Streaming on Amazon Prime 31st March 2022
Sharmaji Namkeen is a special movie primarily for two reasons. It is of course the last time that we will see Rishi Kapoor on screen, but it also the first time in the history of cinema that two actors have played the same role. Paresh Rawal had stepped in to complete the film after the death of the actor. It is very generous of Paresh Rawal to do it, the reason being the film would be remembered for Rishi Kapoor and not Paresh Rawal.
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Sharmaji Namkeen tells the story of a retired manager Brij Gopal Sharma (Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal). Brij Gopal is someone who cannot sit idle at home. The retired life is frustrating him. He contemplates taking up Zumba classes and becoming a property agent among other jobs. His son Rinku (Suhail Nayyar) tells him to enjoy his post-retirement life and not to do unnecessary things. Sharma ji’s biggest hobby is cooking.
He takes his passion for cooking to another level. He is tricked by his friend Chadda (Satish Kaushik) into cooking at a ladies kitty party, and soon it becomes a regular affair. In this process he meets Veena (Juhi Chawla). She becomes his friend and confidante. But things take a turn when Sharmaji’s sons come to know about his secret job. This is all about the plot in brief.
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Hitesh Bhatia’s story takes a little time to get into the groove. The initial portions are a bit hazy but he soon finds his groove. The experiment of two actors playing the same role is well managed by the director.
The story has certain similarities to Amitabh Bachchan’s Baghban. In that film too you have got a retired father but there is a sea difference between the treatment of both the films.
In this one, Sharmaji starts his second innings independently without any approval from his sons. There is a scene in the film where the character insists that he should not be dependent on his sons and look after himself.
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There are several comic punches that bring a smile to your face. The best ones of course are those featuring late Rishi Kapoor. There is a certain warmth that Rishi Kapoor brings to the role.
My favorite scenes in the film are those featuring Juhi Chawla and Rishi Kapoor. There is lot of charm in the scenes featuring the two. There is an undercurrent of romance between them; this is well explored by Hitesh Bhatia. You look forward to seeing their scenes. Juhi Chawla is a delight to watch as Veena.
The film also takes certain digs at the patriarchal ways of our society. The director openly talks about how a woman still needs to take permission from their male counterparts before following her passion.
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Coming to Paresh Rawal the actor does a pretty good job in maintaining the continuity, however there are times when you feel that he doesn’t fit the character as well as Rishi Kapoor. The warmth that Rishi Kapoor exudes is missing in Paresh Rawal.
Another factor is that both of them come from different schools of acting. Rishi Kapoor is someone who has always been a natural actor. There is a spontaneity that he brings to the table. Paresh Rawal on the other hand is a method actor. The role of Sharmaji fits Rishi Kapoor’s acting style more than Paresh Rawal’s.
Satish Kaushik as Chadda does a fairly fine job. The rest also contribute in making the film enjoyable.
In a nutshell, watch Sharmaji Namkeen to witness the magic of Rishi Kapoor one last time.
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