Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor
Direction: Umesh Shukla
Essentially endearing though it is, ‘102 not out’ needs the stellar performances of Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor to ride all the way into our hearts. Umesh Shukla’s film lacks the fine balance that would have made it compelling throughout, but the story of an unusual relationship between a 75-year-old son and his 102-year-old father is by itself an interesting premise – enough to keep one invested.
The son (Rishi) has embraced old age and is happy to be living the predictable-albeit-drab life of a senior citizen. His father (Amitabh), instead, is feisty and headstrong and wants to break the record of a Chinese man for having lived the longest. To accomplish this feat, the father threatens to send his son to an old-age home, because he wants to be surrounded by positive energy and not by a defeatist who is awaiting his own death and has no zeal to be alive.
The father, thus, sets up several challenges for his son. Successful completion of these tasks would allow the younger person to avert the impending move to the old-age home. The tasks are set to resonate with the son’s past and although they seem to make sense in the bigger scheme of things, they make for a very dull watch.
All the humour, the emotions and the drama here are courtesy of these fine veteran actors whose unusual camaraderie comes alive on the big screen. Amitabh laces his performance with humour, affection and tacit anger. He is indulgent, stubborn and intolerant of ungratefulness, all at once. Even at the ripe old age of 102, the strength of his character is all very apparent.
Rishi is in top form as the slightly bewildered son – unsure of how to deal with his father’s bizarre demands. Underconfident and overcautious, he is wary of being confrontational initially, but it is interesting to see him evolve and become resolute as the plot progresses.
Rishi also has a son in the US – one who rarely visits him and – and it is in the moments when he is himself struggling as a father that the actor in him shines through. For, aren’t these issues that confront us all – ungrateful children who take their parents for granted; children who assume their inheritance to be a birthright?
There are genuine moments that will make you smile and tear up. What is lacking is a directorial flourish that would have lifted the performances from merely good to something extraordinary.
That there is not even a cursory attempt at making the actors’ wigs look natural is not simply amusing – it is a huge letdown.
Watch ‘102 Not Out’ for the lead actors. Their memorable portrayals alone make this one worth a visit to theatre.