Three dirty old men ‘leching’ at a pretty young thing is what ‘The Shaukeens’ sets out to show. If it had stuck to its guns, made its threesome more interesting, and the girl less ditsy, this remake of Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Shaukeen’ (1982), would have done its job.
But the reprise mixes a star (Akshay Kumar) swanning about playing himself, and doing, I might add, a better job than he has in his last few films, which takes away from the chief focus. Which is not such a bad thing, because the trio of dirty old men KD, Lali and Pinky (Anuu Kapoor, Anupam Kher and Piyush Mishra) is dull: when they are on screen, nothing much lifts off, not even the object of their desire, the lissome bikini-clad (Lisa Haydon) cavorting in the lovely blue ocean in Mauritius, where most of the film is set in.
The free-spirited Lisa Haydon, who was so good in ‘Queen’, quickly becomes tiresome. You can see she is trying hard, but she can’t do anything about the way her character has been written. And that’s the problem with the men, too. The little details — Rati Agnihotri was in the original ‘Shaukeen’, and has a cameo here as Anupam Kher’s not-interested wife; Piyush Mishra plays a ‘masala’ king with a ‘non-masala’ life with a soft spot for a massage girl; and Annu Kapoor is the ‘dil-phenk’ bachelor with a sad back-story—could have been made much more of.
It is Akshay Kumar, playing himself, or rather a superstar like himself with a thing for alcohol and a sudden yen for actorly respectability via a National award, who is the best part of the film. This is the star getting away from the things he pokes fun at— “same helicopter se latakna, same car chases” etc which lead to the ‘200 crore club’, and finding his funny bone. But those jokes get stretched, and finally we stop even faintly sniggering, like we did at the occasional haha-inducing lines.
And how much crassness can be stuffed into a film? After its third mention, I stopped counting the times ‘tharki’ and ‘buddhas’ were said in the same breath.