Sharmaji Namkeen, the last film of legendary actor Rishi Kapoor is that sweet and predictable feel-good comedy that manages to be enjoyable due to the moments it managed to create. The story is never really trying to say anything unique. But the overall light-heartedness of the narrative and the performances makes it that stress-free comedy that doesn’t bore you.
Brij Gopal Sharma had to take VRS from his job at a juicer-making company. He has two sons, and his wife passed away a few years back. Sharma was living an everyday life enjoying his love for cooking. One day his friend asks him to make some food at a function in a house he knows. Initially hesitant, Sharma agreed to do the gig, becoming an instant hit. Sharma’s “specialist cook” life and its repercussions on his family life is what we see in Hitesh Bhatia’s Sharmaji Namkeen.
Co-written by Hitesh Bhatia and Supratik Sen, Sharmaji Namkeen doesn’t have any unique aspirations. A few minutes into the movie, when we get to know what will be the central conflict of the film, everything until the end somewhere becomes clear. There is a point where Sharma’s elder son Sandeep tells Sharma about his financial problems. And then, he ridicules his father by saying that Sharma can’t do anything to help him. At this point, we are pretty clear about what will happen in the next scene, and the whole police station dumb charades feels like a pointless stretching of a straightforward scene.
The uniqueness of this film is that Paresh Rawal is also playing the same character. Rishi Kapoor has played the character in his signature style, and his portrayal of Sharmaji was perhaps the sweetest. The good thing about Paresh Rawal’s performance was that he never tried to mimic Rishi Kapoor at any point. I was a bit apprehensive about how this non-linear actor replacement will work for the movie. But to my surprise, it never really disrupted the story’s rhythm. Suhail Nayyar as Sandeep aka Rinku was fine. As Sharmaji’s crush, Juhi Chawla kept the pitch of her character at a practical level. Sheeba Chaddha, Satish Kaushik, Isha Talwar, and a few more names are there in the supporting cast.
Hitesh Bhatia maintains that urban middle-class comedy textures the way scenes are treated. The congested house of Sharma, in some ways, represents the family dynamics. There is an interest for the script to focus on the second innings of retired people. The character played by Juhi Chawla is a woman who went through a rough patch and then bounced back. But these shades of the story somewhere got less focus because of the way the film was trying to be a “simple” comedy.
Sharmaji Namkeen is one of those films that has a preachy agenda. But the humor and emotion-driven narrative reduce that direct messaging feel. Rishi Kapoor’s final outing never becomes an unenjoyable experience because of the sporadic moments of laughter and emotional warmth.
Rishi Kapoor's final outing never becomes an unenjoyable experience because of the sporadic moments of laughter and emotional warmth.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended