Basu Chatterjee's Shaukeen was a hilarious take on the lust that three old men thrive on. In the 1982 hit, Ashok Kumar, Utpal Dutt and AK Hangal managed to make their sexual fantasies comparatively innocent. Abhishek Sharma's The Shaukeens, however, fails on that very count.
The three main characters, bachelor and social worker KD (Annu Kapoor), Connaught Place shoe-store owner Lali (Anupam Kher), and widower Pinky (Piyush Mishra) a Chawri Bazaar masala merchant, come across as lecherous old men who can be easily hated.
KD, Lali and Pinky are three friends who have been together through the bad and good times in their lives. One morning after having their fill of eye tonic (ogling at young girls as they exercise in a garden in Delhi) the three men, well in their 60s, decide that they need to get out of the country in order to fulfill their fantasies. The wisdom dawns upon them when they mistake someone for a call girl and are caught by the cops. The trio then plans a trip to Mauritius.
Meanwhile, Akshay Kumar, playing himself, is in Mauritius shooting for a film. And that's where the little fun that the movie promises, comes in. Kumar pokes fun at his career, the films he has done and his own public image. The sequences might remind you of Akshay Khanna from the disaster of a film Tees Maar Khan. What makes this one a far better joke is the fact that Kumar elegantly laughs at his own commercial, 'nonsensical' films.
With Mauritius in the backdrop, there is an overdose of Bihari referrences -- Anupam guesses that Lisa must be a Bihari as she speaks Hindi in Mauritius. Anupam, Annu and Piyush's first night in Mauritius gives them a taste of the Bihari overdose as they get a discount on the entry fee just because the man on the counter knows Hindi, only to see a fat lady shaking her love handles to the tunes of a Bhojpuri song. Again when a drunk Kumar stumbles on the stage at an event, someone shouts in the background in a Bihari accent, "Kuccho nahi hua, Akshay Kumar ka stunt tha e to. (Nothing happened, this was just a stunt)".
Kumar's scenes are the only ones that remind you of the expertise director Sharma showed in Tere Bin Laden. Fed up of his commercial success from repetitive films, Kumar seeks the National Award. Co-writers Tigmanshu Dhulia and Abhishek Sharma have perfectly portrayed the troubles of a celeb's life, the pressure of living upto a particular image (in this case doing repetitive helicopter and car stunts in his movies). He is effortless in showcasing his struggles of fights against his own image, living with a business manager who's only concern is making money for the boss and bearing a Bengali director (Subrata Dutta) mainly because he could be Kumar's ticket to the National Awards.
Veteran actors Kher, Mishra and Kapoor are, sadly, wasted in The Shaukeens. While the characters of Kher and Kapoor are over-enthusiastic, that of Mishra is an under-stated one. Though they seem to be sleep-walking through the film, they do have their moments. Mishra's 'ape to man evolution' comes out as funny, mainly because of the facial expressions of the Gulaal-fame actor and the irony that this happens at a time where his character is actually turning ape-like at that very moment! Kapoor delivers his 'jugaad' dialogues perfectly and fits into the role of the rich bachelor who knows he can pull off things with his 'jugaad'.
Lisa Haydon, for most of her part, plays the female body for the old men to letch at. However, in scenes where she confronts Akshay Kumar, her messy-chaotic fan avatar does tickle the funny bone. Playing a bohemian chic, an aspiring designer who makes hats and scarves out of tooth-picks, pigeon feathers and the like, Hayden totally pulls it in the looks department.
So, should you go for The Shaukeens? Watch it only if you are an Akshay fan. He's does not have a screen space of more 20 minutes in this 124-minute-long movie but when he is there, he makes his presence felt.