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Sharmaji Namkeen A Befitting Though Unexpected Farewell To  Rishi Kapoor



Sharmaji Namkeen

Sharmaji Namkeen(Amazon Prime Video)

Starring Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawail , Juhi Chawla

Directed by  Hitesh Bhatia

Rating:*** ½

Whether it is the affable  culinary artiste  Sharmaji  or  Rishi Kapoor , the  much missed  affable  actor  who plays  Sharmaji,  life dealt them with  such unexpected blows. Rishi left us and this film incomplete . Sharmaji  too is  at a  loose end when suddenly after forced retirement  he finds himself looking at yawning  stretches  of emptiness, punctuated  by bouts of  exasperated  protest against this  custom of retirement.

Sharmaji Namkeen is  not the first film about retirement blues: Ravi Chopra’s Baghban remains a quasi-classic  of  the genre. Baghban is referred  to at the start  of Sharmaji Namkeen by Satish kaushik who is  routinely dependable as Sharmaji’s  best buddy.

This is no Amitabh Bachchan. But Hey, Rishi Kapoor bhi kissise kam nahin!The late much-missed actor brings  a crackling joie de vivre to the  role of an aging man who is not above embarrassing himself  and his two sons(Suhail Nayyar and Taaruk Raina). The   sons(well played) are constantly on tenterhooks on what  Papa-dearest  will do next to amuse himself.

Little do they know what Sharmaji has in store. The delightful droll comedy moves in uncertain ways ways when Sharmaji  secretly begins to  cook for   a bunch of gossipy ladies  at their kitty parties. The  kitty collection is splendidly spearheaded  by super-talented  actresses like Sheeba Chaddha and Ayesha Raza who are screechy  fun-seeking housewives devouring Sharmaji’s  dahi-bhalle and gol-gappas with a slurping  relish  .

Juhi Chawla who is also part  of the kitty-kitty-gang-gang is strangely   out of rhythm. She looks inconsistently fetching and  tired, depending on her mood  which  perhaps depends on which ‘Sharmaji’she  is shooting with.

This  brings us  to Paresh Rawal who fills the  blanks that Rishi left behind, with a huge amount of empathetic  earnestness. There is no attempt to mimic Rishi. The two actors share the same  character  with seamless accord.At times the effect is surreal: Paresh climbs   a water tank to jump: Rishi  Kapoor wakes  up from the nightmare…Rishi watching Paresh on  television….It’s the supreme occasion  for  suspension of disbelief  , and well, we are  up to it. Because the  narrative’s heart is in the  right  place. And well,  because we love Rishi Kapoor even  when he not fully  there with us.

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