Brij Gopal Sharma (Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal) has been retired from the company at the age of 58. Now, Sharma struggles to adjust to his second inning but faces difficulties. Through the help of his friend, he gets into temporary assignments of cooking for kitty parties. As time moves on, his eldest son begins to feel more insecure than ever due to some life crisis.
Sharmaji Namkeen is a posthumous release of Rishi Kapoor’s final film who died back in 2019. He couldn’t complete half of the film due to his battle with cancer. Therefore, Paresh Rawal was offered the role to complete the remaining portions of Rishi’s role. It is widely regarded as the first instance in the Indian film industry or maybe anywhere to complete a film with two different actors playing the same role without sharing the screen.
Usually, the films get shelved or re-shot but Sharmaji Namkeen continued with the other actor to fill Rishi’s shoes. It was quite an innovative approach to complete a film with expectations from the audience to accept this two-in-one idea. And it worked pretty well. The film never looked to exaggerate this idea at all.
This two-in-one approach will give an idea to the audience about film editing and how the makers and the crew shoot and complete films by working on different scenes in an unarranged order. Many of the viewers are not aware of the fact that the shooting of the film begins not in the exact order as depicted in the film’s theatrical cut but whatever scene fits in the schedule with all the contributors available. So this film will give you a precise look at what scenes Rishi got to shoot first and what scenes did he miss for Paresh to complete.
Both the performances were equally excellent. For a much broader scope of filmmaking, I felt if this film can be reimagined with what if Rishi Kapoor had played those Paresh scenes and vice versa. I also reimagined if Sharma thinks of himself settling into twin personalities and living life. Not a bad idea at all.
I think the film made a promising start and raised a very critical old-age issue of an elder who loses his/her job or gets retired and tries to fit in a new life where he/she is more at home or meeting people in the social circle more often. At this age, it becomes a lot harder to adopt a hobby or try to enjoy life as Sharma’s sons suggest.
And I liked how Sharma’s character had so much of a real feel. He was keeping a mini booklet to check the dates and things to do. His clumsy behavior, discomforts, and social criticism were on the point. There is a forty-second scene calling Susheel that had nothing to do with the story but the scene depicted to the audience the difference in the mode of conversation and concerns in the old-age people as compared to the younger ones which are completely different.
There are a few moments in the film that demanded pressing but didn’t occur. I waited for the humiliation to cause its fury on father and sons when his dancing video is shown at home. Silence looked pretty unnatural. I was expecting his eldest son to shatter his father’s shambling embarrassment in front of the others. In the next scene, the father and son did have an argument and Rishi gave such a brilliant act of an embarrassed father making failed attempts to convince his son about his new line of work. But that conversation also didn’t get a solid sequence. When Sharma comes to know that he is leaving, the son abruptly leaves and the scene ends. I was expecting Rishi’s typical angry avatar to rise on his son who kept this news from his father.
With time, the film began to lose the thickness of the plot and apply lame jokes to slip the story’s intensity towards a weaker conclusion. And that happened in the last half-an-hour when Sharma’s son is in trouble and all the ladies shoulder Sharma breaking into the police station shouting and losing all their canyons of richship over his son’s atrocity. Despite the fact that the son was wrong in all sorts, the film shows him in defense, and a mayor steps into the station and clears the case just like that. The film ended so awkwardly.
In the past couple of days, I have observed that in recent Hindi films that I have watched, the story held promise but the screenwriting shattered the essence of the film. The scriptwriter must always know how to conclude a story.
It was so good to see Juhi Chawla paired with Chintuji one last time as they have appeared together a lot of times in the 1990s. Sharmaji Namkeen is a one-timer but also our last chance to see him perform once again.
(I would like to end my review with a brief note of thanks to Chintuji for his contribution to the cinema. Perhaps, he was the only leading male actor from the mid-1970s, besides Amitabh Bachchan, who was playing major roles frequently. He really began to perform when he was no more joking, flirting, and dancing with young girls as their lover boy. Thank Lord! Chintu’s that hero phase somehow met an end and we watched a lot of great character-driven performances from him).