Duration: 1 Hr 31 Mins
Director: Shoojit Sircar
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Release Date: 12th June 2020
Streaming On: Amazon Prime
Star Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vijay Raaz, Brijendra Kala, Shrishti Shrivastava, Farrukh Jafar
Plot: Shoojit Sircar’s new film Gulabo Sitabo, a tragi-comedy is set in the old city of Lucknow, where Fatima Mahal - a 100-year-old crumbling mansion, home to multiple families who pay a measly rent ranging from 30-70 rupees is at the center of a long feud between its owner’s crabby husband Mirza (Amitabh Bachchan) and their stubborn, defiant tenant Baankey Rastogi (Ayushmann Khurrana) who neither leaves nor pays the rent on time.
The domestic spat between them spirals when other players from outside the residence get involved in it, for their own vested interest.
Review: Earlier the film was supposed to have a theatrical release, but due to the theatres being closed nationwide, the film has been released digitally.
Director Shoojit Sircar has done a fair job of capturing the ups and downs of the tussle between the two men who essentially want the same thing – the security and permanence of owning their homes. Since they fail to empathize with each other’s situation, neither of the two - nor the audience - knows how it will all turn out for them and the building they live in. And that is what keeps the intrigue level high in this comedic drama.
Another twist is the odd pairing of Mirza and Fatima Begum (Farrukh Jaffar), who are 15 years apart: a marriage that has its own quirky backstory. Hence, it would have been interesting if the narrative would have spent a little more time on scenes between Mirza and Fatima, for more of conversations and banter to play out between the two of them.
When it comes to performances, Amitabh Bachchan owns the role. With his thick beard, even thicker glasses, crouched shoulders, and a limp in his walk, he sinks into the grouchy, shrewd yet hilarious character of Mirza with absolute comfort. Whereas, once again the very-abled Ayushmann Khurrana as Baankey brings something new to the table. His body language tellingly portrays bitterness borne out of poverty and sadness. Interestingly, what makes us feel sorry for his circumstances is not what he is saying, but the characters around him who bring him down.
While the other star casts - Srishti Shrivastava who has stood out in her previous outings on web shows, impresses here too. Brijendra Kala and Vijay Raaz are quick-witted, comical, and complement the leading characters with ease. Fatima Begum is hilarious as a standalone. She is no less whacky than the rest of them, but her character could have been chalked out better.
Juhi Chaturvedi, who is also credited for the dialogues and screenplay, has penned the story that is intelligent, witty, with characters that are whimsical and funnily dark. Moreover, humour springs from the language and the manner of its delivery.
Coming to the technical aspects, Abhik Mukhopadhyay - the three-time National Award winner took the charge behind the camera, and perfectly showcased almost every other frame of Lucknow’s old-world charm. His camera shows us truths that even the characters are not ready to see.
As far as the music is concerned, the deep, meaningful, and honest lyrics by Dinesh Pant, Puneet Sharma and Vinod Dubey, along with Shantanu Moitra’s quirky tunes that comes with original score earned some brownie points.
Overall, with a climax that’s surprising, dark and humorous Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ brings out a message, that is short and simple: that it’s okay to desire a lot in life but greediness often doesn’t land you in the right place - whether it is a person’s heart or a house!