Chris Nolan’s Interstellar makes a profound observation - we are not meant to save the world, we are meant to leave it. This axiom comes true the moment you walk out of watching The Shaukeens. It’s not just a film, it feels like one of the elements that would end mankind. One doesn’t need to watch the original 1982 Basu Chatterjee film to connect with or understand The Shaukeens. There is literally nothing in this film to make you like it, unless you really dig regressive cinema. It’s also very difficult to analyze or have an educated film discussion on the film, because: 1) The whole film is about three horny, misogynist, perverted old men trying to score chicks, and 2) A major plot point in the film involves close-ups of Piyush Mishra’s underwear crotch.
The ‘story’ chronicles Lali (Anupam Kher), Pinky (Mishra) and KD (Annu Kapoor) who are tired of desi maal and want to go to phoren to get jiggy with videsi maal. But oh wait, don’t for a second think these three are doing something immoral - their reasons for philandering are totally justified. Lali’s wife has newly taken to God and is no longer interested in sexytime, Pinky’s wife is long gone, and KD has never married in the first place, because a girl broke his heart when he was young. So when these three gents travel to Mauritius, stay at the house of the uber hot fashion designer Ahana (Lisa Haydon), and manipulate her into sleeping with them, it’s totally understandable.
They also take the creative liberty of hitting on random girls on the street in Delhi, and paying off cops when they’re caught harassing women. Such fine gents are really hard to find in this world, and director Abhishek Sharma along with writer Tigmanshu Dhulia deliver us dollops of clean family fun to make us adore them, for example: a) Annu Kapoor shouting ‘Do kaudi ki ladki, toofaani aadmi ko Buddha bolti ho’. b) Annu Kapoor promising the others that he will take them to a strip club, and the camera focusing on Piyush Mishra licking his lips. c) An incredibly overweight white woman performing a pole dance in the aforementioned club, to the tune of a Bhojpuri song. Followed by a barrage of crass fat jokes on aforementioned woman. d) The trio choosing a bed and breakfast to stay in, based on the hotness of the female owner. And their subsequent remark in the absence of the owner – ‘ladki nahi hai lekin ladki ki mehek to zaroor hogi’.
If that weren’t head spinning enough for you already, the biggest plot point in the film involves Ahana doing ‘anything’ for the old men in exchange for a meeting with her favorite hero Akshay Kumar. That’s right, Akki plays Akki in the film, and the trio of old gentlemen takes turns in setting up meetings with him to grab some Ahana nookie. Not to leave Akki out of the picture, even he gets to hurl some choice degradingly sexist stuff, and still gets away because he ‘wink-wink’ plays himself.
To add to the head banging insanity Ahana plays a girl who was born a day ago. When the three old farts are slobbering at her bare legs, leering at her cleavage, constantly letching, passing sexist remarks and playing carom board in their pockets at the very sight of her, she still thinks they’re lovely old gents who are only being nice to her. That Lisa Haydon agreed to play such an embarrassing and regressive character is disappointing, especially after a rather empowering (and also fun) role in Queen. Incidentally, Rati Agnihotri who played the Ahana character in the original plays the ultra celibate wife of Lali in the film. To paraphrase Rusty Cohle, time is indeed an incredibly flat circle.
(First published in Firstpost)