Sharmaji Namkeen: Deconstructing Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal and how they enhance an enjoyable movie

Rishi Kapoor got emotionally expelled, but Paresh Rawal had the best scenes Sharmaji Namkeen, the enjoyable new dramedy it could. Rawal intervened to help complete the rest of the film after Kapoor died in the middle of production. Everything is said and done, I would say that the two actors have a 50-50 share of screen time, as they pass the baton to each other in random order. But remarkably, their interpretations could not be more distinct.

Although not uncommon, it is extremely rare for a strategy like this to be used. And it’s rarer to work as well as here. The most famous (and similar) example I can think of is probably Terry Gilliam’s The Imagination of Doctor Parnassus, a film in which not one but three actors — Colin Farrell, Jude Law, Johnny Depp — completed for Heath Ledger. Doctor Paranassus was a fantasy film, so the change in the appearance of the protagonist was explained in the rewritten script. Furious 7, on the other hand, developed (unconvincing) digital tricks as it ran resolutely to the finish line after the death of Paul Walker. They used stand-in for Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon, who both died in a brutal reversal while working on their respective films, decades apart.

All three options — digital effects, intricate enhancements, and stand-ins—were considered after the tragic death of Rishi Kapoor. Bringing Rawal looks like the most cost-effective action plan, but against all odds, following this unconventional route ended up improving the film. It should not have worked, but it works.

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Sharmaji Namkeen – a movie that feels good for a retiree who cooks as a cook – begins and ends with Rawal’s character version. I say “version” because watching these two teachers at work is a pleasure, but at least at first it is disturbing. It’s weird that the movie with Rawal opens, especially since we just saw Ranbir Kapoor present it as a loving tribute to his dad. And it is strange to see Rawal and not Kapoor at the climax of the film, just moments before another tribute roll down the curtain on the late star’s career. This does not mean that Kapoor has fewer scenes – for example, the romantic plot with Juhi Chawla unfolds almost entirely with his character version – but his pieces are definitely more comical.

Perhaps the most notable exception to this is the undeniably disorienting birthday party sequence, in which Sharmaji’s company as a cook is revealed to his entire family, including his disapproving sons. The Kapoor version of the character watches Rawal’s Sharmaji videos on television as tensions escalate. Kapoor performs this scene like a kid holding hands while playing hooky. He stands silently, muttering explanations – the camera comes in for a close-up – as his eldest son scolds him for disrespecting their “family”.

Kapoor’s performance is otherwise … higher, in the absence of a better word. Do not misunderstand me. it’s not bad at all, it’s just wide. To the extent that the tone of the film changes each time Rawal retreats. Consider, for example, the scene in which Sharmaji and his sons visit Urmi and her parents in their elegant apartment. Sharmaji ignores the plight of his children. They are not necessarily ashamed of him, but are fully aware of his presence. And a lot of that is due to how Kapoor plays the stage. He is happy, exuberant — almost as if he was overcompensating for forgetting the meeting a few hours earlier. It works.

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But notice the change in mood when you return home. Not because of the inconvenience, but because now, it is Rawal’s turn to bring the stage home. His presence is much more serious. there is a quietness in him, even a strong underground current of melancholy. Rawal’s Sharmaji bears no resemblance to Kapoor’s half-full glass. He is the untouchable. He is the survivor. He is the sad widow. And on that walk back home, when Sarmatzi’s son, Rinco, clarifies to him about the shady real estate scam he has fallen into, Raoul calls him.

Director Hitesh Bhatia said in an interview that perhaps his only instruction for Rawal was not to try to imitate Kapoor’s interpretation. In addition to being an appropriately emotional swan song for one of Hindi cinema’s most resilient stars, Sharmaji Namkeen also provides an unexpected insight into the art of acting and how differently two performers can play the same character.

Notice the terrifying explosion sequence in the third act of the film, when Rawal blows his lid while working in the kitchen and eavesdrops on one of the women in his kitten group talking about her business idea of ​​being rejected by a potential (male) investor. Sharmaji comes out of the kitchen, screams at her to follow her dreams and sinks on the way home as Juhi Chawla’s character tries to lift his spirits. He has the best idea. Sharmaji goes to a rabri-faluda store and we drive from Rawal to Kapoor to the halwai shop. Watch the playground in his face as he sucks on the dessert. Only he could bring this energy.

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No digital trick. No fancy processing. Net performance. Combining the film in this way is mostly accidental, of course. But it makes you wonder if the gods of the movie worked hard.

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