102 Not Out movie review: This Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor-starrer is loud, repetitive but endearing
Amitabh Bachchan immerses into a character who emits positivity and Rishi Kapoor plays a 75-year-old child with delightful ease in 102 Not Out.
A sprightly 102-year-old man has aspirations of beating the world record for the oldest man alive. To achieve this, he needs to live for another 16 years. Dattatreya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) has researched tricks for longevity and one key requirement is to surround oneself with positivity. However, his 75-year-old son, Babulal (Rishi Kapoor), who lives with the centurion, is a sullen, hypochondriac who lacks a lust for life.
In other words, if Dattatreya Vakharia had a car or scooter, his bumper sticker would read: “Age is a state of mind”. In contrast, Babulal’s bumper sticker would probably carry an ‘In case of emergency, contact XYZ’ message.
In order to rid his environment of melancholy, papa decides to send his son to an old age home. Babulal is aghast at this proposition and if he wishes to avoid such a fate, Dattatreya sets a condition. Babublal must successfully complete a set of tasks. This is the amusing set up for 102 Not Out, a film directed by Umesh Shukla (OMG — Oh My God!) which is based on a play (and now screenplay) written by Saumya Joshi.
The delivery boy Dhiru (Jimit Trivedi) from the local pharmacy is the ‘scorekeeper’, as it were. He is also the only other actor with a significant role in this comic-drama that primarily plays out in the family bungalow in Mumbai. Besides one nostalgic Mumbai darshan sequence, the other location is a vibrant street market set, which is so colourful it seems to have been borrowed from Rohit Shetty.
The set up of the various tasks and Babulal’s reaction or completion of them gets repetitive and it takes a while before the narrative gets to the punchline. Through these tasks, we see glimpses of Babulal’s past life, and perhaps his future. Unfortunately we do not learn anything about Dattatreya’s memories, achievements and seemingly rich past. Most endearing is that the father continues to be guide and teacher, and the 75-year-old son remains rather obedient.
The essence of the film is to celebrate life even in the twilight years. Dattatreya’s inexhaustible joie de vivre is offset by Babulal’s fear of living and fear of dying. And it is the father’s mission to bring joy back into his brooding son’s life. In methodically getting to its loaded ending, the script does get emotionally manipulative and even at 102 minutes, it feels like it is wandering around aimlessly.
The glue, then, are the performances – all three main actors pitch in energetically. Bachchan’s Gujarati accent does waver, but his immersion into a character who emits positivity is affecting. Rishi Kapoor is a delight as he transforms from a man with hunched shoulders to one who begins to pause and smell the flowers. He plays a 75-year-old child with ease. It is a delight to watch these talented actors – including Trivedi -- in meaty, albeit exaggerated, roles.
Shukla creates an intimate world in which the obvious tropes do pop up. The pitch is often too loud for film and, with the staging of some scenes, the goings-on occasionally feel more suitable for the theatre than for the big screen.
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