Film: 102 not out
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Jimit Trivedi
Director: Umesh Shukla
Rating: * * *
It’s an event to cherish, no doubt. Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor, last seen together in ‘Coolie’, are back in the same frame 27 years later, and this time it’s Umesh Shukla who has the honour of directing the thespian duo in a stirring bitter-sweet comedy that puts ‘ageing gracefully’ at the centre of it all. This is Umesh Shukla’s second film (after OMG) also adapted from a Gujarati play, titled 102 Not Out, written by Saumya Joshi.
A centenarian father, fighting fit at 102 and living life with positivity and good cheer, Dattatray Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) devises a plan to get his morose, unhappy, broody septuagenarian son Babulal Vakharia(Rishi Kapoor) to follow his lead. And the peculiar brainwave has the centenarian aiming for an entry into the Guinness book of world records as the oldest man ever, beating the record held by a Chinese. Considering there’s a couple of decades to go before that happens, we have the sparring father-son duo get into reminisces about the past, stirring up suppressed emotions, causing temporary rifts but eventually allowing for an emotional healing and reconciliation – before the narrative runs out of time.
The script appears a little flat and the events that transpire here don’t flesh out into a becoming whole. It’s probably the consequence of not doing enough to transmute the flatness of theatre into the wholesomeness of cinema. Strictly speaking, this film plays out like a recording of a theatre performance – save for the live locations. So it’s ultimately up to the powerhouse performers to hold our attention with their unassailable craft.
Both Amitabh and Rishi have played old men before. Amitabh’s Piku and Rishi’s Kapoor & Sons acts were both individually memorable. Together here, they give it their all, trying to strike sparks off each other in order to create the necessary fire, but the stagey plotting doesn’t allow for the required friction.
Amitabh as the centenarian, obviously channelling Harindranath Chattopadhyay with relish, is a little too energetic and actively physical (he even forgets to carry his walking stick at times, is shown prancing around and kicking a football) to be entirely convincing whereas Rishi’s grumpy act, though honest and heartfelt, feels a little too contrived to pass muster. The friendly neighbourhood chemist boy (played by Jimit Trivedi) is used merely as a filler to fill up the spaces left behind by a sketchy script. While the charismatic screen presence of the two luminous leads cannot be overlooked, it’s actually the striking background score, the nostalgia-inducing sketch-animation highlights of Mumbai and the melodious songs that actually keep you invested.