The film is not just about bad science; it is in general choc-a-bloc with bad ideas.

iSmart Shankar review The smartest thing you can do is give the film a miss
Flix Tollywood Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 15:38
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iSmart Shankar, which pretty much uses up all its smartness and grey cells in its title itself, is A-rated. Exactly, why an adult - a full-grown adult with a mature brain - would want to watch this, I cannot fathom. Sample this: the most scientific thing heard in a movie, which is primarily about transference of memories from a dead person to one who is alive, is 'hippocampus'.

That's that. No discussions, no explanations.

Sandhya (Nidhhi Agerwal) is a neuroscientist, and her boyfriend Arun (Satyadev), a CBI officer, is so brilliant, he solves an entire political conspiracy, but plays Buzzfeed with his superior officer: "I am in the middle of an encounter. What I will tell you after the encounter, will blow your mind."

Sadly, his own mind gets blown up, I mean, well, he is shot dead.

Now Shankar (Ram), a gun-for-hire, ends up getting a chip at the back of his head that behaves very weirdly. It randomly turns him from Shankar to Arun and vice-versa, something, no one is able to control. It is illegal apparently to experiment with that procedure on humans, but it is done anyway in a super-speciality facility inside the CBI. Ahem. All this for what? The age-old political controversy that is so bad, it is funny.

Actually scratch that. It is not funny.

iSmart Shankar is the dumb man's sci-fi movie; you know, where there is no sci-fi, just one word called 'hippocampus' used a couple of times, because sci-fi needs research and we don't have the time and resources for neuroscientific research.

It is funny that Shankar - who is compared to a phone with two activated SIMs (because that is the smartest analogy the writers could come up with to talk about memory transference) - keeps seeing flashes of a skimpily clad Sandhya because she was Arun's girlfriend. You get the memory of a serious-looking guy who almost solves a political conspiracy and all you can see is his skimpily clad girlfriend for most parts, except when things are really heating up.

But, iSmart Shankar is not just about bad science; it is in general choc-a-bloc with bad ideas. The movie dedicates 15 minutes to Shankar's love story with Mumtaaz (Nabha Natesh), which involves Shankar harassing her and stalking her (the usual Puri Jagannadh routine love tale). Then Shankar barges into her house, threatens to 'rape' her, and between the time the woman calls the police and asks for help to the time they arrive at her house, she changes her mind and falls in love with him. I think the movie lost me after this most medieval of twists. It is kinda hard to believe in chips and memory transfers and that posh-sounding 'hippocampus' when the heroine falls for the guy who sexually harasses her. (No, Ayn Rand fans here, sorry. Oh wait, can't explain Ayn Rand and Fountainhead today.)

iSmart Shankar has more than a dozen fights - which through a random number generator probably switch from gun fights to fist fights to sword fights per se. Public places don't matter. Cameras don't matter. Discretion and secrecy don't matter. People are shooting each other in broad daylight - people who have a lot to lose. It is so funny watching the big guys talk, telling the unprofessional goons "Make sure my name is kept out of this!" You want to scream and say, "Dude, you might as well just record a video of yourself confessing everything and release it on Live TV, because you've done everything else to keep your name in it."

It is genius-level visualisation, you realise, when the movie manages to do the unthinkable: the guy is sitting in front of a dead girlfriend's photo and the next thing you know, there is an item song - the guy, the dead girl now undead, and another stereotypical 'item girl'. But the craziest part of this mindless orgy is that the context for this item song is 'Bonalu festival'.

Mani Sharma's music doesn't bother doing a lot for a story that doesn't care, doesn't want to care. From Ram's Hyderabadi slang, to fights and the expressions of love (trying hard to be raw and on-the-street, but sounding so wannabe and uncouth) - the movie is made for a select audience. The only hope is that the audiences put their hands up and say, "I am not that target audience, I do not want to be."

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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