Dattatraya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) is one hundred and two years, but he doesn’t look a day over 60 with the enthusiasm and carefreeness of a teenager. His son Babulal (Rishi Kapoor) is 70 and, despite a relatively stress-free healthy life, is stuck up and angsty. The two share a house in Mumbai.
One day out of the blue, Dattatraya brings home a life-size cardboard cutout of a Chinese man, who is the Guinness award holder for the worlds’ oldest living person. Dattatraya wants to outlive the Chinese and, because of this strange desire, wants to shift his son to an old age home.
Flabbergasted by his kooky dad’s decision, Babulal has to go through a series of mundane-sounding tasks to keep living in his house. It isn’t long until we piece together that Babulal’s tasks have some sentimental value.
Despite the episodic screenplay, Amitabh and Rishi are mesmerising in 102 Not Out
102 Not Out is an adaptation of a Gujarati stage play written by Saumya Joshi, who also pens the screenplay. Having not seen the play, I can’t do a direct comparison with the source material. I can, however, judge its cinematic worth as a motion picture.
Amitabh Bachchan, although somewhat annoying with his playacting at times, holds the film together well. Rishi Kapoor, surprisingly, is better in parts — but mostly because his character is more straight-laced than Bachchan’s. Their on-screen dynamic is still mesmerising. Both get adequate support from actor Jimit Trivedi, a simple-minded assistant at a pharmacist’s shop who spends most of his time with the old coots.
Jimit Trivedi’s inclusion is a narrative convenience for the audience’s sake. As the story unfolds, he (and in turn we) learns of the little details in Dattatraya and Babulal’s life. This structure of the screenplay is alienating. We, as an audience, are filled in to the back-story when the director deems it necessary. Because of the miniscule plot, this creative call becomes a handicap, giving scenes a jerky, plopped-together feel which limit connection with the characters.
Director Umesh Shukla (OMG! Oh My God) has a hit-and-miss series of events that have the rhythm of a short story, and not a feature film. The payoff is fine but not excellent, with one tearjerker moment. Chances are you won’t love the movie, and you won’t hate it either. It is, simply, good enough.
Published in Dawn, ICON, May 20th, 2018