Movie Review: ‘102 Not Out’

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When you know the director is Umesh Shukla, you should also know that his film would have a good social message and be a family entertainer. ‘102 Not Out’ promises exactly that with stalwarts Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor sharing the screen after a huge gap of over two decades. The first trailers and songs upped the excitement for the film, the plot of which was intriguing to say the least. However, does the film deliver what it comes across to portray on the package?

Babulal Vakharia (Kapoor) is a 75-year-old man, living with his 102-year-old father Dattatraya Vakharia (Bachchan). While Babulal is younger, his mentality is that of an old soul, who has arguably come to terms with the fact that he is at the end of his life. With hypochondriac tendencies and an overall bleak outlook, he doesn’t compare with his father who is young at heart and young in mentality. When Dattatraya decides her want to break the world record and live until 118, he goes about trying to get his son to change his outlook, threatening to put him in an old people’s home. Slowly, Dattatraya places conditions on his son but do these manage to have that any long-term effect?

It has to be said that Shukla has, once again, struck gold with the star cast. Seeing Bachchan and Kapoor as father and son is indeed a delight and the story, originally based on a Gujarati play, is a simple but effective one. Shukla manages to carve the two characters perfectly as opposites but those who are, in the most part, on the same side of life. He positions the plot around many social norms and thoughts but in a way that makes the audiences sit up and take notice. It’s preachy but never overpoweringly so and the credit for this is also in the two actors’ performances.

Bachchan and Kapoor shine as Babulal and Dattatraya, with their chemistry and comfort shining through the script. It is indeed a delight to see them with one another in this way. They are what keeps the film engaging all through despite some slight weaknesses in the plot. Kapoor as Babulal performs a somewhat similar role as 2016’s ‘Kapoor & Sons’, with a difference in his spirit. However, the transition this character has during the film is great to see, with many nuances being very identifiable to the audiences. Bachchan, on the other hand, shows his versatility once more. Changing his entire look in the film is one thing but his strength as a patriarch who is young at heart gives an interesting take for the audiences as he sometimes also comes across as younger than his son but sometimes a protective parent. Jimit Trivedi who plays Dhiru, the trusted friend of Dattatraya’s who helps him with the conditions he places on his son, is a great addition to the cast and plays the Gujarati character very well.

Sadly, the music of the film serves only the purpose of the plot but it’s not likely that it will live on. Bachche Ki Jaan and Badumbaa are the ones that particularly stand out but unfortunately in a year’s time, it won’t be really be songs that you will have in your mind. Nevertheless, for the film, they are what was needed.

Overall, ‘102 Not Out’ is a slice-of-life film with a quite a difference. There is a challenge of societal norms within the plot but there are also subtle life lessons within them. There are dramatic parts but also some great comedy. To sum it up, there are instances and feelings involved which every member of the audience will identify with along the way. This is what makes the film such a joy. After a very long time, here’s a film which is a family entertainer that you really can watch with your whole family and have a warmth in your heart at the end. In fact, it could be defined (arguably) as a fresh take on Karan Johar’s famous tagline “It’s all about loving your parents”.

BizAsiaLive.com rating: 4/5

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