Shaukeens …Not for a film shaukeen

Shaukeens is inspired from the 1982 film, Basu Chatterjee’s successful film Shaukeen, starring Ashok Kumar, Utpal Dutt and A K Hangal. They are replaced here by Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor and Piyush Mishra. The original had Mithun Chakraborty and Rati Agnihotri as romantic attractions. Their replacements here are Akshay Kumar and Lisa Haydon. Shaukeen was remade in Telugu as Prema Pichollu with Chiranjeevi and others in 1983.

Producers: Murad Khetani, Ashwin Varde.

Director: Abhishek Sharma.

Cast: Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor, Piyush Mishra, Lisa Haydon, Rati Agnihotri and in cameos Abhishek Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Suniel Shetty and, in a special appearance, Akshay Kumar.

The actual theme, though with a different ending and with the approach of a thriller rather than a comedy was The Fan Club, a 1974 novel by Irving Wallace, made into a film the same year. Here an actress is kidnapped by a few men. In Shaukeen and Shaukeens, three old men, referred to in India as thirkee/lecherous men, bored with their daily routine, embark on a holiday with the express purpose of finding some sex.

Kher, Kapoor and Mishra are deprived of sex for different reasons. Kher’s wife has turned full time religious and sex is taboo for her; Mishra’s wife is dead while Kapoor could not marry the woman he loved and, hence, has no sex life. Best they get is to ogle at young girls at morning exercise groups. This proves to be even more frustrating even as their attempts independent of each other fail.

Having had enough, Kapoor comes up with an idea. Since they are well known in Delhi where they are based, they decide to land up in Bangkok. But the very mention of Bangkok is opposed by the two men with families, Kher and Mishra, as whatever the reason, Bangkok in the family and friends circle would create talks. They decide on Mauritius where they learn Akshay Kumar is slated to shoot his next film.

They are lucky to get a house to themselves in Mauritius as the owner, Lisa Haydon, has decided to rent it out while she is away. The trio’s first night out at a club is a failure. But, to their surprise there is Lisa sleeping in the lawn; her programme got cancelled at the last minute.

Haydon is a bindass, carefree girl and a self-proclaimed designer who makes a pendant out of a frog’s eye and glares for Akshay from her nails! Her carefree attitude is taken by the three men as an open invitation. They put their efforts into scoring with Haydon, collectively as well as individually.

While these three are chasing Haydon, Akshay Kumar is in Mauritius for a film shoot. Haydon is a big fan of Akshay and she proposes that whoever of the three takes her to meet Akshay will get whatever he asks for from her. Kher manages first followed by Kapoor by which time has had enough of her.

Mishra’s attempt is the last straw. A drunk Akshay (he is a closet alcoholic) is on stage at an Indian community event, bursts out in anger.

Sadly, Shaukeens is a poorly adapted version of the original. Nothing about it looks natural: the way they behave or the way they try to court Haydon. The comedy is either absent or banal, making one laugh at the attempts to create comedy instead of the comedy itself. Direction is routine and lacking imagination. Music is poor. Not a very long film, but even at 135 minutes it offers much scope for further editing. Performance wise, while Kher and Mishra are routine, Kapoor is a little better. So much so that Akshay Kumar emerges the best of the male cast. Haydon is a wrong choice.

Shaukeens fails to entertain. Having opened to poor response, it faces tough time ahead.

Rang Rasiya ……Of colours and women shapes

Producer: Deepa Sahi, Anand Mahendroo.

Director: Ketan Mehta.

Cast: Randeep Hooda, Nandana Sen, Paresh Rawal.

Rang Rasiya is based on the life of the renowned Indian artist and painter of the 19th Century, Raja Ravi Varma, who went on to become a legend. Born in Kerala, Varma was a painter trained in the basics of art followed by water painting and then oil painting by three different masters. He was driven out of his native Kerala by the local ruler for adding the prefix Raja to his name. But he was backed by the ruler of Mysore, who was also his patron, and his paintings adorn the Mysore Palace till date.

The film version is an adaptation of a novel, Raja Ravi Varma, written by Ranjit Desai. It is a novel and not a life account of Varma and, hence, the film too has a commercial film-like approach. And, it turns out to be more about women and romances in Varma’s life and that is what is expected to attract the moviegoer. After, all painting and painters find their followers at art galleries not in cinema halls.

Lying in cans since 2008 for want of censor clearance, the film was screened at various film festivals. It has only now finally got an Indian release. Married with five children, Varma, played by Randeep Hooda, has a glad eye for pretty women and admired their bodies; he was an eternal lover. His sexual encounters with women would be dream sequences, otherwise, for a common man. A flirt who uses women for his artistic inspiration as well as for what they are. Finally comes a woman, Nandana Sen, who he soon becomes passionate about.

Not taking Varma seriously, she eventually becomes his model and lover. He has found a new inspiration only to be vehemently opposed by the self-styled custodians of culture and traditions. From being dragged to court to being blamed for the plague epidemic in Mumbai, he faces it all.

Varma takes his art and admiration for the female further as he gives faces and form to Hindu gods and goddesses and paints their pictures, and sets up his own lithographic printing press to print and distribute these pictures free of cost to lakhs of people including those not allowed into temples. He provides a God/Goddess to every home. His one admirable act was to financially help the father of Indian cinema, Dada Saheb Phalke with his first film project.

Ketan Mehta is a fine and sensitive director but here his priorities seem mixed up between depicting the life of one of the most renowned artist and his sex life. Rather than romance, the film and characters seem to thrive on lust. Hooda looks too hard faced to depict Varma. Girls are just okay.

Biopics are not a very popular genre even about our recent heroes while this one is about one from a long past few can identify with, making the film a commercial liability.


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