© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
When you want trivial and mundane, you hit the streets, but when you want class, you dress up first and look for the best place you can afford to go to.
To grasp the intonations of various emotions, the prosody of dialogue and the language of the eyes, the depth of thoughts behind the imagery on the screen is a rare feast for the fortunate to enjoy. Steve Jobs taught the world what it should want, rather than catering to what it wanted. Similarly Indian cinema has started moving away from the traditional, more often to loudly shock the audience, but at some other rare times to surprise them with a classic.
Gulabo Sitabo is such a surprise. I couldn’t help but write this, out of my field.
Once during my MD Medicine days, I broke down and confided to my professor Dr. P. Y. Mulay that I am not able to digest the helpless inability to end the incessant suffering, the flow of patients is never ending, it continues in spite of whatever we do. He asked me about my icons. Of course one name among many (Einstein, Sant Dnyaneshwar, Mahatma Gandhi, Stephen Hawking, etc.) was Amitabh Bachchan, he had taught my generation the pride of being upright and the passion to achieve especially against odds.
My professor smiled and told me: “Have you seen that movie where he has a tumour and gets a convulsion? He has convulsed actually as a patient would! It is not easy, one has to observe, immerse oneself in the details. People may think it was just another bit of acting, but even medically his convulsion was nearly perfect. His body language is as perfect as his pronunciation and diction. This needs immense work. One has to accept a lot of pain to achieve whatever one sets out to achieve, that pain and suffering on the way are in fact the part of achievement. Only when you cross this negativity, you will be able to save lives, to end suffering of many. Those words changed my attitude forever.
Now, after about two decades, I got a chance to watch Mr. Amitabh Bachchan’s movie today on its day of release. The legend has grown beyond itself. His voice, his demeanour and his eyes make one realise how far away he has come from the iconic screen image(s) he had made for himself, to perform Mirza. He not only embodies, but appears to be enjoying every bit of being this mischievous old man.
One must imagine the difficulty in maintaining the doubly crooked curvature of Mirza’s (Mr. Bachchan’s character) back, the tilt on one side, the difference between movements of two legs while walking, the postural twist of neck and the difficulty of holding this all together while the face shows a spectrum of every emotion of an expressive old man. This tall man has, all through the movie, bent forward in lower back and then to speak to other characters, has had to turn his neck up. Try doing that (at your own risk)! The wet hoarseness in his voice and the breathless pauses between angry sentences are not only consistent, they underline his oneness with this role. Even the giddiness and falls are portrayed excellently, exactly as they happen in this age group. As he crosses all the bounds of expectations and anticipation, you start to understand why Mr. Amitabh Bachchan is beyond reviews. He probably enjoys acting far more than our opinions about it. Zen! He proves yet again in this film that he is far above any actor in commercial as well as non commercial/ art films in Indian cinema.
Mr. Ayushmann Khurana has played his confident yet frustrated simpleton so naturally that those who have come from poor families will readily identify with the defiant stance of a young man forced by compulsions of life without much money. Very talented and never dramatic.
Mirza’s wife, Begum, played by Mrs. Farrukh Jafar impressed with her nonchalant dialogue delivery.
Everyone else, especially Srishti Shrivastava has done their job really well, complimenting the major duo.
A word for the director Mr. Shoojit Sircar: this movie reflects a very courageous and strong will to overcome the superficial, glazed culture of fast paced but meaningless, noisy filmy clutter catering to a jaded social mindset. Instead, this is a classy feast for those who long for the art called drama, acting and visual expression with infinite colours, sounds, words, beats and silences, enhancing the effect of every moment, and meaningfully so. Not everyone dares break the cliches of dancing to the tunes of times (public), a rare few make a mark upon it.
This film is not for those who want fast and furious, item songs, or loud dramatic expressions of normal. Like I said earlier, dress up for class, open your faculties of perception of the subtle. If you understand the beauty of depth of an effort, the intensity of something so simple as an old man’s love for his possessions, you will thoroughly enjoy this movie.
I am not qualified to review or rate this movie. I am entitled only to express my gratitude for an extremely pleasant feeling of “not all is lost to cheap drama” that this film gave me. After the long lockdown and perpetual hospital stress, this film also reminded me how beautiful past can be, compared to the old age we will all meet one day. We need to reboot our perceptions or the world around us, and redefine our definitions of happiness and possessions. And yes, we need to learn also that we are still amongst icons who work hard to ride their passions, to rise to every challenge and win over it, defying all odds.
Waiting for your next hit, Mr. Bachchan, Sir!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande