Writer Juhi Chaturvedi and director Shoojit Sircar’s collaborations have given Bollywood some of its finest, most entertaining, and heartwarming stories, like Vicky Donor, Piku, and October.
It was, thus, with a fair share of expectations that I looked out for Gulabo Sitabo, especially when it was announced that Ayushmann Khurrana and Amitabh Bachchan would lead the story.
Having seen the film, I have to say, it is the kind of comedy-drama that deserves a place in your family movie-night. Here’s why:
1. A story that takes us back to the folk tales from our childhood.
The story is actually inspired by a folk tale, enacted through puppets, that talks about two women Gulabo and Sitabo who are forever at odds with each other. The reasons for their quarrels keep changing, but the animosity remains.
Much like Gulabo Sitabo, we have the landlord Mirza (Amitabh) and his tenant Baankey (Ayushmann). And their constant quarrel over rent and ownership of the mansion the two live in, forms the crux of the story.
It’s not a novel story like Vicky Donor, nor does it evoke emotions like October. No, this is a satire that teaches us the lesson that greed is bad, leaves us with a smile on our face, and much like nani-dadi ki kahaniyan, presents characters more interesting than the story itself.
2. Power-packed performances by the entire starcast.
Ayushmann Khurrana is the undisputed leader of making a hero out of the ordinary man. Amitabh Bachchan’s filmography is a masterclass in acting. To expect the two of them to be anything less than brilliant would have been foolish. And yet, despite our expectations, the two manage to surprise and impress with their crackling chemistry.
However, Amitabh Bachchan is exceptionally brilliant in his portrayal of a grouchy miser with a heart of gold. His antics, no matter how petty, remain steeped in an innocence that only Amitabh Bachchan could bring alive with such unerring accuracy.
Vijay Raaz and Brijendra Kala are, like always, a joy to watch. And Srishti Shrivastav manages to hold her own against seasoned performers.
However, Farrukh Jafar is the real star of the show. Her one-liners and expressions tend to draw the audience in, till you feel you are a part of her secret, even when you don’t know what she could be hiding.
3. Colloquial dialogues rich in situational humor, yet far-removed from sexism or vulgarity.
As a writer, Juhi Chaturvedi’s grasp of Indian dialects and traits that are unique to a particular region is truly commendable. In Gulabo Sitabo, insults are the cornerstone on which Mirza and Baankey’s relationship thrives. And what creative, novel insults!
What’s also commendable is how, at no point, do the dialogue or situations normalize sexism or patriarchy in the name of comedy. In fact, the creators consistently offer humor rooted in situations common to us all – like reporters hounding a site for a story!
4. A flawless background score.
The background score of Gulabo Sitabo acts like an intangible element in the film. It hooks your attention, and constantly builds a sense of mystery that has you intrigued about where the story is heading.
From background scores that stated the obvious (thunder=tragedy) to scores like Gulabo Sitabo’s theme that add another layer to the story, it’s an impressive change indeed.
5. An original soundtrack.
The film’s soundtrack had already won me over, simply by having no remixed tune, because that’s how rare original compositions have become in movies these days. It only works in the movie’s favour that each song boasts of beautiful composition and interesting lyrics, that make the soundtrack an eclectic mix.
A special mention to the indulgent, almost loving look at the city of nawabs, Lucknow that the filmmakers have presented. Just like Mirza loves his mansion, irrespective of its dilapidated, crumbling condition, the filmmakers present a Lucknow that is rough and weary on the edges, but still, tugs at your heartstrings.
Gulabo Sitabo is not a groundbreaking film, but it is a film that makes for the perfect family entertainer. And how many such movies have we really come across in recent years?
All images from Amazon Prime Video, unless specified otherwise.