Sharmaji Namkeen movie review: Rishi Kapoor’s swan song is a slice of life with bittersweet flavours
Sharmaji Namkeen movie review: Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal seamlessly share the story of an endearing retiree.
It is for the first time in the history of Indian cinema that two actors — Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal — have played one character in a film. But what makes Sharmaji Namkeen even more special is that this is the last time we get to see late Rishi Kapoor onscreen. Thankfully, the film serves a perfect tribute to his tough yet jovial persona. Those who have known him or interacted with him would agree that Kapoor was a people's person but it really depended on his mood if he wanted to show you his cool side or shoo you away. In this film also, we get to see these two sides of his personality. He's overtly sweet is some scenes while in others, he doesn't care a hoot about what people say or think about him. (Also read: RRR movie review: Jr NTR and Ram Charan are dazzling, Bollywood has a lot to learn from this SS Rajamouli epic)
Directed by Hitesh Bhatia, Sharmaji Namkeen doesn't have any over-the-top dialogues or a lessons in morality that hits you hard. It's a sweet and innocent slice of life tale told in a simple manner. As Sharmaji's character switches between Kapoor and Rawal, it never appears abrupt. In fact, this constant and consistent transitions remain the highlight of the film.
Sharmaji Namkeen narrates the story of a retired manager of Madhuban Appliances, Brij Gopal Sharma (Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal) who needs to be on the go and just can't sit idle at home. While he contemplates taking up zumba classes, becoming a property agent, giving tuitions or opening a chaat papdi stall, his sons Rinku (Suhail Nayyar) and Vincy (Taaruk Raina) don't really buy into his ideas and tell him to enjoy his post-retirement life. As Sharmaji takes his hobby and passion for cooking to the next level, he is tricked by his friend Chaddha (Satish Kaushik) into cooking at a ladies' kitty party, and soon, it becomes a regular affair. In the process, his circle of friends sees quite a change. In Veena (Juhi Chawla), he finds a friend and a confidante. But what happens when Sharmaji's sons, neighbours and relatives get to know about his secret job?
From what we saw in Baghban where a retired father (Amitabh Bachchan) expects his four sons to take care of their parents, there's a sea difference between these two stories. In Sharmaji Namkeen, this retired man wants to start his second innings independently without any approval from his sons. There's a scene in which Chaddha shows the climax scene of Baghban to Sharmaji and insists that he should not be dependent on his sons and look after himself.
Bhatia doesn't want us to feel pity Sharmaji, instead he creates several lighter moments with comic punches which Kapoor and Rawal ace. The two veterans deliver a seamless performance staying true to this one common character they portray. While Kapoor added soul to Sharmaji's character with his emotions, actions and reactions, Rawal did an excellent job by maintaining the continuity of the character and picking its traits so effortlessly. Kapoor brings his flair on screen and Rawal has a way to impress you with his expressions.
The chemistry that Sharmaji shares with his sons needed a lot more depth and better writing. We are never told if they were emotionally attached to their father or not, what was the equation they had with their late mother and if that anyhow affected their bond with their father. However, both Nayyar and Raina did justice to their parts.
The scenes featuring Rishi Kapoor and Juhi Chawla are endearing and take you back to Bol Radha Bol days when the two were a hit onscreen pair. There's a sense of charm you witness when these two appear onscreen in one frame. While there are slight romantic undercurrents, I really wish makers had developed that track too.
Though the film doesn't preach at you about how you should or should not let your parents enjoy their post-retirement life, Sharmaji Namkeen takes a dig at the prevalent patriarchal ways of our society where a woman still needs to seek permission from their male counterparts before following her passion.
The film beautifully captures the dilemma retirees face but at no point does it evoke a feeling of pity. Some want to take it easy and spend time with family while others don't mind taking up more jobs to keep themselves occupied. Then there's a section who would find happiness in exploring life by means of getting addicted to Whatsapp, suddenly becoming active on Facebook, befriending strangers and calling them their own. We see shades of all this in Sharmaji Namkeen.
Watch it with your families for a good laugh, some emotional moments and witness the magic of Rishi Kapoor one last time.
Sharmaji Namkeen is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Direction: Hitesh Bhatia
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Juhi Chawla, Suhail Nayyar, Satish Kaushik, Isha Talwar