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Naseeruddin Shah Uplifts Kaun Banega Shikharwati

Kaun Banega  Shikharwati(Zee5, 10 Episodes)

Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Raghubir Yadav, Lara Dutta,Soha Ali Khan, Anya Singh, Kritika Kamra, Cyrus Sahukar

Directed: Ananya BannerjeeGauravv Chawla

Rating:***

Just the joy  of watching  two of India’s finest actors  having fun on screen is  reason enough to watch Kaun Banegi Shikharwati, an Indianized  fable about King Lear and daughters ,plus one.A  fourth  beti is added  to Lear’s trio of ungrateful daughters for added  weight.

Having got the  ratio of  dotage precociously  in  place, Naseeruddin Shah plays  his kinky king’s part with   guffaws  galore. Yes, he  is enjoying himself. Whether  the audience is  able to  share his party mood  depends on how  much of   the  trippy  slightly  juvenile  mood  of  fun and games  one  can take in the name  of a family entertainment.

The  eye-light(not  to be confused with  highlights)  are the  four  goodlooking leading ladies, all  vying for attention  by assuming  various stages  of desperate remedies   to get Daddy’s attention.Daddy Naseer likes playing games with his drop-dead gorgeous  daughters. Sometimes  it is shooting lessons, at other times horsing around.  Till the end  I was not sure  if the quartet of daughters enjoyed the games as much their Daddy did.

Lara Dutta(trying to bring some gravitas into  the gallery  of absurdist giggles),  Soha Ali Khan(looking more lost than ever),  Anya Singh(she is more talented that  the industry is willing to accede) and Kritka Kamra(she really needs to get  over her ‘Poo’ hangover) playing four  scheming/uncaring daughters(not sure which applies to which , so shall we say all four are  sometimes  scheming,sometime uncaring, depending on who’s looking/not looking)  do not  appear too sisterly in their mutual kinship. And that’s fine.

They play estranged  siblings, who couldn’t care less  about one another. The eldest played by Lara  Dutt has a husband(Cyrus Sahukar)who wants all of her Daddy’s wealth to  pay off his debts. Then  there is an income-tax officer masquerading as  a house guest.And poor Anuraag Singh, once a talented Subhash Ghai  discovery,now running around in  a serial as  some kind of subject to the royal family, trying to make  his presence felt.

Maharaja Naseeruddin Shah never seems to have  any respect for his daughters. No wonder they seem to  dislike him. Shah is  a hoot  as the wacky royal highness, and Yadav a scream as his  friend/sidekick.Among the leading ladies  only Lara Dutta tries to make some sense  of her role and her place in this  zany serial where two little children , a solemn  girl and a wordless boy,  steal the show merely by  keeping calm. They help to reduce  the  load of  hysteria that this dysfunctional royal family lugs around like jewels in a crooked  crown.

Kaun Banegi Shikharwati has its elements  of surprise and fun. Its oddball trippy goofy crazy and  spaced-out  mood   is not to be taken seriously.And that’s its biggest USP.It isn’t trying to sell us  any  serious message.It just wants us  to join in the revelry, like  a neighbour who insists you  join his merrymakers at  a New Year’s party when you are already  in  your pyjamas.

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