Genre: Drama & Comedy
Shoojit Sircar is known for making films that generally come with a social message in the end. His recently-released ‘Gulabo Sitabo’, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana in the lead, too, treads the same path like its predecessors. Initially set to release in theatres, the film had to be released on Amazon Prime Video owing to the pandemic, with a larger audience to cater to. A comedy-satire, ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ is an unusual, but fun-filled tale of two men, who leave no chance to one up against each other.
Mirza Chunnan Nawab (Amitabh Bachchan) is a crabby, selfish and miserly septuagenarian, living in Lucknow with his wife Begum Fatima (Farrukh Jafar), who is 17 years elder to him. While Begum has inherited the grand ancestral haveli Fatima Mahal from her great, great grandfather, Mirza keeps counting days for his wife to conk out so that he can become the sole heir to the building. But the elderly couple are not the only occupants of the haveli. Four families share the same premises on rental basis, which too, adds to Mirza’s pressing problems.
While the world has moved on, the tenants, including Baankey Rastogi’s (Ayushmann Khurrana) family, still pay a meagre 30-50 Rs rent a month to live in the dilapidated building. While Mirza steals and pawns insignificant things around the haveli to keep his pockets full, Baankey runs a flour mill to make a living. Life goes on for everyone, until a toilet wall comes crumbling down, sending Mirza into a tizzy. Then on, he starts to make life miserable for his tenants, meddling into their daily affairs, which in turn, makes them do the unthinkable.
Baankey approaches an archaeological department official Gyanesh (Vijay Raaz) to prove the haveli is a heritage site and cannot be sold, while Mirza catches hold of a lawyer Christopher Clarke (Brijendra Kala), to make his claim stronger. Each man involved in the tussle now has an agenda of his own, with the Begum’s haveli becoming the bone of contention. What ensues thereafter when all characters come together is worth a watch.
‘Gulabo Sitabo’, is a light-hearted tale of two constantly-bickering men, who do not want to give up the place they have been a part of all their lives. While the rundown haveli is the centre of it all, the actors, too, play significant characters, that make the film more believable. The movie plays on the theme – greed is the root of all evil – and Juhi Chaturvedi’s writing and screenplay, bring it alive on the screen. The title ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ draws inspiration from the eponymous Lakhnawi puppetry tale, where a man’s wife Sitabo and his paramour Gulabo are constantly fighting over the man, when they find out about each other. This forms the crux of the story, which is captured on the screen in all earnestness.
Amitabh Bachchan is not called the ‘baap of acting’ for nothing. He gets the nuances of the 78-year-old grumpy man right, including the mannerisms, the gait and the temper. Ayushmann Khurrana’s impoverished Baankey is on point and the actor nails his part perfectly. Vijay Raaz and Brijendra Kala play pivotal roles and make sure they do not go unnoticed. Farrukh Jafar as the snide Begum is a delight to watch. The senior actor knows exactly what her audiences expect from her and she doesn’t disappoint.
Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography captures the old-world charm of Lucknow, giving us a glimpse of the busy lanes, horse carriages and the grand city in all its glory. Chandrashekhar Prajapati’s editing could have been a bit crisper and a couple of reels could have been chopped off to save screen time, needed in parts. Shoojit Sircar brings out the best from his main characters but ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ cannot be termed as his best so far. The dialogues in typical UP lingo are the highlight of the film, which do make you chuckle once in between.
All in all, with a run time of only 120 minutes, the satirical drama is a breezy one-time watch.
Eventznu Rates Gulabo Sitabo : * * ½