Director: Abhishek Sharma
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Piyush Mishra, Anu Kapoor, Lisa Haydon
Rating: 3 stars
This is the story of three musketeers, lusty beyond sixty, who make a trip from Delhi to Mauritius in search of a ‘happy ending’ to spice up their lives. Lali, a shoe merchant, (Anupam Kher) is saddled with a pious wife (Rati Agnihotri), Piyush Mishra (Pinky), a spice baron is a widower left with no spice in personal life and KD (Anu Kapoor), the gang leader, is a bachelor constantly inciting the other two to look beyond their domestic lives.
The trio tries their luck on home grounds --- in the open gardens of Delhi housing societies. They join open air fitness clubs that has female instructors for pure nayan sukh prapti. In a slightly bolder move they book an escort service only to get stood up by them. Turns out the wrinkles are a bit much to take even for professionals. Bruised but not beaten, they finally decide to embark on a foreign trip to satisfy their carnal cravings. Thus begins the saga of sex and the pity.
A remake of the 80s classic Shaukeen, Abhishek Sharma’s offering can make you feel uneasy at times with its sheer honesty, but you laugh nonetheless. Uneasy, because how proper is it to laugh at three lecherous oldies looking out for the right time to get lucky with a girl who could be their daughter’s age? It’s gross objectification of women, right? This is where the wicked writing comes into play. Hats off to Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sai Kabir for writing a sex comedy without making a sleaze fest out of it. When was the last time that happened in Bollywood? Never. The writers treat the obnoxious characters with such careful affection, that it makes it hard to understand them and hard to hate them.
KD, Pinky and Lali rent a villa in Mauritius that belongs to a free-spirited fashion designer Ahana (Lisa Haydon). While the three men drool over their smothering land lady, Ahana, who is otherwise an air-head, skilfully plays them to fulfil her one desire in life --- to meet Akshay Kumar. The oldies, lured by the promise of greater delights, pull out all kinds of tricks to materialise this fan girl fantasy. These men think with their pants, yes, but their desperation mixed with utter confusion and awkwardness about the choices they make, makes them oddly likeable too. That wouldn’t have happened but for the veteran talents of Kher, Mishra and Kapoor, who grasp their characters exactly the right amount, nothing more and nothing less. This is sexagenarian bromance at its best, not the cool cigar-smoking, golf-playing type. This is more earthy and less pretentious. They may have the sharafat ka naqab for the world out there, but for their friends, they are what they are. Sex-starved idiots.
Lisa Haydon, after a spot-on turn in Queen, delivers another impressive performance as the air-headed designer whose wild spirit can only be tamed by Facebook. She lives and is ready to die for Facebook likes and of course “Akshay Kumaaarrr”.
And Akshay, who is also the narrator of the film, is bound to make converts out of his detractors with his rendition of himself in the film --- Akshay Kumar, an exasperated superstar, caught in the rut of 100-crore movies, desperate for a National Award and constantly complaining about how tired he is of jumping in and out of helicopters. His is a parallel track in the film that also gives a sneak peek into the lives of alcoholic superstars, publicity stunts, newcomer debuts and other such grey areas of filmdom. It’s refreshing to see that even though he plays a superstar in the film, not for a moment he becomes larger-than-life. The story manages to make him a mere mortal, which is of course the other side to any superstar. There’s also a delightful cameo by one of India’s funniest men, Cyrus Broacha. Cherry on the cake, alright.
With a catchy soundtrack, a steady supply of giggles, top-notch performances and an engaging script, Abhishek Sharma’s The Shaukeens is a worthy follow-up to his first film, the hilarious Tere Bin Laden. Watch it to get a taste of vintage Bollywood that’s not afraid to laugh at itself.