Remaking a classic is a tough task and producers Murad Khetani and Ashwin Varde are sure that it will be a smooth ride when it comes to THE SHAUKEENS. When the original SHAUKEEN released in the 80s, it may have not have set the box office registers ringing but it surely made an impact that has lasted for over two decades now. Hence, THE SHAUKEENS comes with a bucket of expectations and let's see if the 2014 remake manages to fulfil it.
Keeping the essence of the 80s film intact, THE SHAUKEENS follows a similar plotline where three lonely men take the path of lust to add some fun to their monotonous life. Laali aka Lalchand (Anupam Kher), is a shoe-shop owner and a family man but his wife has taken the 'sanyashashram' and has sacrificed all sexual relations in order to attain salvation. On the other hand, we have the evergreen KD (Annu Kapoor) a bachelor brooding over his unrequited love. Then we get to meet the third 'shaukeen' Pinky (Piyush Mishra), a widower trying to find love once again amidst a huge family of two sons and his grandchild. The three, after many unsuccessful plans decide to fulfill their wishes abroad and take off to Mauritius for a fun filled trip. While they rent out a house of a young girl, they come across their 'land-lady' Aahana (Lisa). Young, free spirited and hot, the three try to woo the girl in their own way. Unaware of their lecherous stares, Aahana shares her life with them and when she undergoes a nasty break-up, she decides to end her life. But her plans go for a toss when she spots her hero Akshay Kumar performing at a mall in Mauritius. What starts later, are attempts by three oldies who try to impress Aahana by promising her to make her meet her idol Akshay Kumar - an alcoholic superstar.
Light-hearted, humorous and a complete rib tickling ride, THE SHAUKEENS manages to keep you entertained all throughout. The script, which is a tad different from its 80s counterpart, has enough punch lines to keep you gripped till the end. The first half where the script tries to reveal the life story of the three old men who are trying to find fun in their life is dealt delicately yet with the tinge of comedy,without making it sound vulgar or demeaning! The second half, however, has a lot more of those fun moments that will keep the smile constant on your face. The antiques, the quirks though resemble the original, they have been very aptly adapted to the contemporary times.
What adds to this fantastic comic caper is the performances of Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor and Piyush Mishra. They are equally crazy and creepy that will make you laugh and cringe at the same time. Annu Kapoor brings out the gorgeous lecherousness beautifully. He charms wonderfully and as a man he seems the best bet for actually wooing the attention of Aahana. Anupam Kher has been having a great year with one fine performance after another. This one's a more nuanced performance with a special care being taken of his self-conscious body language. Piyush Mishra internalises his frustrations masterfully. The manner in which his Dam of self-control bursts open towards the end is commendable.
A critic once famously drew similarities between Akshay Kumar's acting and the wooden furniture that doesn't do much. Kumar takes a dig at himself in 'The Shaukeens' when a National Award winning Bengali Director tells him, "The furniture in the frame can act better than you. "The hilarious interactions between Akshay and the Bengali director elicit unbridled laughter. If you'd want to watch 'The Shaukeens' the second time around then Akshay's tug of war between the 'competition' to get into the coveted 200 Crore Club and his 'dream' to win a National Award, will be a big reason. Akshay Kumar steals the show.
But what comes as a surprise package is Lisa Haydon. After her much acclaimed performance in QUEEN, there were doubts if she would be able to pull off a lead role but she does it with panache and how! Blonde, bizzare and a complete fan girl, Lisa Haydon plays the role of Aahana supremely well. She has a much longer screen space, looks deliciously vulnerable and her tremendous sex appeal is hugely tantalising. She stays true to her dim witted child-like character throughout the film. Cyrus Broacha is equally good in his special appearance. Other actors merely help in taking the movie forward.
After TERE BIN LADEN, Abhishek Sharma does what he is best at - making a completely hilarious entertainer. From retaining the stunt man aka KHILADI image of Akshay Kumar in the film to interconnecting the paths of Aahana and her three old men, Abhishek Sharma does a good job. Though the direction is perfect for the kind of entertainer THE SHAUKEENS is, there is nothing different or unique to mention.
Catchy music is another highlight of THE SHAUKEENS. 'Meherbaani' written and composed by Arko is a beautiful melody backed by wonderful picturisation. 'Alcoholic' and 'Manali Trance' by Yo Yo Honey Singh are chart busters that are going to rock the charts for a long time. Lisa's smouldering dance in 'Manali Trance' is breathtakingly captivating.
The let down factor of the film to some extent is its pacing. The editing could have been tighter. The simplistic manner in which the three oldies relegate themselves to their fate at the end is somewhat unconvincing.While you expect a drastic climax considering the way the contemporary films are made, it turns a little disappointing that the end has been treated very mildly.
On the whole, THE SHAUKEENS is a full on Bollywood entertainer that you wouldn't want to miss.