Movie Review: The Shaukeens

November 7, 2014

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

In Abhishek Sharma’s version of Basu Chatterjee’s 1982 comedy “Shaukeen”, three old men looking for a weekend of fun with a young woman turn it into a sleaze-fest by leering at every female on the street and drooling over sexy female bodies.

(For people who don’t understand Hindi, a shaukeen is someone who likes the good things in life, but is not “cultured.” A Shaukeen enjoys a good time, but not necessarily with any abiding passion or refinement.)

Anupam KherPiyush Mishra and Annu Kapoor play three dirty old men who fly to the East African island paradise of Mauritius, hoping to spend a little less time fantasizing about sweet young things, and getting some action instead. They rent the bungalow of the very sweet young thing Ahaana (the 26-year-old Lisa Haydon), a ditzy, leggy lass obsessed with the number of likes on her Facebook statuses and actor Akshay Kumar, who plays himself in the film.

The three friends try to gain her favour by introducing her to Kumar, who is in the island to shoot his next film. When Ahaana exclaims to the old goats, “Who do I have to sleep with” to meet Kumar, you get a pretty good impression that this isn’t a rhetorical question to them.

Part of the joke here is poking fun at Indian men who think of little but poking women. To that end, Sharma makes suitable fun of the guys, dressing Kher (59), Mishra (51) and Kapoor (58) in spandex shorts and bathing trunks that reveal certain… contours that you wish would not be revealed. But that wasn’t enough for Sharma. He also offers his audience detailed insights into their desires, close-up shots of them ogling at nubile girls and more grunts and pants than you would hear in a wrestling match.

Mauritius meanwhile offers them plenty to gaze at. The number of bathing and sailboat beauties at play indicates that the geezers had landed on the Delta of Venus instead of the Indian Ocean. And that’s part of the problem. These guys are unstoppable when it comes to the thought of sex. That might be the joke, they might be figures of fun at a time when much of India is more aware of the divide between flirting and harassment than ever before, but there’s a point at which you get the impression that the film makers have made the audience complicit in the ogling, and not for the right reasons.

The story, by Tigmanshu Dhulia, is thin and unfunny, but Kumar saves it from the garbage heap by turning in a fine performance and making a number of knowing winks at his own career of playing shallow Bollywood beefcakes. Kumar drinks, chases national awards, and does endorsements even though he hates them. His “insights” into acting are priceless. The side-plot is full of inside jokes and pokes fun at Bollywood and its obsession with commercial success. If Sharma had made a satire about a commercially successful Bollywood actor and his obsession with winning a national award, I would have paid good money to watch it.

If only Kumar were the main plot. When the movie returns to the randy old scarecrows, it feels like an anti-climax and just one more hackneyed, derivative film in a Bollywood library that’s already brimming with them. That said, if eye candy is your thing and you want two Yo Yo Honey Singh songs in your soundtrack instead of just one, you could do worse than “The Shaukeens.”

(Editing by Robert MacMillan and David Lalmalsawma; Follow Shilpa on Twitter at @shilpajay,  Robert @bobbymacReports and David @davidlms25 | This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

 

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