‘Gulabo Sitabo’ Movie Review: Amitabh Bachchan-Ayushmann Khurrana’s social satire is shaky in its foundation, but leaves you with an unexpected twist

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Directed By
Shoojit Sircar

Produced By
Ronnie Lahiri, Sheel Kumar

Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, vijay raaz, Brijendra Kala, Farrukh Jafar, Srishti Shrivastava, Nalneesh Neel, Tina Bhatia, Mohammad Naushad, Archana Shukla, Annanya Dwivedi, Ujali Raj, Sunil Kumar Verma, Azad Mishra, Uday Veer Singh Yadav, Poornima Sharma, Shi Prakash Bajpai, Poonam Mishra, Jogi Mallang, Trilochan Kalra, Behram Rana, Zia Ahmed Khan

Bollywood Bubble Rating
Gulabo Sitabo Movie ReviewWhat’s It About
Set in present-day Lucknow, ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ is a social satire about two impossibly peculiar human beings – Mirza Chunnan Nawab (Amitabh Bachchan), who stays in a dilapidated mansion and one of the tenants, Baankey Rastogi (Ayushmann Khurrana). The mansion may have seen many dramas unfold over a century of its existence, but still has a final act left as the drama of the battle of ownership unfolds, with a priceless lesson to teach.

What’s Hot
Amitabh Bachchan has come up with a stellar act. Not only is his makeup on point, but it’s also the way he has acted and brought the character of the landlord alive that not for a second will you be thinking it’s Amitabh Bachchan. Throughout the 2-hour 4-minute, you will be seeing only Mirza. That’s the beauty of how well he has gone into the character of the 78-year old man who wants to do everything possible in order to get the ownership of the ‘haveli’ he has been living in since he got married.

Vijay Raaz, as the government official from the archaeological department, and Brijendra Kala, as the lawyer, have both come up with parts which you will remember even after the film gets over. The way they made their respective characters relatable to the audience is sheer proof of how much more we need to see them coming onscreen.

The surprise and dhamakedaar package of the movie was surely Srishti Shrivastava. We have seen her before in numerous web shows and even in ‘Gully Boy’, but it is here that she comes out with flying colours. She is stellar as ‘Guddo’ – a girl who knows that she is much more learned than her elder brother but manages to strike a balance skillfully between how much to speak in front of him, and how to act behind his back. Shoojit, you couldn’t have had found a better ‘Guddo’ than Srishti Shrivastava. Fantastic!

On the behind-the-scenes part, Shoojit Sircar, as the director, and Juhi Chaturvedi, as the writer, have spun a brilliant story which is replete with social innuendoes and satirical situations. The way they showcase the characters makes you believe their world to be true. Not for one second in the film do you feel that maybe this is all a characterisation, and nothing is actually real. They make you believe that the characters are real, and the story is happening right in your own backyard. Not many writer-directors can be talked about, in Bollywood, who can come that close to reality. Job well done!

The cinematography by Avik Mukhopadhyay demands special credit. We have always seen Lucknow in films as the city of the nawabs with his rich heritage and culture. But here, Avik manages to bring forth the sordid reality with his camera. The lanes and bylanes of Lucknow and even the dilapidated mansion (haveli) all show that Lucknow is not just rosy in every aspect, and there is a huge stratum of people who are barely managing to make ends meet.

The editing by Chandrashekhar Prajapati is crisp and the run-time isn’t even a minute more than what was needed. Not many films can possibly boast of that.

What’s Not
The biggest let down of the film is Ayushmann Khurrana. While people would have thought this to be an Ayushmann Khurrana movie, considering his back-to-back string of successful films, but sadly, that’s not true. The central character of the film is Amitabh, and the movie totally pivots around him. Ayushmann, who is usually a funny sarcastic guy with some great one-liners, is brought down to just another secondary lead in the film. You will be left wanting more from him, after seeing him perform brilliantly in a similar genre of acting in his recent films like ‘Dream Girl’ or ‘Bala’. Well, it could have been a conscious choice from the director’s end to underplay his character, but from a fan perspective, Ayushmann could have given in a lot more.

The second aspect which lets you down massively is the cat-and-mouse fights between Ayushmann and Amitabh. We were promised or rather, made to believe, that there will be a lot more of fights between the two male leads of the movie. However, that has sadly been dialled down to a bare 6-7 confrontation scenes, which too, aren’t something which will satisfy your hunger for the same. They are pretty much blink-and-miss. Even though the undertone is there throughout, but you will see Amitabh with Brijendra Kala, and Ayushmann with Vijay Raaz more in the film than you will see Amitabh and Ayushmann together onscreen.

The music by Shantanu Moitra, Abhishek Arora and Anuj Garg is not something that is very memorable. Excepting a ‘Madari Ka Bandar’ there are hardly any songs which you will even remember after finishing off the film. The background score by Shantanu is haunting, at times, but dull at pretty much the rest of the time, which makes you wonder, why wasn’t it used more when the milieu of the film was built up so brilliantly.

The film is a good satirical comedy which points out some gaping holes in our current day society. Also, the ending twist is something that will surely leave a lasting taste in your mouth. But will that just be enough to make this 124 minutes long film sustain? Not sure. It’s surely a ONE-TIME WATCH. I am going with 2.5 stars.

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