Tag Archives: Umesh Shukla

Movie Review: 102 Not Out (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the soundtrack at Amazon or iTunes

A centenarian father tries to loosen up his grumpy, geriatric son in 102 Not Out, a funny, poignant take on parent-child relationships.

102-year-old Dattatraya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) announces to his 75-year-old son Babulal (Rishi Kapoor) his intention to become the world’s longest-lived man, breaking a record held by a Chinese man who lived to 118. Dattatraya claims that the current record holder said in an interview that “old, boring, unenthusiastic people are more injurious to health than cigarettes.”

That description fits Babulal to a tee. He’s cautious and cranky, and nothing makes him happy — a perfect foil to his fun-loving, curious father. Dattatraya believes the best way to protect his own health and beat the record is to remove Babulal’s negative influence from his life. Dattatraya hands Babulal a brochure for an old folks’ home and tells him to pack his bags.

When a flustered Babulal protests, Dattatraya offers him a way out. Babulal can stay if he agrees to perform a series of tasks determined by his father, designed to shake Babulal out of his routine. To make the agreement official, the tasks are logged and witnessed by Dhiru (Jimit Trivedi), a 30-something pharmacy delivery man Dattatraya adopts as his sidekick.

Fulfilling Dattatraya’s conditions initially brings the three men closer together, but as they get closer to the heart of Babulal’s unhappiness, Dattatraya’s unorthodox prescriptions threaten to drive a permanent wedge between them.

Director Umesh Shukla’s picturization of Saumya Joshi’s play touches on a number of interesting themes, some of which seem in opposition to one another. Dattatreya demands that Babulal change, but he also wants Babulal to accept people as they are — chiefly Babulal’s absent son, Amol. While he’s busy wishing for a more gratifying relationship with Amol, Babulal ignores the fact that there’s a young man, Dhiru, who’s happy to accompany him on Dattatreya’s quests.

One aspect that could’ve been explored further is the idea that, even though Babulal is himself a grandparent, Dattatreya has sole claim to the maxim “father knows best” so long as he lives. Babulal just mentions it once, grousing about Dattatreya’s luck that his own father died while Dattatreya was young enough to enjoy the perks of being the head of the household. The story offers only two options for parent-child relationships — total deference to the parent or estrangement — and it would’ve been interesting to see if the characters could reach some middle ground.

The comfortable rapport Bachchan and Kapoor have developed after more than four decades of experience working together peeks through in small gestures, like the grin on Babulal’s face as Dattatreya lip-syncs old movie tunes to him. Trivedi fits in perfectly with the veteran duo.

102 Not Out is brief enough never to lose momentum, the story flowing between comedy and drama as it addresses family dynamics that are often times as comical as they are dramatic.

Links

Advertisements

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2015

While the majority of the worst Bollywood films of 2015 are guilty of garden variety stupidity, a pair of movies were especially loathsome. Here are my picks for the worst Bollywood movies of 2015. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

The dual-narrative romantic drama Roy wound up on the list due to an excess of ennui and emotionally immature dialogue.

I wish that both Gabbar Is Back and Welcome Back had stayed away.

Jazbaa managed to make talented actors Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Irrfan Khan look ridiculous (and green-tinted).

Two awful examples of Bollywood nepotism made the list. Producer-offspring Jackky Bhagnani’s inevitable rise to super-stardom was deferred yet again by his awful performance in Welcome 2 Karachi. In her Bollywood debut, Govinda’s daughter Tina single-handedly ruins Second Hand Husband with her squinty delivery and nonexistent dance moves.

The most painful theater-going experience of the year was Shamitabh, a movie so annoying that I was literally begging out loud for it to end.

Dirty Politics is a textbook example of how not to make a movie.

The offensive Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 came in a close second place for suggesting that all women who report being raped are liars. That such a hateful movie purports to be a comedy makes it all the more disturbing.

My worst movie of 2015 struck a nerve, going beyond just offending and veering into moral recklessness. Director Umesh Shukla and writers Sumit Arora and Niren Bhatt should be ashamed for claiming that Alzheimer’s disease is a result of filial neglect that can easily be cured if children are nicer to their parents. Given that a lack of awareness about Alzheimer’s persists in India, using a film to offer bogus medical advice and assign undeserved blame is irresponsible. For those reasons — in addition to it being just a plain old sucky movie — my worst Bollywood film of 2015 is All Is Well.

Kathy’s Ten Worst Bollywood Movies of 2015

  1. All Is Well — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
  2. Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 — Buy at Amazon
  3. Dirty Politics — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
  4. Shamitabh — Buy at Amazon
  5. Second Hand Husband
  6. Welcome 2 Karachi
  7. Jazbaa — Buy/rent at Amazon
  8. Welcome Back — Buy at Amazon
  9. Gabbar Is Back — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
  10. Roy — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon

Previous Worst Movies Lists

Movie Review: All Is Well (2015)

AllIsWellZero Stars (out of 4)

Buy/rent the movie at iTunes
Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Few movies have angered me as much as All Is Well. It’s cruel and offensive, making light of human suffering for the sake of an easy moral lesson.

This is a huge surprise given that Umesh Shukla is behind the camera. The last film he directed (and co-wrote) — 2012’s OMG: Oh My God — is funny, understanding, and generous of spirit. Then again, Shukla also directed 2009’s Dhoondte Reh Jaoge, a rip-off of The Producers that I also described as offensive. Maybe OMG was the aberration, and All Is Well is Shukla showing his true colors again.

All Is Well fancies itself a comedy about a bickering father and son, played by Rishi Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan, respectively. When Bhalla (Kapoor) isn’t losing money via his unpopular bakery, he’s yelling at his wife Pammi (Supriya Pathak) and son Inder (Bachchan).

Growing up in such a hostile environment turns Inder into a complete misanthrope. After having been kicked out of the house for calling his dad a loser, he’s spent ten years in Bangkok, avoiding his parents and struggling as a musician.

Inder’s misanthropy is most acutely directed at Nimmi (Asin Thottumkal), a brain-dead chatterbox who is in love with him. Nimmi is so oblivious that she can’t recognize Inder’s contempt for her. Her arranged marriage subplot is shoddily tacked on to the main story, in which Inder is tricked into coming home to settle his father’s debts. Everyone is an unrepentant jerk throughout, and few cinematic “happy endings” have felt less earned.

All Is Well does wrong by so many people. Dwarfs and people with dark complexions are the butt of needless, hurtful jokes. The movie — written by Sumit Arora and Niren Bhatt — has no respect for women, hence why Nimmi is portrayed as a total dumbass, desperate to marry.

No character suffers as much as Pammi, who is a human plot device. Inder returns to India to find his mother in an “old folks home” suffering from Alzheimer’s. (Note that Pathak is only 54.) The movie makes the following untrue claims about Alzheimer’s, all in the name of moving the story forward:

  • The progression of Alzheimer’s can be stalled if you keep the patient happy at all times.
  • Alzheimer’s is caused by familial neglect, somewhat on the part of one’s spouse, but mostly due to neglect by one’s children.
  • Alzheimer’s can be improved, if not outright cured, if said neglectful children move back in with their parents.

I haven’t mentioned it at this website, but earlier this year, my mother died in her mid-sixties after suffering for five years with a degenerative neurological condition. Not Alzheimer’s, but another incapacitating disease with no specific cause and with a similarly slow decline (both mental and physical) and grim prognosis.

It’s hard to watch a parent undergo such hardship without any hope of a cure and without anyone to blame for it. There was no accident, no source of infection. There was no one to yell at, no one to sue — not that it would have helped. She was predisposed to get sick, she did, and it was horrible.

So, for Umesh Shukla, Sumit Arora, and Niren Bhatt to imply that someone like my mom might suffer a terrible death because her kids didn’t pay enough attention to her is bullshit. It’s offensive, and it’s mean.

To make light of such a dreadful condition for the sake of a comedy film is beyond callous. Pammi might as well be just another prop, the way she’s shuffled from car to house, forced into a situation she can’t possibly understand. She utters only a handful of words, which is a tremendous waste of an actress of Pathak’s caliber.

There’s no reason to see All Is Well. None. Something this hateful shouldn’t be rewarded.

Links