102 Not Out has been making its rounds in media promotions for several months with viewers waiting in anticipation for the return of one of yesteryear’s dynamic duos – Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor. After a three-year hiatus, director Umesh Shukla (of Oh My God fame) returns with an entertaining dramedy (drama + comedy) about a unique father-son relationship between 102-year-old Dattatraya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) and 75-year-old Baabulal Vakharia (Rishi Kapoor). Caught in the middle of this dynamic is a young lad named Dhiru (Jimit Trivedi), who keeps these men company in all their antics and adventures.
From the start of the movie, Dattatraya’s exuberant zest for life is infectious and exists as a stark contrast to the highly routined lifestyle of his son Baabu. In his quest to beat the world record of the oldest man alive and win that title for himself, Dattatraya is determined to transform his grumpy son into a more positive spontaneous person who loves life. In the process of following his father’s conditions, Baabu gains a newfound approach to and respect for his past, present, and future through a series of transformative experiences that remind him of the reasons why life is worth living.
The move towards more realistic storytelling in the Bollywood film industry is a welcome change from the frivolous (yet classic and quintessential) romance that characterized previous eras. In addition to being entertaining and comedic, 102 Not Out also touches on some heavy themes, including death and dying, attachment, aging, and adult parent-child relationships. The nuances in the multiplicity of roles held by Baabu, as both a son and a father, are an integral part of his characterization, transformation, and subsequent realizations about how to live in a self-compassionate way. Dattatraya does not simply help his son survive – he gives him space to thrive and helps him find energy to direct his own life. From the silly jokes to the deep meaningful insights about life, every moment of this film feels so real and human.
One of the highlights of 102 Not Out is certainly the music by Salim Sulaiman, whose infusion of jazz, salsa, and other styles are as diverse as Mumbai itself (where the film takes place). Laxman Utekar’s cinematography of concluding scenes with snapped pictures and sketches captures the essence of every scene and highlights important moments throughout. Needless to say, Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor deliver fantastic performances in their respective roles, and their chemistry and camaraderie is both entertaining and endearing. One can only hope for more films that display such unique but important themes and focus on different kinds of relationships.
Final Verdict: 102 Not Out is a movie that instills hope and offers new visions for how to approach living the latter part of life. Short, sweet, and sentimental, this heartwarming love story between a father and son is a must watch for 2018!