Director: Hitesh Bhatia
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Suhail Nayyar, Sheeba Chaddha, Ayesha Raza, Satish Kaushik, Parmeet Sethi, Taaruk Raina, and Isha Talwar
Bollywood Bubble rating: 4 stars
It is almost a bittersweet moment as you walk in to watch Sharmaji Namkeen, the last film of legendary actor Rishi Kapoor. A stark reminder of the sweet and savoury personality of the late actor, Sharmaji Namkeen gives us a drone-eye view of life post voluntarily retirement. Sharma Ji (played by Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal), a father to two, is forced to take up VRS leaving him in absolute boredom. He then finds an escapism in cooking and with a help of a colony friend finds a job as a ‘specialist cook’. Not understanding the assignment, Sharma Ji enters the first day of his job wearing a suit-buit.
Sharma Ji’s unidimensional life suddenly takes a 90 degree turn with him meeting a group of women who indulge in regular kitties to keep themselves entertained. Juhi Chawla plays an entrepreneur, who lost her cheating husband to an accident. Sharma Ji is naturally attracted to her as he dabbles with life crisis, rebellious and confused kids and new-age cooking.
Sharma Ji with his candour and affectionate demeanour is easily the most loved character of the film. With Rishi Kapoor’s untimely and sad demise, Paresh Rawal stepped in to complete the remaining portions of the film. However, the director Hitesh Bhatia decided to maintain a smooth transition between the scenes. With most indoor and cooking scenes shot by Rishi Kapoor himself, the jump between Sharma Ji (played by Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal) could have filled with hiccups but somehow the transition seems smoother than one would expect. Of course, one is not blind to the different nuances brought to Sharma Ji with two actors playing the same role, but it doesn’t hinder the watching experience.
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It is evident from the word ‘go’ that the role was written keeping Rishi Kapoor in mind. His natural flamboyance and love for cooking is very much noticeable. It is difficult to not crack up in scenes where he tries to hide his new job from children and the chaos that ensues. It is a treat to watch the two actors pull off the character with such conviction and grit. Paresh Rawal too brings in his element and is endearing to say the least.
Rishi Kapoor’s ability to slip between the emotional and satirical aspect of the charcuterie seamlessly is a gift. It is almost heartbreaking to know that we won’t be seeing more of him onscreen but we can always go back to rewatching his previous performances, which are legendary itself.
Juhi Chawla and Rishi Kapoor, who have worked previously in Bol Radha Bol among others, light up the screen with their comfortable camaraderie. There is an ease in their equation on screen which leaves you with mushy feeling.
The screenplay is simple and linear which makes it a non-complicated watch. The dialogues are relatable and funny. Characters are developed to keep them real. The background score blends well with the story and the overall world of SharmaJi Namkeen.
The innumerable focus on food definitely needs you feeling hungry as well, just FYI. With SharmaJi Namkeen, Hitesh Bhatia cooks up an appetising menu that satiates your hunger but not your want. Delightful and heartfelt. Watch it away.
SharmaJi Namkeen is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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