Director: Hitesh Bhatia
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Juhi Chawla, Suhail Nayyar, Taaruk Raina
Over the course of his illustrious career, the late legend Rishi Kapoor has starred in a variety of films, including the Slice of Life genre. In his latest film, the late actor charted similar territory when he said yes to the family drama Hitesh Bhatia’s Sharmaji Namkin. Sharmaji is in the suburbs of Delhi (played by Rishi Kapoor and later Paresh Rawal) and lives in a typical middle-class house in Delhi with his two sons. While the eldest son works in a company, the youngest son is in college and is a hip-hop dancer.
Director Hitesh Bhatia wastes no time creating Sharmaji’s World, as he has aggressively pulled out of a company he has spent most of his life building. This two-year early retirement pinched Sharmaji out of the moment to end his busy life and spend afternoons with other retirees at the local park. From Zumba to watching saas-bahu shows, Sharmaji is bored to tears. His morning routine of preparing breakfast and lunch for her children makes him smile. In the first few minutes of the film, we notice that Piyush Puty and Harendra Singh's cinematography makes our mouths water with the delicious food that Sharmaji is cooking in his small kitchen. But other than that, it's a pretty nice day for seniors.
As Sharmaji continues to fear retirement, Satish Kaushik plays his neighborhood friend Chadda, who recommends various odd jobs to kill time. It is this recommendation that makes Sharmaji a period of preparation for what is called a satsang which is served to Juhi Chawla, Sheba Chadha and the rest of the gang. Bhatia's personalities are quite boisterous and honest. Whether it's Sharmaji's eldest son Rinku who is very conscious of his image in society, or Juhi Chawla as Mrs. Manchanda and the kitty gang, they all talk about what's on their mind.
After about 30 minutes of filming, he will surely know where the story is going, what conflicts may arise, and even how they will be resolved. This high predictability makes it difficult to further anticipate the film, but Bhatia manages to keep it interesting nonetheless. The film's highlights include its tumultuous dialogue and the actors' original delivery of this dialogue. Whether it's Sohail Nayyar as Rinko, Juhi Chawla, Satish Kaushik or Sheba Chadha, the cast of the film is doing well.
When Sharmaji aka Rishi Kapoor begins working as a "professional chef" at Kitty's parties and eventually becomes a member of Catwoman, she lives a secret life unknown to her children. However, it all falls apart in the second half of the film as Bhatia begins to build to the climax. As an audience, it's very easy to connect the dots and predict how Sharmaji Namkin will end. Only the comedic punches and hilarious moments save the movie.
Besides story and writing, Sharmaji Namkin's biggest challenge is two actors playing one character. However, Bhatia keeps the transition between Kapoor and Rawal as tight as possible. Yes, the communication may seem a little awkward at first, but the director makes sure to dedicate entire scenes to one actor and obviously doesn't change them in the middle. With the movie strictly promoted, the team also managed to train the audience's mind that you will see Kapoor and Rawal playing the same character. While Rishi Kapoor does the action scenes, Paresh Rawal does a good job of filling the actor's shoes. However, the charm of the late actor is missing.
Sharmaji Namkin has many stories that are attributed to various characters such as Sharmaji, his son Rinko, Juhi Chawla, and even the Kitty gang, but they all come and go. What surrounds it and makes it climax is Renko's possessions and her embarrassment over her father's culinary work. While Sharmaji saves his son from the clutches of the police due to his "his prayers", he conveniently made us forget about Sharma's love of cooking.
Hitesh Bhatia's Slice of Life will delight you with Rishi Kapoor's charm, comedy and food. The team also offers the sweetest tribute to the late legend in a touching post-climax scene. Overall though, Sharmaji Namkin is just a couple of laughs and his heart is in the right place.