Sharmaji Namkeen (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – A light-hearted coming-of-age story of a lovable 58-year-old-man.

My Take – I believe every Hindi cinema lovers can concur to the fact that late Rishi Kapoor was indeed a cinematic legend. An actor who in fact, if anything had only gotten better with age.

The last decade especially saw him at his best, shifting roles from playing dark characters (Agneepath, Aurangzeb, D-Day, Kaanchi: The Unbreakable) to zany (Housefull 2, Student of the Year, Chashme Buddoor, Shuddh Desi Romance, Besharam) and grounded likable characters (Mulk, Bewakoofiyaan, All Is Well, Kapoor & Sons, 102 Not Out, Rajma Chawal) with the ease of a master craftsman, irrespective of the commercial results.

This Hitesh Bhatia directorial, which is now out on Amazon Prime Video, was aimed to cement his reputation of bringing great spark and spontaneity by being a humorous play on his real-life notoriety of being a foodie, while delivering a message.

Unfortunately, the film hit a roadblock when halfway through production, Kapoor passed away, due to his long gestating battle with leukemia. But instead of shelving the film or completely re-shooting it, in a rare attempt for Indian cinema, the makers (with the support of his son, Ranbir Kapoor) brought in Paresh Rawal to fill in the same role, and complete the remaining scenes.

And with director Bhatia and Editor Bodhaditya Banerjee ensuring that the film moves seamlessly from one actor to the other for 119 minutes, it results in becoming a befitting swan song for the late actor. With its low-key, slice-of-life drama set up that aims to pull at the heartstrings, the film is a decent enough watch that does justice to the memory of an actor who never failed to come alive in front of a camera.

Sure, it is definitely not the best of its genre, but heavily bolstered by exceptional performances from both Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal, the film manages to earn a smile throughout.

The story follows Brij Gopal Sharma aka Sharmaji (Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal), a 58-year-old Delhi widower, who is forced to voluntary retire from his job. Physically agile and mentally alert to have been pushed out of corporate life in a firm that was the brand leader in home appliances, Sharmaji now struggles to cope with his new situation.

Yearning for purpose and some company, in a bid to keep himself occupied, the single father of two sons, Sandeep (Suhail Nayyar) and Vincy (Taaruk Raina), finds himself following his long-standing culinary dreams.

With a bit of encouragement and some subterfuge from his lifelong friend, Chadda (Satish Kaushik), Sharmaji turns into a home chef and begins to rustle up lip-smacking delicacies on demand for a group of motley kitty-partying women, especially Veena (Juhi Chawla) to whom he takes a shine to.

However, his sons are in the dark about their father’s new found engagement, and Sharmaji is sure they won’t be happy to learn too, especially Sandeep who is determined to move out of their cramped West Delhi home ahead of his marriage to his girlfriend and office colleague, Urmi (Isha Talwar).

The plot is simple and most of the charm inherent in the film, flows from the Rishi Kapoor‘s sprightly presence, with Paresh Rawal doing all he can to keep the energy going. The film, written by Bhatia and Supratik Sen, is a slice-of-life tale about ageing parents and their changing relationship with their kids, and also explores the many nuances of the post retirement life, focusing on the crucial aspect of parents embracing the notion of self-love and autonomy while negotiating the so-called moralistic expectations that are continuously heaped on them by an ever-judgmental society.

The situational humor too is tinged with the poignancy of an elderly man attempting to reinvent himself on his own terms.

The best parts of the film, are the portions which focus on the shy Sharmaji shedding his reluctance and finding easy companionship with the ladies who kitty-party their dull afternoons away, playing naughty dumb charade games, or dancing. It helps that these women are written with warmth, and are shown having each other’s backs.

However, were the film falters is in its final act with unnecessary bungling at a police station which seemed quite out of tune with the otherwise lighthearted narrative. A clumsy end to what was positively a fun film.

Plus, one cannot help but feel that the film would have been a far more enjoyable affair had Kapoor managed to see it through, mainly as the breezy quality that he imparts to the film wanes just a tad when he isn’t on the screen.

Without a doubt, this one is totally Rishi Kapoor‘s film. Kapoor‘s strength lay in the way he, all through his career, thrived on injecting infectious zing into the most ordinary of scenes and set pieces, whether he was doing drama, delivering comedy or simply singing and dancing. Here, too he absolutely nails it.

Paresh Rawal does a commendable job of not only taking over from where Rishi Kapoor left, but also manages to be in the necessary sync. Juhi Chawla is a delight as always and Suhail Nayyar plays his character well and shares excellent equation with both Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal.

In other roles, Taaruk Raina provides good support and so do Satish Kaushik, Isha Talwar, Sheeba Chaddha, Ayesha Raza Mishra and Parmeet Sethi. On the whole, ‘Sharmaji Namkeen’ is a decently delightful slice-of-life comedy that serves Rishi Kapoor‘s signature charm one last time.

Directed –

Starring – Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Juhi Chawla

Rated – PG

Run Time – 119 minutes

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