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).
I have done blogging my own version of Filmfare for seven straight years. Since the late 1990s, I have observed and got annoyed on many occasions when I witnessed the prestigious awards show of Filmfare losing its credibility. Therefore, I have been managing to scrutinize and make my own list of honors who, I believe, deserved the most and need to be recognized.
Since 2014, I have been passing my annual report of Bollywood’s best every year. My Bollywood’s best had 21 categories that are segregated into three different sections which are musical (5), technical (10), and major (6) sections. This time, I have added one more category in technical that is ‘Best Makeup & Hairstyling’. I felt that is the need of the hour as things have changed and improved in the Hindi-film industry.
And yes, the industry is changing, in a sense that the new generation of writers and directors, a collective group of veteran actors and new artists, are trying to do new and attract the audience in the industry. Just, for example, Kajol picked a pretty different film last year, Tribhanga. Akshay Kumar, out of the equation, played a supporting role in Atrangi Re which is quite not his thing. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, with all the highly talented ensemble cast, got the critical acclaim it deserved. A few years ago, this wasn’t possible due to a large inclination towards mainstream cinema. But now we observe flexibility and the audience is willing to try innovative.
MY BOLLYWOOD’S BEST OF THE PAST YEARS
Those who want to read my previous annual reports of Bollywood’s best, click on any of the following links:
For music, I keep my options open and there is no limit to the number of films because quality work in music can happen in any film. But besides music, I chose the following Hindi films released last year under my scrutiny to judge for all the categories:
So how do I work myself as a film critic honoring in the blogs every year?
I judge and pass my reviews of the selected films.
After watching each and every selected film, I make notes about the plusses and minuses, and further note down in what categories these films qualify.
From this year, each of the 22 categories will have a maximum of 5 nominations and for the first time in eight years, I will now rank my nominations. No more ‘Other Notable Works’ or ‘Special Mention’. If I feel I need to write a few lines in any category, I will.
After I am done with honors, I will write down the total number of nominations and wins submitted in my report as stat fun.
MY BOLLYWOOD’S BEST OF 2021
The wait is over…
Allow me to honor Bollywood’s artistic and technical excellence in 2021 according to Sami Naik.
There can be no better scene than dramatizing this horrifying part of pre-independence history. This scene was kept on wait after two hours well spent on developing the story and Udham’s character in entirety. The intensity and provocation of that bloodshed were extremely detailed. This scene was deliberately shot violent. The graphic detailing of this three-minute scene full of gunshots and painful cries was more savage than what Lord Attenborough showed in Gandhi. It was a scene that boiled the emotions and broke the hearts. Udham’s commentary about his fury for this incident all this time made his case.
2nd. Sardar Revisiting her Lahore House (Sardar Ka Grandson)
3rd. Sandy Loses Her Child (Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar)
4th. Arjun Thakur Recovering from Vomitting (Dhamaka)
5th. The revelation of Maanvi (Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui)
Vicky as Sardar will be remembered as one of the best performances in Hindi cinema for this new decade. You feel pain when his portrayal agonizes. There is much discomfort to watch his rage and hatred for British Imperialism and he has perfected that genuity you want to watch in the films about Indian freedom against the British. His tense courtroom scene of justification and in a lengthy struggle of saving many lives after the massacre are the best examples of Vicky’s notable performance.
Parineeti has to be the most improved actress of the last year who gave not one but two brilliant performances. But this role, she had the grip. When a role for a woman in desperate help or seeking freedom from her misery requires a solid actress to perfect it, talented actresses like Aliya Bhatt, Taapsee, and Bhumi are coming to your mind. So Dibakar chose Parineeti and gave her the platform. You observe her when she loses her child, when she gets scared on a lot of occasions, or when she tries to escape the rape attempt. A marvelous display of mental and emotional acting.
Sardar Udham is one of the best directed Hindi films I have watched in recent years. Shoojit’s presentation makes me wonder if Sardar Udham actually is an Indian film. It is some accomplishment. The courtroom scenes, Sardar speaking about freedom alone in the park, Sardar’s quest for O’ Dwyer, and most significantly, the horrifying Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and its extremely lengthy aftermath are the bullet reasons why I feel that Shoojit has set the standards and raised the bar of directional artistry too high.
2nd. Manjari Makijany (Skater Girl)
3rd. Seema Pahwa (Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi)
4th. Bugs Bhargava (Nail Polish)
5th. Gitanjali Rao (Bombay Rose)
Believe me! Honoring the best film of the year is the most challenging judgment. And being a film critic, it is my responsibility to make a decision that supports the purpose of being the best. Milestone focused on the struggle of a broken man in the wake of tragedy; while Nail Polish highlighted a complicated criminal case. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi was a family drama but with a real-feel dramatization. Sardar Udham shows the darker side of the freedom fighter. All these films had elements that have been watched before but were extraordinary films.
Skater Girl is a totally different rhythm and beat that sparks attraction to its audience with a fresh direction, and a catchy screenplay. A story about a village girl who finds her heart in skating after two foreigners introduce skateboarding is a genuine love story to filmmaking.
The writers spent one year getting the feel of the village and creating the characters that stamp some quality portrayals. And this is exactly why Skater Girl looks so real and close to life.
2nd. Sardar Udham
3rd. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi
4th. Nail Polish
TABLE OF MULTIPLE WINS & NOMINATIONS
MULTIPLE WINS & NOMINATIONS
Silence… Can You Hear It?
Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
The Girl on the Train
Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui
Sardar Ka Grandson
Bhuj: The Pride of India
Thank you for reading my annual Bollywood honors report. I will return with a new report next year. Share your opinion below. Stay safe.
Toofan is a fictional sports drama of a local extortionist Aziz Ali (Farhan Akhtar) in Dongri who begins to take boxing seriously and face challenges while trying to make his name.
Okay, first of all, this is Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra‘s film who has the distinction to have directed some critically acclaimed Dilli-themed pictures like Rang De Basanti, Delhi-6, and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. So you expect him to deliver another masterpiece remembering how excellent those films were. Unfortunately, that is not the case this time. Something is wrong with Toofan. Not something, a lot of things.
The Rakeysh-Farhan magical combo from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag had too much at stake to surpass the hype of presenting another sports drama on the same line of sublime artistry. But perhaps Rakeysh overthought about the consequences and lost in execution.
One thing about Toofan being a sports drama is that in the first hour, you as a viewer ask yourself do you actually need to watch just another boxing story with stereotypical content. Why am I watching? The first half an hour makes you think how is it any different from any other boxing dramas you have watched. It is sooo sooo predictable.
And then the love angle, where you get the obviousness of the sub-plot connections for the next 30 minutes in rolling. The best friend of the leading character being the most best friend thing ever. The strictest coach rejecting the boxer in the beginning and getting impressed later enough to take him to the competition. The dialogues are less-inspiring.
The score is okayish and the tracks (besides ‘Ananya’ track) sound like some old unused tracks from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy‘s warehouse finally getting played. The reason I say this is because Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Excel Entertainment is what A.R.Rahman is to Madras Talkies, mostly giving top-class music and tracks throughout their career.
Even Rakeysh’s direction lost grip on many scenes where he could have made an impact. He badly missed using Farhan and Paresh‘s talents to use in the tragedy scenes when Farhan sees the body at the platform and Paresh throws the ashes in the sea. They could have done wonders there. And Supriya Pathak is terribly wasted in such a short character.
After an hour when the coach realizes who Toofan loves is exactly when the film gets interesting. Out of 160 screen minutes, it is the middle part that is the heart of the film that has nothing to do with boxing. A Muslim boxer marrying a Hindu doctor and breaking stereotypes is something I wanted to see in the film and has been depicted so well. The rising conflicts of an interfaith marriage is a subject less challenged in writing.
Farhan’s body transformation and those exercises are also the best portions of the film. In acting, Farhan didn’t come up to the Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara levels. It was Paresh Rawal who played an excellent supporting role.
For the sake of the middle portion of the plotting, Toofan deserved better writing, a potential screenplay to run on the sensitive blades of the content which the film terribly missed.
It is my firm believe that when the producers and the director decides to make a film based on an individual, your account your narration your presentation should be precise especially in a case when the individual has a disturbed life blended with the personal violence, shattered image, serious accusations, drug abuse and complicated relations with the family and friends.
The Indian cinema with many unforgettable celebrities offer scores of background stories which has the required material to translate their lives in the reels. Sanjay Dutt is one such story and when the project was announced, I was excited. But when the news broke that Rajkumar Hirani would be directing this, my court of judgments objected the announcement with a question mark bigger than the one in the headline of the cropped newspaper from the scene.
Because Raju Hirani is known to present the subjects and messages to the viewers with a screenplay which can adjust a well equipped rib-tickling comedy. Munnabhai duology, 3 Idiots and PK worked well with the humor because the stories of all the four films were fictional and flexible enough to bend with a typical Hirani humor.
But Baba’s story is dark, real, serious, traumatic, painful and disturbing. Will Raju Hirani make his first serious film or will his directional artistry of presenting sensitive subjects in a cleverly humorous way, this time on the real subject, will work again?
When the teaser and trailer were released, the presentations didn’t buy me at all. Because the seriousness of the content was glorified and looked entertaining instead of thought-provoking. So I said to myself, let me watch the film first and decide if the biopic justifies.
Now that I have watched on Netflix, I am much convinced to conclude that Sanju is easily one of the worst biographic films I have ever watched. This work is easily Raju’s worst. Raju making Sanju is like Taika Waititi making Thor: Ragnarok.
Sanju is bad, really bad, on many counts. One major reason is that when you watch the film and if you are a good observer, you realize that the motive of this film is to give a visual presentation of Sanjay Dutt by his close friend Raju Hirani concluding “Look guys! he was a bad boy, now he is a good boy, so please forgive him”. Baba doesn’t need to earn his name, people love him, people adore him. He has one of the biggest fan-following among the South Asians on a global stage. So stop being naive and focus on the most sensitive incidents of his life because this film is extremely sympathetic to the actor.
And that is where Sanju disappoints me. The screenplay dreadfully emphasizes on his drug usage and relation with his father than anything. You make a lengthy 160-minute film avoiding many important moments and touching a couple of topics is not a smart move. A director can do a lot of things in a screen time of 160 minutes.
Fine! Sanju has to be a miniseries to focus and touch all the vital portions of his disturbed timeline. Fine! everything cannot be presented in a very limited screen length. The director may have to divide the film into two like Gangs of Wasseypur, or consider sequel or trilogy, or overtake Tamas, LOC Kargil, and Mera Naam Joker to make the longest Hindi-language film ever to justify Baba’s life story. But I am not asking or expecting to somehow show a complete Sanjay Dutt story. At least mention or give the reference of the missing parts.
How disappointing is it to watch only the current wife, Manyata Dutt, but completely ignoring his other two wives? Especially the first one, Richa Sharma, who died of the brain tumor and was mentally disturbed by the rumors of her husband getting married to Madhuri Dixit. Speaking of the latter, Sanjay-Madhuri affair being once the most famous talk of the town got no space in the screenwriting of the film. With this effect, Baba’s eldest daughter Trishala is automatically out of the frame and shows only two young kids from the current wife, Manyata.
It is strange that Baba admits to the biographer to have slept with at least 300 women including the harlots but the director is scared of speaking a few close ones in his life. Neither his off-screen affair with Tina Munim comes to exist nor Madhuri in the film. But a character Ruby is perhaps intermingled to many of his relationships. Ruby is portrayed by Sonam Kapoor in a short role but gives an impressive performance.
Another strange application is Baba’s friendship with a Gujarati New Yorker (based on his real best friend, Paresh Ghelani) to an extent of his being a major supporting role bigger than his father’s in the film but ignoring the popular jigarship with Kumar Gaurav, the actor and friend who risked his acting career and fame requesting his actor-father Rajendra Kumar to give his friend Sanjay Dutt the role of his brother in Mahesh Bhatt‘s Naam. Result? Sanjay Dutt’s good time in acting career began from this film. This Kumar Gaurav is someone about whom Baba once admitted to shedding his blood for him if required. A friend who is even the husband of his sister Namrata has no mention at all.
And Jim Sarbh‘s Borat look-alike character. It was an important role but I wonder if the director forgets to bring him back in the frame after he speaks to the biographer to check Kamlesh. His role ends pretty prematurely.
Only Baba’s father, Sunil Dutt, is the center of attraction from the entire Dutt parivar. Paresh Rawal plays the senior Dutt’s role which is quite an odd choice. Neither the personality nor the voice of Sunil Dutt reminds you of Paresh Rawal. Paresh Rawal’s role wasn’t close to the senior Dutt but was similar to what he did in Paa. Aamir Khan was offered Sunil Dutt’s role which he refused because of Dangal’s shooting. Paresh and Aamir both were bad choices. In fact, it is hard to find someone like Sunil Dutt to play that role. Surendra Pal perhaps. Unfortunately, there are no heart-melting scenes of the onscreen father-son to take back, neither the seaport scene nor the magic-hug scene.
Baba’s sisters hardly spoke any dialogues in the film. The mother-son onscreen chemistry is shockingly overlooked. Manisha Koirala playing his famous actress-mother Nargis has to be the only satisfying selection in the entire casting. Not only Manisha does resemble but even acts like Nargis so well and alas, she is there for only a few minutes.
At least 1993 Bombay bombings made it into the script among the traumatic incidents of Dutt’s life but even here, Raju Hirani was not interested to go deeper in details and tell us about Sanjay Dutt’s connection with Abu Salem or any terrorist involved in the tragic incident.
BAD USE OF WOMANIZING HUMOR
It is quite bizarre to observe how womanizing is taken so light because it is a sympathetic script based on Baba to clean his image. If this film was based on a notorious criminal, the confession of completing a triple century on the bed would have dropped a nuclear weapon on the viewers. On the contrary, when Baba confesses, Manyata chuckles and the biographer is impressed and it looks way odd for entertainment. Not only this, Baba’s one-night stand with his best friend’s girlfriend hardly makes any sense. This incident is true as per Paresh Ghelani but the portrayal of a well-cultured Gujarati girl shy of wearing a nightie for her man at Baba’s house suddenly turning into Venus bold enough to shamelessly expose her skin to Baba and show a willingness to make out with him looked overdramatic. From Sita to Monroe in 40 seconds, a typical Bollywood u-turn for the viewers! And what is this five-minute sequence even doing in the film in the first place? Was this sequence relevant?
These 160 minutes could have been better utilized or reduced if Raju Hirani would not have pulled a Taika Waititi. Needless and forced humor damaged the screenplay. Not only Gujarati girl scene, many irrelevant scenes like a sleepy politician, over exaggerating Tripathi’s Bapu-Sanju comparison, hospital scene with the death of Ruby’s father, Ruby’s change of heart over her favorite animal, Sanju’s scenes with Bandu Dada also made it in the cut.
RANBIR KAPOOR AS SANJAY DUTT
Now about Ranbir Kapoor as Sanjay Dutt. See, the first matter of fact is to admit that if there is anyone who can play Baba’s role is Baba himself because finding an actor to play him is most likely unworkable. So the selection of Ranbir for the role is by far the closest a director can think of because Ranbir naturally carries two exceptional qualities of Baba. One is height and the other is the voice.
No offense but sometimes I feel if Ranbir is Baba’s son more than Chintu‘s. Ali Asgar has to be Chintu’s son. Anyway, the struggle over being Baba has to be tougher because on the screen we do see Ranbir giving his best Sanjay Dutt impression as much as he can. Height and voice naturally helped Ranbir. The rest was the bravura of the makeup and styling artist whoever he/she was.
Let’s not say if this is Ranbir’s best performance to date because I believe his performance in Rockstar and Barfi was far superior to this. Because it is all about the execution of the role. Ranbir’s presentation of pain and grief in Rockstar is more compliant than in Sanju. His role in Barfi was more challenging and handicapped.
Ranbir with the gifted height and voice had strong assistance of makeup, styling and costume designing helping further to assume him Baba. But after all the tools and despite carefully adopting Baba’s mannerism, Ranbir reminds Ranbir.
There is one really intense scene in the jail when the pot overflows. Baba loses patience and gets emotionally disturbed. He repeatedly knocks the door while the water touches his feet. This is the time when I wait to see how Ranbir as Baba loses his patience and go maniac. But then the scene ends and moves two months later?!?!
It is not that the film is completely nil. Being a biopic, it do has some accuracies like Baba ticking all the drugs while filling the form, trying to commit suicide, the judge clearing him from terrorism, hiding heroin in his shoes while traveling with his sisters, Nargis dying a few days before Rocky‘s premiere, Tabu giving Filmfare Award for Munnabhai MBBS etc. Makeup, styling and costume designing are also top notch.
But then so many technical mistakes like chronological inconsistencies over most of the vehicles used in different timelines. Look at the KFC chain behind Baba during his struggle to reach New York. That is the current branding philosophy of the chain applied. That scene is from the 80s and KFC branding philosophy was extremely different back then.
Unnecessary tracks stretch the length and the background score is extremely ordinary. Leaves me towards Raju’s direction which I believe is the weakest of all the films he has directed. The story and the screenplay don’t buy me at all.
The filmmakers have to decide if the Indian cinema is ready for biopics. And when I say biopics, that means an honest and accurate biopics. Another point which comes to my mind is that the director must believe that a biopic can win the audience even without being concerned to entertain and box-office results.
I must appreciate that Ranbir did his best being Baba. He is a very talented actor. I am sure if project Sanju would have gone to the right man, may have pulled the right strings.