‘Showtime’ Web Series Review: A Tasteless & Formulaic Show On The Hindi Film Industry

Movies or television shows about how the world of cinema functions are always fascinating. How the directors, producers, and studios put in effort and money to come out with a film feels like a trip down the lane that breaks all illusions. The media also plays a crucial role in declaring a film a hit or flop, which includes social media enthusiasts who turn into self-taught movie critics. Behind the scenes, how and when a film is made is always a subject of scrutiny for everyone who is used to seeing and hearing gossip about this industry. Luck by Chance and Jubilee are the best examples from recent memory of films that expand on this subject, albeit in two different eras.

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The makers of the show, just like with many other Disney+ Hotstar originals, have released only the first half, spanning four episodes. The next set of episodes will only be released in June, which will be the conclusion of this tedious affair, which is far from engaging. It is infuriating how mediocre the stories from Disney+ Hotstar have become. Showtime is about the legacy film studio ‘Viktory’, which is currently in the hands of Raghu Khanna. 

Just like the nature of Showtime, Raghu Khanna’s movies are tasteless, and he resorts to bribes to make sure his films remain afloat so that they make a profit. In comes Victor Khanna, the age-old patriarch and founder of the studio, who has a hard time letting go of his baby and is always at loggerheads with his son Raghu over the kind of cinema that needs to be put out. The feud reaches its pinnacle when a young woman named Mahika Nandi enters the scene and threatens to steal the studio away. Apart from Mahika and Raghu, some actors needed to be kept in check, and we hope they do not quit the films Raghu has been working on. Will Raghu lose control of Viktory Studios eventually? Will his relationship with the actors change? What would be the next step taken by him to compete with the newbie, Mahika Nandi?

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Nothing is exciting about Showtime except the several cameos of actors and directors the viewers will get to see throughout the four episodes, which have a runtime of thirty to forty-five minutes. There is a lot of name droppings done, which was expected in a show produced by Karan Johar. Besides that, the show forgets to talk about the nitty-gritty of how a movie is conceptualized from scratch. The surface level discussion about how movies should be made and the exaggeration of topics like paid reviews, insider-outsider narratives, and nepotism are jarring. Which is sad, since this show had so much potential to discuss what goes into making a movie and the struggles of a producer to put together a team that has to deal with the egos of the directors and the actors while on set.

All these subjects are explored only at a surface level, and at times it comes across as childish, as the execution of these storylines is borderline infuriating. The writers and the directors hardly took this subject seriously, and it seemed they were in autopilot mode and went to present the laziest version of any show or movie people might have watched on the magic of Hindi cinema. The main plot of Showtime is a wafer-thin, overly dramatic dialogue that would give competition to Milan Luthria films. Karan Johar and his kind of cinema might be exaggerated, but he is also known for presenting a decent final product. The dialogues in Showtime seem more like couplets than a daily conversation between two levelheaded, egoistic people. Several subplots are introduced, but none of them are given a conclusive ending by the end of the first part of the show. The superstar Armaan’s arc is a half-baked one that does not explore his ego and issues in depth. His character is a caricature and does not develop into something better.

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Armaan and his wife were supposed to be a famous young Hindi film couple from yesteryear whose onscreen chemistry led to an offscreen relationship followed by marriage. There is hardly any chemistry between the two. These subplots could have been explored in depth to understand how human relationships are fragile. Another subplot involving the new family Raghu is informed about. These revelations happened too quickly, and there was no time given for the screenplay to breathe as the writers were always in a hurry to move forward.

Another subplot involves Mahika and her romantic relationship with Prithvi. There’s no indication of how they met or how long they have been together. A sudden domestic abuse angle and a jealous boyfriend matter are added abruptly. Prithvi’s role in the Viktory Studios is not well defined, which makes it hard for the viewers to connect with him and Mahika. The forceful nature of presenting Mahika as the female producer leading a production company is a farce, and it forgets to present the problems women have to face on a daily level just to prove their mettle. The writers negate the struggle women face in her position of power, which makes it hard for female viewers to relate to her in the span of four episodes.

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Raghu Khanna comes across as a man who is constantly arrogant and frustrated, and there is no redeeming arc given to him. Raghu is not a likable character right from the start, but it was essential to give him a quality that would make the audience sympathize with him as he was a neglected child of the legendary film producer who had to work his way up to retain the legacy of the film studio. These details would have helped us understand Raghu better and improved interest in the second half of the show, which is scheduled to be released in three months. 

Direction by Mihir Desai and Archit Kumar is subpar at best, as it does not stir up any tension between two warring people. It is ironic how the show talks about how mediocre films could get, and Showtime does not rise above average, which is heartbreaking. Showtime had the potential to become a series that could present a satirical take on the film industry if the makers had not invested so much time in cuss words, name-dropping, and exaggerated dialogues.

The actors were barely performing in Showtime, and Shriya Saran seemed to be basically sleepwalking throughout the screen time she was offered. I wish she was given more to perform. Her underwhelming arc as an actress who wants to make a comeback is not exciting to watch. It was sad that an actor of her caliber could have done a better job if not for an ineffective screenplay and bad direction. The tacky catfights between the two actresses, Mahika’s preachy dialogues, and the cliched bikini shots of women add to the runtime of the show. These aspects make the show mediocre.

Mouni Roy was excellent in Brahmastra but has been reduced to an eye candy who was sulking over a role she was promised but that was offered to someone else. Mouni could have been given a role that delved into the dilemmas she goes through as an actress and a partner and the kind choices she must make. Sadly, female characters are reduced to just stating they are strong and independent, but there was nothing done at the writing level to prove these qualities.

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The production design and costumes are an eye-sore, and they do not add any character to the show. Small to extended cameos do not add any value to Showtime. The makers wanted to take the Luck by Chance route by bringing in real actors, but it seemed forced. The performances of actors Emraan Hashmi and Rajeev Khandelwal were ineffective because the writing refused to get better, and they were beating around the bush for the entirety of four episodes. Naseeruddin Shah, the veteran actor as Victor Khanna, is the only saving grace in his brief role as the patriarch trying hard to salvage his studio. Talented actors like Vijay Raaz are hardly utilized, as he only walks in and out of the scenes, which is sad.

Overall, Showtime is a formulaic show on the world of the Hindi film industry and refuses to venture into subjects that have not been explored before. There is no out-of-the-box thinking here. 

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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Overall, Showtime is a formulaic show on the world of the Hindi film industry and refuses to venture into subjects that have not been explored before. There is no out-of-the-box thinking here. 'Showtime' Web Series Review: A Tasteless & Formulaic Show On The Hindi Film Industry