had to face a lot of discrimination at the hands of the wealthy and the poor alike. Most of the Khamerans died, but some of them were able to survive and take refuge in a nearby forest area. There was a rage inside those who had survived. For no rhyme or reason, they were mistreated and oppressed. Their population was constantly dwindling, and that’s when a savior came to the forefront. His name was Shamshera, and he knew that in order to survive, they had to give the people of Kaza a taste of their own medicine. He launched a counterattack and started pillaging the kingdom of Kaza. The people were scared of the Khameran tribe now. They were under constant threat and knew that it was the consequence of their own actions in the past that they had to bear now.
The British had arrived in India during that time. The leaders, the kings, and the wealthy men of the Kaza empire, decided to ask for help from their English allies. The Britishers heard their plea but wanted something in return. The wealthy dwellers of Kaza gave them five thousand gold coins in order to kick the Khameran tribe out of the forest. The Britishers launched an onslaught and sent their army into the forest. They were met with a kind of resistance that they had not imagined. The Khamerans were fewer in number but never fell short of courage. They fought with valor, with Shamshera leading them. The Britishers knew that they couldn’t win this battle, and so they devised a cunning plan. They told Shamshera that he and his tribe could live peacefully and could regain their lost respect if they promised to stop plundering Kaza and move to a fortress just outside the city premises. This plan was communicated to them by a conniving Indian police officer named Shudh Singh. Shamshera knew that it could be a bait, but also knew that they could not wander like homeless nomads in the forest forever. He takes his people to the Kaza fortress, but realizes that it was a shrewd ploy by Shudh Singh to enslave them. They are physically and mentally tortured inside the fortress, and Shudh Singh makes sure that more than their physical bodies, he puts a dent in their spirits. The Khamerans stopped hoping that they would ever be free in their lives. Shamshera was told by the British Empire that if he was able to procure ten thousand gold coins, then his people would be set free. But he knew that achieving that herculean goal was not possible from inside the fortress. He had to find a way to escape the fortress and figure out a way to earn ten thousand gold coins.
Is Shamshera Able To Escape The Kaza Fortress?
Shamshera knew that there was a secret tunnel somewhere inside the fortress. That was the only route through which he could escape and then eventually pay the price for the freedom of his people. His trusted ally, Pir Baba (played by Ronit Roy), warned him of the consequences. There was a well inside the fortress, and Shamshera knew that the tunnel lay somewhere inside it. To reach the tunnel, he needed to reach the bottom of the well, which was only possible if he jumped from a great height. He decided to climb the wall of the fortress and then jump from there to get an advantage. When he was climbing, he was spotted by the police officers patrolling the area. They started shooting at Shamshera, who got injured and finally fell from the wall. Shudh Singh wanted to make an example of him. Shamshera had told his wife that if he got caught, she should call him a traitor and say that she was ignorant about his plan. His wife was expecting at that time, and he wanted to save her and his child from being massacred by Shudh Singh. People start pelting stones at Shamshera, whose lifeless body hangs from one hand. Shamshera dies at the hands of his own people, and so does their hope of getting freedom. He is not able to escape the fortress. People were unaware of the fact that he was not a coward but was trying to do everything for their own good.
The film takes us 25 years ahead in time, where we see that Balli, Shamshera’s son, is now a full-grown adult. He has a notorious reputation among the Khamerans and dreams of becoming a police officer one day. One day, he goes to Shudh Singh and asks him to take his test and make him a police officer. The barbaric officer told him to beat a culprit, who happened to be a small child, and prove his worth. Balli decided to take the child’s place and bear the punishment himself. That night, a bruised Balli was told about the sacrifice made by his father. He always considered his father a coward who had tried to desert his own people, but that day he was made privy to the reality. Balli has a newfound motive now. He decides to fight for his people and get them freedom.
‘Shamshera’ Ending Explained: Is Balli Able To Free The Khamerans? What Was Shudh Singh’s Secret Plan?
Balli climbs the wall of the fortress-like his father did, and jumps into the well. He finds the tunnel and somehow manages to escape the fortress. Pir Baba, his mentor, put a dead body inside the well, and the police officers thought that Balli had died. When Shamshera had decided to move to the fortress, a few Khamerans had decided to stay back. They were still alive and were living in a town named Nagina. They had camouflaged their identity and used to do petty jobs in the town. Once in a while, they met in a forest nearby and waited for the day their leader, Shamshera, would come and help them regain their lost respect and dignity. Balli met these people, as told by Pir Baba, and with the help of a local dancer, Sona, who was also his love interest, they started looting the rich people of Kaza. The new British General was worried about this new robber, whom the people were referring to as Shamshera. Balli had met the General in a wrestling competition, as he had heard a lot about him and wanted to check for himself who his opponent was. He had handed him a piece of parchment, on which it was written that he would come to steal the gold from a wedding. Shudh Singh meets the new general and informs him about his wedding. The General knew there and then that Balli, a.k.a. Shamshera would come to the wedding. Balli is able to steal the gold from Shudh Singh’s wedding, but his youngest gang member is shot by the sadistic police officer. Shudh Singh and his team, with the information given by a gang member of Balli, conducted a crackdown and confiscated all the gold that they had stolen till now. A pregnant Sona is also caught by Shudh Singh, who wants to kill her and her newborn, but the British General stops him from doing so.
A disheartened Balli escapes but keeps the fire burning inside his heart. The queen’s crown was supposed to come to Kaza, and Balli had planned to do the impossible: steal it amidst the tight security. He is able to achieve the impossible and put a blot on the reputation of the British General. He leaves a message, saying that he would return the crown only when the general promised to free the Khamerans. Balli returned with the surviving members of his crew to the Kaza Fortress, as the General had agreed to his demands. But Shudh Singh had something else in mind. He had planned to kill the British forces, put the blame for the same on Balli, and take the credit for returning the crown to the queen. Shudh Singh was successful in his endeavors, but he forgot to take one thing into consideration: the Khamerans inside the fortress. They came to know that their leader, Shamshera, wasn’t a coward. Pir Baba tells them what really happened and why his wife told the lies. A fire was ignited within their hearts, and they wanted to avenge the death of their leader and save his son, who had put his life at stake and was still fighting for them. The Khamerans break the door of the fortress and come out to fight alongside Balli. They slaughter the police force, and finally, Balli gets a hold of the corrupt and cruel Shudh Singh. Balli hangs Shudh Singh in the same manner in which he once hung his father. Balli leaves the crown to the British General, because of whom his wife, Sona, was still alive. The Khamerans ride alongside their new leader, Balli, and are hopeful that they will be able to live a dignified life henceforth.
Final Words: Why Does This Film Don’t Work?
The biggest weakness of the film lies in its lack of emotional depth. You never feel invested in the story or the characters. The screenplay, written by the director Karan Malhotra and Ekta Pathak Malhotra, lacks authenticity and effectiveness, and you always feel that you have seen a better version of the same thing before. I have always believed that art isn’t a territory in which a vice like “comparison” should exist, as every piece of art has its own merit and demerit. But it becomes impossible to avoid comparing the execution of the climax to Karan Malhotra’s 2012 directorial venture, “Agneepath.” Sanjay Dutt’s performance might be for the gallery, but it is bland and often devoid of any variation. You see the man putting in a great amount of effort, but still, it fails to intrigue or entertain you. Ranbir Kapoor puts up an earnest attempt and is convincing in bits and pieces when he is portraying the placid yet brutish demeanor of Shamshera. But as soon as he comes in the character of Balli, the script fails to back him up, especially in scenes meant to bring some comic relief. The conflicts are absurd, and most of the scenes fall flat.
Apart from the emotional quotient, the film also lacked the metaphorical approach taken by films like “RRR” and “Agneepath.” The events taking place on the screen do not hold any greater-than-life philosophy and have to be taken in their literal form. The dialogues written by Piyush Mishra try to pack a punch in an otherwise frivolous affair, but at times it becomes way too much and is unable to bring out the desired effect. The title track tries its best to evoke some passion in the audience, but in the absence of a nuanced screenplay and intriguing conflicts, “Shamshera,” sadly, falls short of the expectations by a huge margin.
“Shamshera” is a 2022 Indian Period Drama film directed by Karan Malhotra.