‘102 Not Out’: A heart-warming celebration of life (IANS Review, Rating: ***)

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Film: “102 Not Out”; Director: Umesh Shukla; Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Jimit Trivedi, Mukesh Hariwala; Rating: ***

There have been few more funny and empathetic portraits of generational dramas than Director Umesh Shukla’s, “102 Not Out”. But what makes his film compelling is the presence of three superb actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Jimit Trivedi – who balance the performance scales.

The script written by Saumya Joshi is actually an adaptation of his Gujarati play of the same name, where he astutely mounts the banal observation of life as a journey. Also, his conceptualisation of the characters, infused with the right amount of dramatic ingredients inclusive of humour, is what makes this film rise above the regular Hindi films.

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Slowly and delicately drawing attention and care from the audience, “102 Not Out”, comes to us as a simple story about one family matter. Never disrupting its slow, but steady pace throughout its 102 minutes of run time, it gives us a real slice of life through its intimate human drama filled with over-the-top characters. And, there are many scenes deeply resonating with empathy and understanding behind its composed but caring attitude.

In the beginning, the rhythm of the mundane daily life of septuagenarian Babulal Vakharia (Rishi Kapoor) is established with a concise low-key approach. In direct contrast to him is his, centenarian father, Dattarey Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan). With his joie-de-vivre demeanour, how he infuses zest into his son’s boring life and makes him realise that life is an uplifting journey and not a trudge, forms the crux of the tale. It both touches the heart and challenges the mind.

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Through their natural performances, Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor play characters much beyond their years and the dynamics between them are rock solid.

Both are aptly supported by Jimit Trivedi as the errand boy Dhiru, who is a witness to the father-son, love-hate relationship. Jimit is impressive with his subtle but over-the-top performance and he holds his own against the veterans.

The first half of the film is rudimentary and you need extra patience to hold on. But the second half, though predictable, steadily builds up emotional momentum. You get absorbed by its assured storytelling and would be frequently touched by several moving gestures of human decency. It is indeed a fiction, but it feels real, through its universal family drama and it gently tells us that we can do better than expected to ourselves, in our life.

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Old Hindi film songs, especially, “Zindagi mere ghar aanaa” and “Waqt ne kiyaa” are interestingly meshed into the tale to enhance the flavour of the narrative.

Overall with moderate production values which include basic computer generated images that makes this telling appear like a fairy tale, the film is a heart-warming celebration of life.

–IANS

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