Sharmaji Namkeen is a comedy drama film written and directed by Hitesh Bhatia featuring Late Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal & Juhi Chawla in pivotal roles. The film marks Rishi Kapoor’s posthumous appearance following his death on 30 April 2020. Paresh Rawal completed the role of Rishi Kapoor after his demise.
To be honest, Sharmaji Namkeen is not just about Sharmaji! It is a page from the life of most middle-class workaholic retired people. The only difference between most of these people and our Sharmaji is that Sharmaji found and followed his calling. I would also relate the characteristics to the real self that Rishi Kapoor would have been. In the sense that even at the age that he was, he did not sit back and relax, instead he took up acting assignments that came his way playing pivotal roles. So much so that ever since he started acting in films, there has been practically (except 1998) no year that he had no film release. With Sharmaji Namkeen, he has given his fans a great parting gift.
Sharmaji ki Kahaani
B G Sharma (Rishi Kapoor) is handed over a cheque and a gift hamper along with a forced voluntary retirement. A person who is proud and passionate about his work is now left to doing household chores, watching soap opera, etc. Sharmaji is father of two young sons – Rinku & Vincy played by Suhail Nayyar and Taaruk Raina. Rinku is professionally independent and settled and has plans of marrying his girlfriend soon, while Vincy is still studying and hopes to be a hip-hop dancer. Satish Kaushik, who plays Sharmaji’s close friend and confidante, one day, breaks the news that he has committed to someone that Sharmaji would cook for a ‘mata ki chowki’, which turns out to be a ladies kitty party. Sharmaji who has a flavour of cooking fulfils the commitment and soon becomes a loveable buddy of this women’s group. Life goes on until one fine day an unfortunate event lands Sharmaji and his son in police lock up.
As mentioned above, there is no ‘plot’. Sharmaji Namkeen is in fact a very relatable slice-of-life cinema that does not require unnecessary song & dance or action routines as ingredients. The way the scenes unfold, you are pulled into, as if you are seeing something in real, about someone you know.
Though there is subtle humour sprinkled in the narrative, one scene that stands out is between Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chawla and Suhail Nayyar communicating in pantomime or dumb charades at the police station, truly hilarious and unique!
The film has quite a few takeaways; you would specially feel for the protagonist Sharmaji when he tries to speak-up to his sons. His interaction with Juhi Chawla’s character has humour and sadness both at the same time. Or when he opens-up to his friend Satish Kaushik, you would feel about all those people on a sticky wicket.
The highlight is of course that there are two different actors playing the same character and the audience juxtaposes the two into one. Sharmaji played by Rishi Kapoor and Sharmaji played by Paresh Rawal gels perfectly well. Three cheers to the makers to keep Rishi Kapoor alive and take a novel route of adding an actor to continue the character. It’s an effort worth applauding for the actors and the director too. Kudos to Paresh Rawal to sink himself into the skin of Rishi Kapoor and stay true to the character.
Rishi Kapoor brightens up the screen with his sheer presence. Rishi Kapoor who is shown to be a foodie, has served us with a dessert and bid us goodbye on a sweet note, silently reminding us that we may also come across such a stage in life.
Equally versatile an actor as Rishi Kapoor, Rawal does not let his popular characters take over the original Sharmaji; a once-in-a-lifetime task, a responsibility well accomplished.
Juhi Chawla and Satish Kaushik
Both veterans make their presence felt with Juhi spreading a spark with her infectious smile and Satish Kaushik with his acting prowess and histrionics.
The rest of the cast is decent and perform as per the demand of the narrative and satisfaction of the director.
Sharmaji Namkeen produced with good production values is a well-made film with a herculean task finding someone to camouflage Rishi Kapoor with equally great acting and emoting skills. Sharmaji Namkeen is definitely at a must-watch and cherish the ever-smiling Rishi Kapoor in his final act.
Spoiler alert: Wait until the end credits roll for a surprise.
Movie: Sharmaji Namkeen
Director: Hitesh Bhatia
Cast: Late Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Juhi Chawla, Suhail Nayyar, Isha Talwar, Sheeba Chaddha, Ayesha Raza, Satish Kaushik, Parmeet Sethi, Taaruk Raina
Duration: 121.5 minutes
Streaming on: Prime Video