Planet Bollywood
The Shaukeens
Producer: Murad Khetani and Ashwin Varde
Director: Abhishek Sharma
Starring: Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor, Piyush Mishra, Lisa Haydon and Akshay Kumar
Music: Yo Yo Honey Singh, Arko Mukherjee, Hard Kaur and Vikram Nagi
Lyrics: Sahil Kaushal, Arko Mukherjee, Siddharth Banerjee, Shabbir Ahmed and Vikram Nagi
Film Released on: 07 November 2014
Reviewed by: Anish Mohanty  - Rating: 6.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.09 / 10 (rated by 412 viewers)
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Though Basu Chatterjee made issue based films like ‘Ek Ruka Hua Faisla’ and ‘Kamla Ki Maut’, he is best remembered for making feel-good films in the 70s and 80s. In the year 1982, he presented cinegoers with a light hearted comedy called ‘Shaukeen’. The film which had three lecherous men trying to woo a young girl was considered to be very bold for its time and was even granted an adult certificate by the Censor Board. After ‘Chashme Badoor’ and ‘Khubsoorat’, ‘Shaukeen’ is the third comedy from the 80s which have been remade and presented to the audience into a more modern, contemporary and stylised avatar.

‘The Shaukeens’ has been directed by Abhishek Sharma who earlier helmed the 2010 sleeper hit ‘Tere Bin Laden’. While ‘Tere Bin Laden’ was a satire with a realistic setting, ‘The Shaukeens’ looks like a more conventional outing with a different (and more popular) brand of humour to it. ‘Shaukeen’ had a romantic track but ‘The Shaukeens’ does not have any such track as the character played by Mithoon Chakraborty, in the original, has been done away with. However, the writers have introduced another character, that is of film star Akshay Kumar (Akshay Kumar playing himself).

Lali (Anupam Kher), KD (Annu Kapoor) and Pinky(Piyush Mishra) are past their prime but that has not stopped them from leaching after young girls. Unable to find some action in Delhi, they decide to go to Bangkok which is, as KD informs them, a country where it easy to have access to sex. Owing to the louche image their families have of the country, they stage a protest against the men going there. They finally settle for a trip to Mauritius. They land up in a house that belongs to Ahana (Lisa Haydon). They befriend the young lady and try to woo her by helping her meet Akshay whom she happens to be a huge fan of.

Though one may argue that it’s not fair to compare a film with its original source, the fact remains that comparisons are inevitable and more so when you have seen both the films. Basu Chatterjee’s films though commercial were realistic. Abhishek Sharma made his debut with a film that was fairly realistic in its approach. When it was announced that he would remake ‘Shaukeen’, one hoped that he would retain the realistic touch while bringing in his own quirkiness that one saw in ‘Tere Bin Laden’. However, with the arrival of the theatrical trailer, it was clear that he had taken a more commercial route this time.

The film takes time to pick up what with the first thirty minutes or so turning out to be extremely predictable and mundane. The only saving grace during this period are the witty dialogues that, occasionally, manage to bring a smile on the audience’s lips. The film gathers steam after Lisa’s entry and from there till the interval point, the film maintains a steady pace; no major surprises but some engaging moments nonetheless. The second half of the film, drastically different from that of the original, kind of makes up for the middling first half. The ways in which each of the men help Ahana reach out to Akshay is very funny. The best scenes, of course, are the ones featuring Akshay. Be it his interactions with the art film director, who he hopes will help him win a National award or him taking digs at himself- almost all the scenes that he appears in will make you roar with laughter. The climax, too, is well thought out.

It is difficult to handle a subject which deals with three lecherous man and their (mis)adventures. The viewer could easily hold such characters in disdain. Kudos to the writers for coming up with characters who come across as sex-starved and yet have a certain endearing quality about them. You laugh at their failed attempts to score points with women and do not really feel a sense of contempt towards them.

Abhishek Sharma surprises one and all by making a film that is set in a world far away from which his first film was set in. Though this film does not quite match up to the brilliance of his debut, there is no questioning his skills as a director. Writing a fresh screenplay while keeping in mind the original script of a film is not an easy job and to give the credit where it’s due, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sai Kabir (credited as co-writer) manage to spice up the proceedings in the second half but the kind of stuff that one gets to see on screen in the first half, stinks of lazy writing. Dialogues (Tigmanshu Dhulia) are very good. Music (Yo Yo Honey Singh, Arko Mukherjee, Vikram Nagi and Hard Kaur) is strictly average. What makes matter worse is that most of the songs are forced in the narrative and only act as speed breakers to the pace of the film. Sandeep Chowta’s background score is good. There is not much to complain on the technical front.

Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor and Piyush Mishra do absolute justice to the roles. They exercise good control over their performances and manage to come across as likeable characters even with the kind of traits their characters possess. In the original film, the female protagonist (played by Rita Agnihotri) came across as uni-dimensional and was, arguably, the most poorly written role in the film. Here, Lisa gets to play a multi hued character that leaves her with ample scope for performance. Lisa delivers a very convincing performance as the dim witted Ahana. Akshay Kumar, undoubtedly, is the best thing about the film. He plays a slightly more colourful and fictionalized version of himself and is completely unabashed when it comes to poking fun at himself. You long to see more of him. Rati Agnihotri, who played the female lead in the original, appears in a fun cameo. Cyrus Broacha and Kevin Dave bring some laughs.

Who would have thought that an actor appearing in an extended cameo would turn out to be the lifeline of the film? ‘The Shaukeens’ is let down by an average first half. It resurrects itself with the second half and turns out to be a decent entertainer.

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