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Home > Entertainment News > Bollywood News > Article > Sharmaji Namkeen Movie Review Rishi the absolute cutie

Sharmaji Namkeen Movie Review: Rishi, the absolute cutie!

Updated on: 02 April,2022 07:18 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mayank Shekhar |

If you’re sufficiently drawn to a film, it simply doesn’t matter that both Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal (born early to mid ’50s) turn up as Sharma Ji, depending on the scene

Sharmaji Namkeen Movie Review:  Rishi, the absolute cutie!

A still from the film

Sharmaji Namkeen
On: AmazonPrime Video
Dir: Hitesh Bhatia
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Juhi Chawla
Rating: 3/5

Fundamentally, this film has no real conflict as such at its core — for it to sustain itself as a drama, let alone a comedy or thriller, or whatever genre that may follow from thereon. What’s it about, really? 

A retired old man, with a natural flair/talent for cooking. That he then hesitatingly employs to pick up cooking assignments for ladies’ ‘kitty’ parties. This apparently causes much embarrassment to his children, who are fully grown adults. 

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Which is hard to get. When you consider that some of the best chefs in the world, including Delhi, where this film is set, are male. It’s not a gender thing. And it’s not like the old man is doing a Chippendales show for bored, desi housewives. 

He’s cooking delicious stuff. It’s a lazeez affair. At the heart of this script, though, is also how an entirely ageist society banishes people pushing 60, as if that’s any reason for you to be less employable in most jobs. Especially given that employees reach the top of their game at that very vintage. Does it make sense to perceive them as entirely irrelevant, only from a day hence?

It’s also a legit point explored differently in the Hollywood film, The Intern (2015), starring Robert De Niro. Before his untimely demise, actor Rishi Kapoor was set to star in the Hindi remake of The Intern — we’re told, Amitabh Bachchan’s replaced him in the part now.

Who plays the old man in this film? Well two actors, vibing with the same part, during different scenes. When was the last time you saw that in a movie? Trivia memory fails me on this one, if there is such a film at all. What does it mean for what you’re watching on screen, though?

That one actor imagines his suicide during sleep. The actor who falls off the same bed, because of this nightmare, is another actor altogether. The character is the same — the one who enters the house to cook up a storm; but the fellow who steps out of the house is another gent. There is a moment when the lead character is watching himself in a video, but the person in that video, as himself, is another guy.

How do you, as a viewer, take all of this for a mind game? In the same way that, say, you could watch a film like Dogville (2003), where the filmmaker (Lars von Trier) simply writes/draws with chalk marks on the floor, locations and props such as house, tree, barn, etc. And you simply start imagining those locations automatically.

If you’re sufficiently drawn to a film, it simply doesn’t matter that both Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal (born early to mid ’50s) turn up as Sharma Ji, depending on the scene.

Further, it’s of little consequence that the story itself doesn’t hold much conflict. What’s essential is there’s enough slice of life in it, to go with the flow. What you begin to appreciate then are the characters, their quirks, beats, and most laudably the throwaway lines as asides in the dialogues, that you laugh with, pretty much all along.

Good movies are anyway convincing lies. This is a joyous pic. God knows we could do with some. Sharma Ji, having been forced to take voluntary retirement from an assistant manager’s job, used to work in a mixer-grinder company called Madhuban. In real terms, I thought maybe the desi company must’ve been something like Sumeet (“mixies”) from the ’80s/’90s (“Sumeet — every woman’s best friend!”). 

What happens to traditional managers, even owners, when such companies start to shrink, I’m guessing, with global competition? You could go the route of the film Mantra (2017), which was about the second life of the fictional owner of Uncle Chipps (Rajat Kapoor).

Or you could step on Baghban (2003), about how your kids start treating you shabbily, now that you’re no more the benevolent provider. 

Better still, you could examine an entire generation of retirees, who hardly knew a world outside their work life — somehow trying to fit in and stay engaged still, and how hard that’s likely to be. Writer-director Hitesh Bhatia (strangely also credited separately for “story idea”) captures this universal premise gently, warmly.

And yet, while there is Paresh, and Rishi, shouldering the same film — omit Bollywood’s ultimate aristo-brat Rishi from the lead, and this won’t be half the film it’s turned out to be. As it is, there is a naturalness that older, fine actors bring to parts that, in its innocence, is matched only by equally unselfconscious child actors.

Rishi, in particular, looks more and more like the young boy the world saw him first as in Mera Naam Joker (1970). He passed away while this script was being filmed, leaving a void among audiences who were beginning to see him anew — taking chances; landing better roles than in his prime; following every word of the reviews he’d read religiously after his film’s release, and WhatsApp me snarky remarks for the ones he didn’t like.

This movie reminds you more of that tragic loss. His passion for his post-retirement work shows. In the movie’s end-credits you see him even directing himself! These outtakes are actually better than the movie — no knock on the film, of course. He would’ve just loved to read that line, that’s all! 

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