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Gulabo Sitabo…Uh Oh

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‘Set in present day Lucknow (India), Gulabo Sitabo is a social satire about two impossibly peculiar human beings – Mirza Chunna Nawab, who stays in a dilapidated mansion and one of the tenants, Baankey Rastogi..’ – This is an excerpt from the description of the new Bollywood film on Amazon Prime.

I don’t know if the description is meant to mock ‘privileged’ people who ‘Netflix and chill’ in their free time or to simply insult their intelligence. Or perhaps it reflects the ignorance of the makers?

Because the two leading characters are far from ‘impossibly peculiar human beings’ – Mirza is beholden to his wife for whatever little he has in life. He is the landlord of a sprawling, crumbling mansion which is under his wife’s name, the rent they get from their tenants is a pittance. In fact, it is the rent amount that can be classified as ‘impossibly peculiar’ – a meager Rs 30-Rs 55 per month. (Rs 30 is less than half a dollar)

The aging Mirza resorts to stealing things from his tenants and sells them off to make some money on the sides. Since some of them haven’t even paid rent for a few months. Landlords who are out to loot their tenants at every chance possible are far from being a rare species.

While Amitabh Bachchan is brilliant as Mirza, a lot of what he says is garbled and hard to understand. I don’t know if it was intentional or unwitting. Ayushman was okay-ish as the uneducated tenant who is barely making his house run on the money he earns from running his flour shop. The support cast members do their jobs right, nothing too impressive.

As a satire, the movie does work, it shows how everybody is selfish, conniving and just out to watch their own back. However, the storytelling is really slow and there are LOT of unnecessary sub-plots and scenes forced in.

The climax of the film is actually pretty good, but it doesn’t fit well with the rest of the narrative. While for the first 75% of the film Shoojit Sircar and team struggle really hard to make it comical, suddenly, towards the end, they decide to make things emotional and zany. It was just jarring and did not seem earnest at all.

Also, the cinematography was a little troublesome, some scenes are too dark (I mean the lighting) and irritating. The real hero of the film is the dilapidated ‘haveli’ and even that doesn’t get enough justice. The background score is also weird and tries to convey something hilarious is happening, even when it’s not.

Some Quorans have asked me to answer a question – What is the point of the film Gulabo Sitabo?.

I think it’s a pretty pointless film and is meant just to entertain us. But if struggles to do even that.

But if you really have to take a moral from this tale, then perhaps it is – excessive greed and stinginess will never get you too far in life.

It’s 2.5/5 from me for this film.

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