Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana coming together (not literally on Big screen) in an OTT release under the craftsmanship of Shoojit Sircar, with nuances embroidered by acclaimed screenwriter Juhi Chaturvedi.
With such a big-time blend of filmy stalwartness, there comes a baggage of optimal excellence and expectations of cinematic pragmatism and satisfactory pinches of audience gratification. So does this close to a striking landlord-tenant pair lives up to expectations? There is no easy answer to that.
Both Mirza (Amitabh Bachchan) and Baankey (Ayushmann Khurrana) repulsively confront their shortcomings in strikingly different contexts, but this exact confrontation also pairs them together and makes way for some of film’s finest frames stitched with half-laughable dialogues and realism of a Fatima Mahal like crumbling life and uncertain lifelines which Mirza wants to re-ascertain for his ailing Begum, and Baankey for a better house.
The film has been conceptualised on the basis of a traditional puppetry legend famous in the hinterland not far away from Lucknow, whose basic feature is the consistent bickering between a man’s irritated wife (Sitabo) and his pampered mistress (Gulabo), who keep their lives stuffed with confrontations about a fading glorious past, present which gets driven by the wife-mistress circumstances and an uncertain future because of the former two.
As unconventional of Director Shoojit and writer Juhi, the experimentation of cross-gender Gulabo-Sitabo as Mirza and Baankey, is although curiously chuckling but not exceptional. The pairing makes you miss the one makers have formerly presented – Bashkor Banerjee (Big-B) and Piku (Deepika Padukone). Mirza and Baankey do not hit that creative optimal, and that’s one of the film’s most detrimental elements as far as the audience gratification is concerned.
The Lucknawi Zabaan is a striking feature of the entire film, but doesn’t correspond for the slow screenplay which makes you get lost in the nuances of a dilapidated Fatima Mahal, and panoramic Old Nawabi Lucknow which has lived its days of glory.
Amitabh Bachchan, is as great as he could get, but we’ve seen him like this before. There are shades of Bashkor Banerjee (Piku) and Dattatraya Vakhariya (102 Not Out) in Gulabo-Sitabo’s Mirza, and that although makes you admire Mirza more, but the novice element gets missed out in between.
Ayushmann as Baankey is as great as his will to get good business dividends from the ‘aata chakki’ he runs. The introductory frames of Baankey with Mirza entice you to watch further, but with the slower screenplay further into the film, the enticements like that become shallow and start lacking the substance of fine-tuning of two differing backgrounds and a struggle which could have unified them better.
The audience are left high and dry at multiple moments in the second half, and a sad-emotional end to Mirza’s character makes it workable, but not excellent. Watch Gulabo-Sitabo, if you’re a big time Bachchan fan and want to cinematically absorb a workable pairing of Mirza and Baankey this weekend amid the hiatus of nostalgia and fine-tuned Lucknavi zabaan embedded in between the struggling realism of the film.
(With inputs from jagran)