Showtime is latest Hotstar fare to leave you stranded midway!

Emraan Hashmi and Mahima Makwana in Showtime, the latest series to be cut short on Disney+Hotstar in a growing unpleasant trend. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

 A story that is showbiz-centric and is also about inheritance of a studio and is meant for OTT needs a certain amount of length and thus episodes. So I was surprised when the Dharmatic Entertainment (Karan Johar’s banner for the web) series was just 4 episodes long.

But I realized that Disney+Hotstar are at it again! They have concluded the season abruptly without a clue about when the story will continue. What’s more, it has concluded sans even a decent cliffhanger to whet anticipation.

With this platform in particular (ZEE5 also did it with their Taj series!) we are seeing too much of this gimmick (what else is it?) nowadays! Their latest series, Lootere, even has one episode coming out every Thursday. So why on earth are web series going the weekly soap way???? When will I get to see this entire series? How will I review it in its entirety if I have to remember everything eight, ten or more weeks down the line even as I am watching other shows and movies in-between??!!

Not only that, a major downer are the ads, anything from half a minute or more at junctures of every five minutes or so!

All this, believe me, kills a viewer’s interest even if the content is engrossing, as witnessed last year with The Night Manager and also in Aarya 3 and The Freelancer. The story here is quite interesting. An aged studio owner, Viktor Khanna (Naseeruddin Shah), who has had his flings in his time, has differences with his son, Raghu (Emraan Hashmi) over the kind of films he wants to make under his Viktory Studios banner. The company has seen its peak and the son now wants to make films that will resonate with today’s audiences and make money, art be damned.

Viktor, humiliated no end by his son, decides to end his life and leave the studios to his maternal granddaughter (Mahima Makwana), an entertainment journalist who counts aesthetics in cinema high and rubbishes Raghu’s latest film in her review though it is raking in big profits. Of course, she is unaware of her relationship with Viktor until his will is made public. An infuriated Raghu tries to brainwash Mahika as he is totally disinherited.

Matters get further complicated when the girl proves to be street-smart in business yet honest in her dealings and manages to bring together Armaan Singh (Rajeev Khandelwal), a huge star, and ‘arty’ director, Sathya Krishnan (Neeraj Madhav) and begins a film with them that Raghu had wanted to make with the star. She outwits Raghu at every step and soon becomes known as a promising new woman in the filmmaking field. Raghu is now also furious with Armaan and plays foul with him and the film’s prospects. The game of one-upmanship and shrewd maneuvers begin, until episode 4 cuts things short.

The technical values of the series are obviously upbeat as it is a Karan Johar product. And Sumit Roy, the creator and co-writer, is the astute and emotionally-savvy writer behind Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. Showtime as a subject also looks at various issues especially relevant to Karan’s real-life experiences, like nepotism, the chasm between art and commerce, the narrow ambit of art filmmakers, the financiers’ clouts, star tantrums and politics, women being used as ego-trips or sex objects, changing trends in entertainment especially in recent years, and more.

Mahima Makwana as Mahika is extremely effective, and she looks the part of a cute and ardent journalist suddenly thrown into a world of which she had only limited knowledge, being on the fringe. Emraan Hashmi plays the arrogant and brash film magnate to perfection. Rajeev Khandelwal as Armaan Singh gets the vanity and insecurity right, but is yet not convincing enough as a superstar. Shriya Saran as his wife and Mouni Roy as Raghu’s girlfriend have sketchy roles, but Mouni fares better. Denzil Smith as Viktor’s loyal employee and Vishal Vashistha also as Viktor’s employee and writer and now Mahika’s boyfriend are good. Neeraj Madhav as Sathya and Vandana Joshi as Meena, an actress, shine whenever they appear.

Watch the series for its content, and if you do not mind waiting for God-alone-knows-how-long for the yarn to continue—maybe to be cut short again! Those with a yen for film-based web sagas that end fruitfully can revisit Jubilee, of course!

Disney+Hotstar present Dharmatic Entertainment’s Showtime  Created by: Sumit Roy Executive Producers: Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta, Somen Mishra & Mihir Desai  Directed by: Mihir Desai & Archit Kumar  Written by: Sumit Roy, Lara Chandni & Mithun Gangopadhyay  Music: Anand Bhaskar Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi, Mahima Makwana, Rajeev Khandelwal, Mouni Roy, Shriya Saran, Vandana Joshi, Neeraj Madhav, Vishal Vashishta, Denzil Smith, Vijay Raaz, Gurpreet Saini, Payal Arora, Akshay Anand Kohli, Lovkesh Solanki, Shataf Figar, Lillete Dubey & others






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