Being one of the first big ticket movies to have a direct OTT release, Gulabo Sitabo written by Juhi Chaturvedi and directed by Shoojit Sircar had a lot riding on it. Shoojit Sircar back with Big B after Piku and Ayushmann Khurrana fulfilling his dream to share screen space with Big B, the movie released amidst a lot of positive vibes, optimistic buzz and content hungry audience waiting to watch it from the comfort of their couches. And what we get finally is neither disappointment worthy nor delightfully captivating.
Mirza, played by Big B acts as a self claimed septuagenarian owner of the dilapidated about-to-collapse-tomorrow Fatima Mahal. You always see him throwing tantrums on his tenants(especially baankey) and torturing them in unimaginable ways. Baankey (one of the tenants), played by Ayushmann acts as an uneducated who owns and works in an atta grinding shop (and also lisps while talking). He has 3 sisters and a mother to take care of and is the sole bread winner. The family manages to sustain by paying lesser rent and cheating Mirza on the occasions of a rent hike. But the movie is neither about Mirza nor Baankey, but about Fatima Mahal, both the person and the building. Giving away anything more than this would further thin an already wafer thin plot line. Watch the movie to revel in the profundity of something more primal and deeply thought provoking.
Mirza is a character that no-one else could have done it better than Big B(in hindsight) . He is cunning like a fox and surreptitious like a snake, miraculously both at the same time. With a stooped back and big eyes, he always looks down at his tenants and magnifies minor issues. His greed is aptly used as wing beneath the winds by the writer for moving the plot ahead. The uncomfortable body language and prosthetics are just an indication of how passionate he is about cinema and the craft of acting even at this age. Big B like always delivers yet another stupendous performance. But Ayushmann's character didn't have enough layers for him to perform. For most of his screen time, he is irritated and frustrated on Mirza which is justifiable as per the character arc, but any decent actor could've pulled it off with ease. And coming to Fatima, well watch the movie for this character.
Coming to the screenplay, the first shot of Mirza plucking out the glowing light bulb from it's socket was a beautiful way to communicate the fact that Mirza's actions are going to darken his life in the coming days. The setup seemed a bit dragging, but only to pick up pace as it progresses into the main plot. The writer tried to integrate some sub plots for depth but they mostly acted against the movie as they weren't seamless. Most of the comedy is through the dialogues and their delivery, not through the screenplay. My favourite from the movie is one, Baankey's sisters ask him to appear for tenth exams at the age of late twenties and they would teach him the subjects to pass and two, when Mirza forces 2 children to get down from a moving rickshaw as they don't earn the money to pay for the fare.
You get to see the raw unfiltered streets, markets, and historical places of Lucknow and they don't seem unreal even for a while. The usage of doha style songs as background pieces work like magic and is a major empathiser.
Finally, the writer talks about the love that we as humans develop towards non living things for they have a redemption value and probably that's the reason why humans have stopped loving other humans. The resolution part of the story beautifully communicates that quid pro quo love and the object of love are temporary and a sure shot way towards unhappiness.
So give it a watch this weekend and as said it is neither disappointment worthy nor delightfully captivating. If you takeaway the right lessons after watching this movie, you'll be a bit more wiser than before.