102 Not Out Story: A 102-year-old father Dattatraya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) decides to send his 75-year-old son Babulal (Rishi Kapoor) to an old-age home. He does that because he believes his son’s morose and almost melancholic outlook towards life will come in his way of trying to break the world record of the longest living human.
102 Not Out Review: The unique and refreshing concept of ‘102 Not Out’ is its strength. This film like most other Hindi films is about relationships, but thankfully here the story spins around the bond between two people aged 102 and 75. The narrative never gets too complex, the story is told from the perspective of just the three main characters – Dattatraya, (Amitabh Bachchan), the 102-year-old father, Babu (Rishi Kapoor), the 75 year old son and Dhiru (Jimit Trivedi), their man friday. The film features several locations from Mumbai, but most of it plays out within the walls of the Vakharias’ house. Director Umesh Shukla’s film turns its limitations into its strength. It does not deviate into thrilling scenes or make our jaws drop with unexpected twist, it never tries to be pointlessly clever. And in doing so, it manages to give the audience, the best of what it has to offer.
The highlight of this film are the performances by Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor. Both these brilliant actors have, over the course of their long and illustrious careers, proved that they have impeccable comic timing. Rishi Kapoor plays the grumpy old man with nonchalance. While Amitabh Bachchan plays the loveable centenarian, with the zest of a 20-year-old, with flawless precision. Together, their chemistry and repartee makes for an entertaining experience. It’s great to see such contrasts come together and warm the cockles of your heart. It’s rare to see two leading actors in a film who are 65 (Kapoor) and 76 (Bachchan) years old in real life, working such charm through a story that will find a universal connect with the audience. For the generations that have grown up watching these actors on the silver screen, this film might bring in the nostalgia of the good old days. Young Jimit matches steps with his veteran co-stars and gives a performance that’s just as delightful. The actors though are unable to pull off the sprinkling of Gujarati in the dialogues.
Director Umesh Shukla’s treatment is unmistakably light and breezy. ‘102 Not Out’ has brightly lit frames, attractive production design and a visage that just looks and feels pleasant. The writing by Saumya Joshi, who also penned the original Gujarati play that inspired the film, is in tune with mood of the film. The film even gets dramatic and emotional, specifically in the two scenes where Mr Bachchan shines with impactful monologues. Though, the lack of a backstory for Dattatraya’s character and the absolute absence of something as simple as dinner table conversations, that you’d expect to see between family members in a home, feels a bit odd. The situations in the film manage to draw you on, yet the writing somewhere lacks depth. Also for a 101-minute film it does feel a bit too long.
Films like ‘102 Not Out’ are best enjoyed with the family. The ease with which the film portrays the bittersweet relationship between its characters is fantastic. Such films are like soft serve ice cream on a sparkly Sunday afternoon. They make you happy. There are parts in the film where emotions run high, but it’s never too overbearing. It’s just a happy and healthy entertainer that tells you that living in the moment and making the most of everyday of your life is all that matters. And age of course, as they say, is just a number.