Rating: 2.5* / 5*
Duration: 1 hr 47 mnt
Director: Umesh Shukla
Writer: Saumya Joshi
Screenplay: Saumya Joshi & Umesh Shukla
Star Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Jimit Trivedi
Music: Salim Sulaiman
The trailer for ‘102 Not Out’ proudly proclaimed that the star-cast would be getting back together after 17 years. We loved Rishi Kapoor in Kapoor and Sons and Amitabh Bachchan in Piku. So it was reasonable of us to believe that when the two veterans come together to play a septuagenarian and centenarian, then it would obviously be compelling. Though ‘102 Not Out’ does offer its compelling moments, a lackluster storyline and a sloppy screenplay leave a promising star-cast hanging largely in limbo.
Dattaray (Amitabh Bachchan) is your proverbial hedonist, caught in the frame of an old man. He actively dissociates from the clutches of old-age and does allowably adventurous activities like going on an unplanned road-trip in an auto-rickshaw. He has already clocked 102 years in age and is determined to beat the world record as well. What holds him back is his “old school” son, Babulal (Rishi Kapoor) who wants to follow a strict, near-paranoid regimen to keep his old age comfortable. Dattaray harbors intentions of leaving the boring Babulal in an old-age home, lest Babulal changes his ways by completing certain tasks laid out by his father to make him more, ‘excited and confident’. This flimsy premise totters to a teary climax while the story offers some character development for Babulal and almost none for Dattaray. There is Dhiru (Jimit Trivedi) who tries to strike a balance between comic relief and plot filler but probably succeeds in the neither, due to the limited character that he portrays.
Screenplay and Direction
This movie has apparently been adapted from a Gujarati play. But the difficult job of translating a linear, single-stage-based screenplay to a three odd hourlong movie has not been done effectively. As a result, the camera hangs longingly in stretched shots of the characters hollering ‘yo!’ every now and then. The pace moves with little or no planning which can only mean one thing- the makers probably expected the endearing senior citizens to be cutesy enough to carry the weight of the film on their shoulders. But they don’t (for no faults of their own). As a result, jokes lose their punch quickly, emotional scenes come and go in sudden jerks and the camera moves around faces that are too tired of laughing for six to seven seconds at a stretch.
Performances and Dialogue
The actors have done their jobs commendably well here. We obviously expected and were nearly satisfied with the performances of Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan. Jimit Trivedi is also convincing (more than others) as a Gujarati everyman. The dialogues try to carry a lot of weight as they set up the entire premise for laughter. But even they fall flat at times. Still, lines like ‘mere bete ko tere bete ke saamne jeetne nahin dunga’ and ‘zindagi main ek hi baar marna chahiye’ sound pretty nice. Penned by Saumya Joshi, it gets the job largely done.
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The movie opens with a pretty solid song that gives a nod to jazz-blues with singer Hiral Brahmabhatt crooning decently over lush piano chords. The other songs are also well rendered including one sung by Sonu Nigam (Kulfi). The overall sound of the movie is, however, difficult to point, because it keeps on changing to match the uneven pace of the script. Still, Salim-Sulaiman has done a great job at it.
A player can have a pregnant pause in it, waiting for the audience to cheer and clap. A play can use repeated motifs (like ‘yo’) to connect with the local demographic. But a movie must shed these tactics to achieve its goals. While the antics of the two grandpas is moving and infectious, but that alone is not enough to carry ‘102 Not Out’ to a successful inning (a long line of product placements only add to the issues with the movie). You can still give it a watch for the unconventional idea at the core and the genuine effort taken by the cast, but if you feel that the movie gets stumped out of the crease before 2 hours (drawing from the gratuitous cricketing jargon used in the movie), then that’s okay.