Disclaimer: The following post contains spoilers from the film, Gulabo Sitabo.
Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo is a comedy-drama that reiterates the lesson, greed is not good, by focusing on the relationship between a landlord, Mirza (Amitabh Bachchan) and one of his tenants, Baankey (Ayushmann Khurrana).
They have the kind of relationship that is marked by constant insults, a never-ending desire to put the other person down, and a begrudging affection – one born from years of staying together.
Like in most of his films, Ayushmann Khurrana does complete justice to his role. And Amitabh Bachchan proves that when it comes to being a versatile performer, there is rarely an actor who can surpass him.
But the true star of the show is undoubtedly Farrukh Jafar who plays Mirza’s wife, Begum, who is senior to him by 15 years.
Begum is Mirza’s wife, but it is obvious that theirs is a marriage of convenience. However, Begum’s sassy personality and one-liners are a salient source of sarcastic, witty humor throughout the film.
Whether it is her constant bickering with her personal aide, Dulahin, the comments she passes on Baankey, or of course, her interactions with her husband Mirza, Begum remains a badass you want to cheer for.
Like when she discovers that Mirza forced her thumbprints on property papers, she exacts revenge by covering all her fingers in bandages. And her infectious, cheeky smile leaves you smiling wide.
Of course, as is revealed in the end, Begum is the one who pulls the ultimate ‘long con’ by selling the mansion before anyone, Mirza or the tenants led by Baankey, could take advantage of her ancestral property.
Having lived her life in the house she loved, she realizes that Mirza is waiting for her to die, so he may sell the property. And thus, at the ripe, old age of 94, she elopes with her former lover Abdul after selling him the mansion for a token amount of Re 1.
After all, she wasn’t senile like she had the house convinced, and her doctor was actually her lawyer helping her plan the sale of the property.
Her letter makes it clear that the only reason Mirza and Begum married each other, was because of their first love – the mansion. And once she realized her prized house was being plotted over, she takes matters in her own hands, literally.
There is no denying that it is a well-developed character. But 87-year-old Farrukh Jafar brings a vibrant, mischievous energy to the character, that belies her age.
Barring the final letter, she has only a handful of dialogues. And yet, every time she appears on-screen, your attention immediately snaps to her, as you gleefully wait for her jibes.
Farrukh Jafar, who has been a part of movies like Secret Superstar, Swades, Peepli Live, was actually the first female Vividh Bharti announcer on radio.
She made her movie debut with the 1981 Umrao Jaan where she played Rekha’s mother. She got her next role after a break of almost two decades when she played Fatima Bi in Swades.
She belongs to the league of actors who are so in-tune with their characters, that their every performance feels effortless. And this is exactly why Begum is the undisputed star of Gulabo Sitabo.
All images from Amazon Prime Video, unless specified otherwise.