Being Women

Rishi Kapoor’s Last Screen Presence Makes Up An Endearing Slice-of-Life Drama: Sharmaji Namkeen

There is no central theme and no actual problem to deal with. But Hitesh Bhatia’s and Supratik Sen’s precise writing, coupled with a highly engaging world-building technique, adds relatability to every part of the story.

Sharmaji Namkeen makes it hard to believe that this is the last time we are watching one of the finest actors of the Bollywood film fraternity on screen. Although I do not belong to the Rishi Kapoor era of the 70s (though I very well understand how appealing he was, since my mother and most of her contemporaries are still his die-hard fans), I have been in awe of his later years’ performances in Kapoor & Sons, Mulk, Agneepath and so on. The actor had passed away before the shooting was over, and hence, Brij Gopal Sharma of Sharmaji Namkeen is played by two actors, Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal. Now, this was an extremely challenging task to execute in cinema, and thank God that it worked perfectly well, so we have this endearing story as his last performance.

Coming to the film, Sharmaji Namkeen is the story of a 58-year-old retired man (forced to take retirement from Madhubani, a household appliance company where he has presumably worked his entire life) who is utterly bored with his life post-retirement and looks for new ways to keep him busy. He is a widower, living with his two sons who love him but have differences in views and opinions and are often confused about how to handle their father. Sharmaji, a great cook who loves cooking and feeding people, finally lands up as a home chef in kitty parties conducted by a group of South Delhi women. The story progresses as he makes friends, gets in conflict with his sons over his not so dignified job, and this slice-of-life drama unfolds much like our own lives.

There is no central theme and no actual problem to deal with. But Hitesh Bhatia’s and Supratik Sen’s precise writing, coupled with a highly engaging world-building technique, adds relatability to every part of the story. This is the story of the middle class and of a sweet and loving ‘working-class hero’ (as Chaddha, played by Satish Kaushik, calls Sharmaji in one scene), and we cannot help but fall in love with it. As charming as it is, Delhi is right at the center of the story.

The story is very realistically portrayed. And the subplots touch on very crucial points. It is as much a story about the women in the kitty parties as it is about Sharmaji. This is a group of women, brilliantly led by Sheeba Chaddha (she has all my heart), not just in their 40s and 50s but a few in their 30s too, who have found a very special and individual place of their own in this group. They share each other’s problems, stand by each other, indulge in gossip, and precisely, give a damn. Veena, played by Juhi Chawla, adds brightness to every frame she appears in.

Then, there is the father-son difference of ideas and opinions. Rinku Sharma, played by Suhail Nayyar, does an excellent job in portraying the effort in balancing his love life, the desire for a more polished life in a posh flat in Gurgaon that he has invested in with his desperation to make this single parent perceive things in a different way or maybe his way. And, each of them seems so very justified! Unlike films like Baghban, the younger generation (aj kal ke bacchhe) is not demonized.

There is no dramatization, no overly emotional statement, just pure heart, love, and longing. The direction is powerful and brilliantly managed. The humor is accurate, and the music, is out-of-the-box. My personal favourite is ‘Mera Laal Tamatar’ sung in the tune of ‘Laung Gauchwa’. The only bad, or rather sad, thing about the film is that we see Rishi Kapoor on screen, for the very last time.  

Disclaimer : The views and opinions are entirely author’s and The She Saga has nothing to do with it as we are just a publishing platform.

By Sumana Ganguly Chakraborty

Sumana Ganguly is a professional content writer, working for agencies and independent clients. A Master’s in English Literature, she has always been passionate about writing. Watching movies and analyzing them is one of her favorite hobbies apart from reading books and listening to music. You can contact her at

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