AK­SHAY SAVES THE DAY

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - HT DO - ANU­PAMA CHOPRA movies@hin­dus­tan­times.com

THE SHAU­KEENS Di­rec­tion: Ab­hishek Sharma

Ac­tors: Anu­pam Kher, Ak­shay Kumar

Rat­ing:

To­wards the end of The Shau­keens, Ak­shay Kumar, play­ing a spoilt, al­co­holic, su­per­star named Ak­shay Kumar, of­fers to make a fan the lead­ing lady in his next film. But I can’t act, she says.

He replies, “Jisko kuch nahin aata woh act­ing hi toh karta hai. Mu­jhe dekho.” Ak­shay spoof­ing him­self is the best part of The Shau­keens. De­spite the ob­vi­ous lack of tal­ent, the al­co­holic Ak­shay desperately wants to win a Na­tional Award. So he’s work­ing with a Ben­gali di­rec­tor who is try­ing to teach him method act­ing. At one point, the di­rec­tor calls Ak­shay a non-ac­tor and says, “Sirf khi­ladi pic­ture karna aata hai, fur­ni­ture bhi tumse be­htar act­ing karta

hai.” It’s gen­uinely funny and re­fresh­ing to see a huge Bol­ly­wood star tear­ing him­self apart with such aplomb. But this amus­ing Bol­ly­wood cri­tique — which in­cludes a de­light­ful cameo by Ak­shay’s real life main-law Dim­ple Ka­pa­dia — is em­bed­ded in a far less funny story. The Shau­keens is a loose re­work­ing of Basu Chat­ter­jee’s 1982 film about three sixty-plus men who are desperately seek­ing sex. I haven’t seen the orig­i­nal but to­day, it’s hard to find laughs in three lech­er­ous old men sit­ting in a park and star­ing at women. The sit­u­a­tion is so in­her­ently icky that even three first-rate ac­tors — Anu­pam Kher, Annu Kapoor and Piyush Mishra — can’t re­deem it. It doesn’t help that di­rec­tor Ab­hishek Sharma cheer­fully re­duces women to body parts or that a voice-over tells us that ‘ inki fithrath wahi hai — doggy

Sharma and co-writer Tigmanshu Dhulia aren’t able to lo­cate that ami­able, good-na­tured tone that is so nec­es­sary to make this nar­ra­tive palat­able. Even­tu­ally, their quest for sex leads the friends to Mau­ri­tius, where they meet Ahana, played by Lisa Hay­don. Ahana is a huge Ak­shay fan. Soon, the friends are pur­su­ing Ak­shay to please Ahana, who they hope will re­turn the favour. Lisa com­bines lethal sex­u­al­ity with ab­so­lute lik­a­bil­ity. Her beauty is dis­arm­ing, and her charm par­tially dis­guises the gross­ness of th­ese men try­ing to se­duce her. The Shau­keens im­proves sub­stan­tially in the sec­ond half, when it be­comes more about Ak­shay and less about the bud­dies. In fact, Ak­shay earns the film an ex­tra star.

An ex­tra star for Ak­shay

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