Sharmaji Namkeen, Amazon Prime Video’s latest offering, is worth seeing and thanks to delightful acting by the late Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal, despite being fairly repetitive and having a shallow plot that feels overdone for its 121 minutes. When Kapoor felt unwell, Rawal walked in to play the central character, Sharmaji. Actually, director-writer Hitesh Bhatiya used a creative way to defuse a crisis. When Kapoor was diagnosed with cancer, the movie was halfway completed.
Surprisingly, the two actors alternate portraying Sharmaji, and the transition is smooth thanks to clever editing. In fact, they don’t appear to glance because they seamlessly assemble together.
The film opens with Sharmaji, played by Kapoor, getting a voluntary retirement pay check and presents at a celebration, but he is not overjoyed. He is only 58 years old and is physically and mentally fit enough to have been thrown out of a company that was the market leader in household appliances. He spends his “retired life,” as a widower with grown-up two sons, cooking for them and performing domestic errands. He is a great foodie who likes experimenting with various recipes and takes dignity in his cooking capacities.
By chance, he meets a bunch of ladies and is persuaded to make food for their kitty parties. He is first hesitant, but his boyhood buddy Sikka (Satish Kaushik) persuades him to take it up as an enjoyable pastime. “After all, giving meals is a wonderful honour”, he said Sharmaji.
His sons, on the other hand, are unaware of their father’s newfound enjoyment, and he loves being a member of the women’s organisation, which is led by Juhi Chawla’s Veena Manchanda. They enjoy the way he teasingly teases their taste senses, and it’s all incredibly enticing. However, a stray video clip of him performing a dance with the group is enough to agitate Rinku (Suhail Nayyar), his oldest son.
Where Sharmaji Namkeen falls short is in its final act, which features some unneeded bungling in a police station, which seems out of place in the otherwise humorous story. A mismanaged ending to a movie that was undeniably delightful, with Kapoor and Rawal at their most fascinating — and flawlessly complementing each other.