Takeaways From Sharmaji Namkeen: Rishi Kapoor’s Last Movie

Before leaving for the heavenly abode, India’s legendary actor, Rishi Kapoor, had invested himself in Sharmaji Namkeen. Though he couldn’t complete the feature film, Rishi Kapoor always believed in the idea that the movie brought with it.

He has been the heartbeat of the Indian film industry for decades, and his life was nothing short of a roller coaster journey. Since Sharmaji Namkeen was Rishi Kapoor’s last film, I decided not to review it and instead put up a blog concerning the best takeaways from the movie.

Here are my six takeaways from Sharmaji Namkeen.

Life is an Ongoing Process

While he must have found peace in heaven, Rishi Kapoor left an important lesson in his final on-screen performance. Sometimes, the end we are given by the social norms is not the actual finishing line for us.

Kapoor’s character is forced to avail of the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) at 58, meaning he is free to rest at home. However, his nature is one that of being a hardworking individual who abhors sitting idle.

I could relate to the story because my dad also had to retire from his job due to VRS. He is a persistent man with an unbreakable determination, and at the age of 60, he is now pursuing Law, which, to some, is rare in the Indian realm.

Having watched Sharmaji Namkeen, I can understand how he must be feeling after giving up on his regular job. That people after retirement need to roam around and have a restful approach to life is a bogus propagation.

Sharmaji wants to open a restaurant because of his love for cooking, but his elder son is averse to the decision as he doesn’t want his dad to work as a roadside cook (halwaai). Alternatively, he wants his father to work in a respectable profession or enjoy traveling. To him, that would be more satisfying than opening a food outlet.

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How can we define satisfaction for someone else? I cannot decide for you, and vice versa cannot happen either. Someone may not want to rest while another person might. We need to be open to both situations and under extreme circumstances, there can be a third choice that we must respect.

Sharmaji Namkeen gives a heart-warming presentation of life as an ongoing process. It is not something that depends on age; instead, life might begin at a time when you think it’s all done and dusted.

A Father’s Side to Parenting

We have had countless films showcasing a mother’s love for her children. Sharmaji Namkeen explores a father’s side of parenting, demonstrating how he wakes up before his kids, prepares breakfast and lunch, and ensures they leave on time for office and college.

The movie doesn’t overdo affection. It focuses on keeping things subtle and nuanced. Sharmaji doesn’t want to go against his children’s wishes, but he also doesn’t want to give up on his passion. Somehow, he manages to find a middle path that keeps the story going.

The Intricacies of a Father-son Relationship in Everyday Life

As children, including me, most of us have only a slight attraction towards our father, especially the 90s kids. There can be varying reasons for that, including lack of attention, fear of getting bashed, and the imposition of limitations on personal liberty, among others.

We often miss the other perspective, or the other side, as many call it. Our point of view is rigid, not allowing us to interrogate the notions of features that are contrary to a perfect father-son relationship.

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Lack of attention is usually a result of work and workload, which we understand only after reaching the working age. Isn’t it strange that when a child is in their teens, their father is busy working, and when the latter becomes free post-retirement, the former is busy working? This cycle continues to deprive both sides of the feeling of mutual love.

On the other hand, the fear of getting bashed could result from an isolated incident. Just think, why do we fear something? We are afraid because either we have seen it harming us or someone close to us. 

In the past, your father may have had an argument with your mother, your sibling, or even you, which created a fear of him being a potential destroyer of your peace of mind. But such an argument is not the whole truth. Any reaction is based on circumstances, which do not remain the same always. An initiative and some understanding are all that you need to overcome the fear in your mind. 

Talking about the imposition of limitations on personal liberty, we must consider ‘why’ rather than ‘what’. If you have a beloved nephew who is too young to understand the reflections of society, ask yourself whether or not you would allow him to party alone at night with friends.

Throughout my life, I have hated my dad for imposing innumerable restrictions on what I should do, where I was allowed to go, the people I could be with, etc. But as a grown-up, thinking of the situation from another perspective, I can understand those decisions came from affection rather than authority.

Nevertheless, by the time we understand how things were and how we could have been a lot more sensitive to dad, we already have our own child who thinks of us the same way we thought of our father.

Though it’s tough, try to put yourself in your dad’s shoes, and things will become more evident.

Keep Persisting

Sharmaji Namkeen is as much about persistence and determination as parenting. Rishi Kapoor’s character doesn’t give in to societal pressure. Unlike many who choose to go the other way, he keeps plowing his dream.

The thing about fiction is it can never portray absolute reality, which is full of contradictions and stigmas. Following your dream is a task unsustainable for many people. Sharmaji’s character gives hope and instills confidence among those looking for glimpses of light in a path filled with darkness.

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Fight the Odds

It might sound similar to persistence since one cannot fight obstacles without a determined resilience. But there’s good reason to disagree with that notion. When we face a taxing situation and are overpowered by tension and exertions, there’s a feeling of discontentment.

We keep thinking about how that problem affects us and what can be its possible short and long-term impacts. However, what most of us, including me, forget is the solution. At the most, finding an answer to a question can be tough. It can never be impossible.

That’s where Sharmaji Namkeen comes into play by showing how trouble can be defied if you work out a solution instead of cribbing over its ramifications. At the end of the day, what will make you happy? An end to the hassle or the prolonged presence of the same?

Acknowledge Cooking as an Art

This point is particularly essential for Indian society. We are yet to accept cooking as an art form. Most households still consider the profession a taboo. While everyone enjoys eating, no one wants their family member to be a cook.

In India, you have to be amongst the top chefs, or you don’t matter. The struggle of people in the cooking industry is hardly appreciated by the masses. 

Sharmaji Namkeen reflects on the stigmas associated with the profession and gives hope to budding chefs of the country. 

Two Actors Can Play the Same Character

I don’t know when was the last time something like this happened or if it has ever happened at all. When Rishi Kapoor began shooting for Sharmaji Namkeen, he was pretty much sure of completing the film. However, the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a halt in the shooting.

Meanwhile, the legendary actor’s health deteriorated, and he was admitted to the hospital. Soon, the devastating news of his passing away left every Indian shocked to the core.

After his departure, completing the film was a far-fetched affair, but the beauty of cinema ensured we get to witness it. The makers requested Paresh Rawal to play Rishi Kapoor’s character and finish the remainder of the movie.

Initially, I was skeptical about two different actors representing the same character. But it didn’t look an inch odd on screen. Both, Rawal and Kapoor, complemented the personality of Sharmaji in a unique yet similar manner. 

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