In the glitzy world of Bollywood where dreams and dramas collide, Dharmatic Entertainment invites audiences for another round of insider revelations with its latest series, “Showtime,” now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. This fresh concoction of satire takes a starkly different route from their former mystery-thriller, “The Fame Game” (2022, Netflix), and plunges headfirst into the raucous realms of tabloid sensationalism. Replete with controversial ‘insider-outsider’ debates and punctuated by starry cameos that range from Janhvi Kapoor to Rajeev Masand, “Showtime” emerges as an unabashedly garish beacon within showbiz narratives.

Emraan Hashmi, embracing a role reminiscent of his earlier career, effortlessly plays the central character, Raghu Khanna, the angst-ridden head of Viktory Studios—a legacy left faltering by his ailing father, Victor, portrayed by the veteran Naseeruddin Shah. However, their most recent silver-screen venture, the overly ambitious ‘Imaan-e-Ishq’, meets a tragic fate at the box-office, igniting Raghu’s pursuit for redemption through yet another cinematic escapade, tentatively titled ‘Pyaar Dangerous’.

In his attempt to curry favor and secure glowing film reviews, Raghu propositions a bribe to critics, targeting the rookie journalist Mahika, played by Mahima Makwana. Despite her nascent career, Mahika is neither one to be swayed so easily nor to cower in the face of power. She rebuffs Raghu’s advances, and, in a dramatic move of integrity, exposes his underhanded tactics on national television.

Veering into the melodramatic, “Showtime” reveals a convoluted twist when Mahika is disclosed to be Victor’s granddaughter from a previous marriage. Upon Victor’s demise, which is depicted in an over-the-top production akin to somber TV commercials, with celebrities in monochrome mourning attire paying their scripted respects, Mahika surprisingly inherits control of the studio, ousting an irate Raghu. Fueled by betrayal and familial tensions, Raghu departs to forge his cinematic empire, setting the stage for an industry war that underlines the absurdity of its own premise.

‘Showtime’ thrives on its lampooning of the Hindi film industry’s excesses and insecurities, akin to a modern-day ‘Jubilee’ sans historical stage dress and propriety. Spectators are treated to Rajeev Khandelwal donning sequins, portraying a personage that is humorously self-referential—a meta-commentary on the actor himself. The series doesn’t shy away from the blitz and vanity of its own ecosystem, encapsulating the paradox of Bollywood—a world perpetually caught in a tussle over stardom and profit.

Producer Karan Johar’s attempts to toss self-awareness like a gauntlet back at the industry’s critics is evident in “Showtime”. He employs humor to soften and wear down the starkly pejorative connotations of terms like ‘nepotism’, effectively creating a fortress of jest around a term that has garnered opprobrium.

Hashmi’s performance is tinged with a palpable disdain for the frivolous surroundings his character navigates—a feeling the actor himself has come to be associated with off-screen as well. His counterpart, Makwana, however, seems to grapple with the enforcing dominance required of her role; it’s hoped that Mouni Roy, playing Yasmin—the long-suffering wife of Raghu and a former dance number superstar—will rise to a more central role as the series progresses, injecting a measure of dramatic heft.

As only half the series has been unveiled, with four episodes currently available, “Showtime” is proving to be a light and frothy concoction that nevertheless carries the promise of heavier thematic elements to come. It eschews depth for the now, veering towards a jocular take on Bollywood’s often-lauded and criticized contours. Whether this narrative will culminate in a biting commentary or maintain its flighty façade merits a revisit after the series crosses its midpoint.

The curtain has been raised, but will “Showtime” become the consequential satire it teases, or is it set to remain an ephemeral frolic through the quirks of Bollywood? Stay tuned to Disney+ Hotstar as we await the remaining episodes to unveil the destiny of Viktory Studios and the combative Khanna clan.

By IPL Agent

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