Showtime Review | Even in Self-Criticism, Bollywood Lacks Nuances

On paper, Showtime, the new Hotstar series produced by Dharma Productions digital wing Dharmatic Entertainment, looks like an extremely bold move. Bollywood, which is going through a patchy phase in terms of content and many other controversial topics including nepotism, doing a self-critique, that too produced by Karan Johar felt like a sign of acknowledgement. But sadly, all these meta possibilities just don’t reflect in this series, which just reduces the characters into caricatures that function like the imagination of a gossip columnist.

Mahika Nandy is a sincere journalist, who at one point gave a zero-star rating to a movie produced by Raghu Khanna. Mr. Khanna was the son of Viktor Khanna, a legendary filmmaker turned producer who is not that active in the industry these days. Long story short, Mahika, who lost her job due to the review she published, finds herself in the directorial position of Viktor Khanna’s production house Victory Productions, in a really short time. How did that happen and how a young, sincere, and clueless Mahika tries to handle the enormous responsibility that came her way is what we witness in Showtime.

It is backed by Karan Johar, and they are in a way trying to make it that Luck By Chance kind of creation, that gives you an idea about how things work inside the industry. But unlike the Zoya Akhtar film, which had nuances and pauses, which made us an invisible onlooker, everything in Showtime looks deliberately loud. It is funny that I am criticizing the series made by industry people about the industry. There is this confession angle to the story of Showtime, where they acknowledge that Bollywood has forgotten its roots. Unfortunately, they have forgotten it so much that even in this confession, they lack honesty.

Created by Sumit Roy, Showtime is trying to address too many things in a really short amount of time. The transition of Mahika Nandy from being an inconsequential journalist to being the most powerful person in Bollywood is so abrupt that, as a critic, I felt infuriated that my only chance of finding relatability in a Karan Johar production got treated like that. The roles getting offered to different people, the lack of loyalty, and Mahika asking her partner to find a story from his own life, etc., felt pretty generic and somewhat like a safe assembling of scripting tropes.

The cluelessness of Mahika Nandy was portrayed effectively by Mahima Makwana. But there are these dramatic transitions at the end of almost every scene where she speaks her mind, and that area of the performance felt a bit odd. Emraan Hashmi is playing the head of the Bollywood mafia, Raghu Khanna, a spoiled brat new age producer, and in terms of the way he carries himself in the series as this arrogant, full of ego character, there was conviction in his performances. But the lines for his character and almost every character are so cheesy that you feel more like seeing the visualization of gossip columns rather than the mind games.

Rajeev Khandelwal plays the role of a delusional superstar, and the fake intellectualization humour was just not working. Mouni Roy, as the love interest of Raghu Khanna, perhaps has the most human character in the lot, but sadly there isn’t much space here. Naseeruddin Shah’s iconic image makes him an apt choice for the role of Viktor Khanna. Vijay Raaz, Shriya Saran, Vishal Vashishtha and Neeraj Madhav are the other names in the first part, which comprises four episodes.

From cameos of stars and directors to mentioning the names of the biggest superstars and their characters, Showtime had all the scope to be an effective self-critique. But the end product here has the sensibility of a daily soap. The 4 episode series ends with this announcement that the next part will be released in June this year. And frankly, releasing the second part of a mediocre show three months later is a stupid strategy at a time when people don’t even have the patience to sit through a 30-second reel. Showtime is basically a series that offers a chance for those #BoycottBollywood folks to laugh at it.

Final Thoughts

Showtime is basically a series that offers a chance for those #BoycottBollywood folks to laugh at it.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.