All cinema halls in the country are closed due to Corona virus. That’s why not a single film has been released for the last three months. But now the filmmakers have resorted to the OTT platform to release their stuck film. The first released in this was Shoojit Sircar’s film Gulabo Sitabo. Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana’s Gulabo Sitabo releases today on Amazon Prime Video. So will this film be able to entertain the audience, or does Teh fail in its endeavor? Let’s review.
Gulabo Sitabo is the story of a fight between a tenant and a landlord. 78-year-old Mirza Chunnan Nawab (Amitabh Bachchan), Fatima Begum (Farukh Zafar) who is almost 17 years older than him are husband and wife. Begum has a haveli of more than 100 years old in Lucknow named Fatima Mahal. Here she lives with her husband Mirza. The Begum, as she is very old, entrusts the care of the haveli to her husband, Mirza. A part of Fatima Mahal is owned by many tenants who live there for very low rent. One of these tenants is Banke Rastogi (Ayushmann Khurrana). Banke’s family has been living in this mansion for years, which gives only 30 rupees a month in the name of rent. So Mirza wants to get Banke out of the haveli. Mirza asks Banke to increase the rent, but he refuses to pay more, saying he is poor. At the same time, due to lack of money, Mirza is not able to get the dilapidated haveli repaired. The condition of the haveli has become so dilapidated that Banke breaks the wall of the toilet with one kick. Mirza wants Banke to get the damage done, but Banke refuses, saying that the landlord is responsible for repairing the haveli. After this the matter reaches the police. Meanwhile, there is an entry of Mr. Ganesh Mishra (Vijay Raj) of Archaeological Survey of India (Lucknow circle). Ganesh is a cunning bully officer who senses that this dilapidated ruin may (maybe not) become a National Heritage property. He conveys to Banke how his plan can turn out to be better for him (Bankey) and the rest of the tenants. While there, Mirza also meets his lawyer, Christopher Clarke (Brijendra Kala), who specializes in solving property disputes. The lawyer advises Mirza that he should sell this mansion, then the whole quarrel will end. Although the owner of this mansion is a begum, so her siblings can also own this mansion. So Mirza first finds out where his siblings are. After this, what happens next in the film, it is known only after watching the film.
Juhi Chaturvedi’s story is promising and unique. We have seen many movies of tenants being scared. But the landlord being unfairly harassed is also a reality and this film is a rare film to focus on that aspect. Juhi Chaturvedi’s screenplay, however, does not do full justice to the concept. The film features a lot of interesting characters with whom a lot could have been done. Juhi misses this opportunity. Juhi Chaturvedi’s dialogues are conversation-type and simple, some of them quite sharp and witty.
Shoojit Sircar’s direction is good. But he had a weak script in hand so he couldn’t do much with it. However, we have seen films made by him like Vicky Donor and Piku, in which his talent comes out. Gulabo Sitabo is the film of the same zone but his direction does not look perfect. At the same time, there are some good things too – like he captures the beauty of Lucknow well. It would have been a different experience on the big screen. At the same time, he is able to get the best performance from his artists. On the other hand, humor is missing from the film which leaves a gap in the film. Also some of the sequences are shocking, especially in the character of Mirza. On the one hand, he was quite intelligent and wealthy enough to marry the Begum. On the other hand, he was so gentle that he did not even know the exact value of the things kept in the house and went to sell it in the mansion in which he had lived for years.
Gulabo Sitabo begins on a good note, introducing the characters (including the mansion), the relevance of the film’s title and the world they live in. The background score and even the circumstances suggest something funny, but alas, there are hardly any funny moments in the film. The funny moment in the film comes only when Mirza wakes up in the middle of the street and then there are some laughing sequences in the film. The film starts getting better with the entry of Gyanesh Shukla and Christopher Clarke and it increases the game between Mirza and Banke. There seems to be something missing in the film which doesn’t connect with the characters. Only the last 10-15 minutes keep me tied to the film. From here comes a new twist in the story of the film which is unexpected. But the matter does not end here, the film ends on an even more exciting note.
Amitabh Bachchan delivers a strong performance. His make-up is excellent and the way he fits into his character is worth watching. He says a lot with his gestures. Ayushmann Khurrana is also quite entertaining but his screen time is much less than that of Amitabh. This is the second time in a row that Ayushmann has tied up for an extended supporting role. Earlier he also had an extended supporting role in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (2020). Farooq Zafar has a pivotal role and she leaves an indelible impact. In two scenes of the second half, she is covered. Vijay Raj and Brijendra Kala are as dependable as ever. Srishti Srivastava (Guddo) is a very confident person. Other actors like Purnima Sharma (Fauzia), Ananya Dwivedi (Neetu), Ujli Raj (Payal), Sunil Kumar Verma (Mishra ji), Jogi Mallang (Munmun ji), Rajeev Pandey (Police Inspector) and Behram Rana (Abdul Rehman) have made their mark. Fits the character.
There is no life in the music of Shantanu Moitra, Abhishek Arora and Anuj Garg. The theme music is catchy and works well. ‘Madaari Ka Bandar’ is the song which matches the theme of the film. Rest of the songs like ‘Kya Leke Aavo Jagme’, ‘Kanjoos’, ‘Budhu’ etc. are not memorable. Background score is quirky and much better.
Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography is excellent and beautifully depicts Lucknow and especially the dilapidated Haveli. Manasi Dhruv Mehta’s production design also adds a lot to the realism of the film. Veera Kapoor’s costumes also add to the reality in the film. No character looks glamorous from anywhere and it makes the film more real. Pia Cornelius’s prosthetics makeup design is exquisite and enhances the effect of the film. Chandrashekhar Prajapati’s editing is improvised. Though the film is just 124 minutes long, it feels quite slow.
Overall, Gulabo Sitabo is an entertaining film to watch at home. Despite the lack of humor and an average script, the film will work on the strength of its strong performance, set in Lucknow and a twist at the end.