Gulabo Sitabo movie review: Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana are a perfect fit for this ‘Haveli’ duel, Shoojit Sircar creates an on-screen deja vu

Movie: Gulabo Sitabo
Star Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vijay Raaz, Brijendra Kala
Director: Shoojit Sircar
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Gulabo Sitabo is the first Bollywood biggie to take ‘direct-to-web’ release and carries humongous expectations as it is helmed by ace director Shoojit Sircar and showcases brilliant and scintillating actors Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana in the lead roles.

Gulabo Sitabo, as we might have thought by the trailer, is not a tale of not mere characters but rather folksy puppets, who are in constant banter with each other, just like two wives of the same husband.
As the screen comes to life, we witness a wizened Amitabh in the character of Marzi who appears to be curmudgeon miser. It is upon him to carry the whole story on his shoulders. He is the owner’s husband and employs his best efforts to take over Fatima Haveli from begum. Even behind loads of prosthetics, Mirza’s love for the haveli and his devious acts to miff the tenants reflects well on the screen.

Ayushmann Khurrana, on the other hand, a school dropout, who is situated in the run-down of the mansion and works in an atta-chakki shop, comes across as a bitter and imprudent character who is unwilling to vacate the house in which his three sisters are also residing along with him.

The face-off between Baankey, who is an unstated leader from the tenant’s side and Mirza, a grumpy old caretaker of Fatima Mahal, takes off when the obsolete brickery wall of the common toilet used by the tenants falls off because of Baankey. Thereafter, begins the complications of addressing the question – ‘who will build the wall?’

Making their own cuts in already troubled waters enters an archaeology department official, Gyanesh Shukla (Vijay Raaz), and a lawyer who specializes in disputed property cases, Christopher Clarke (Brijendra Kala), who assists Baankey and Marzi in their endeavours. But as the story progresses, the audience gets intrigued by what will happen with the old haveli? Who will win in the final chase? Will Bankey led tenants get the LIG flats as promised by the archaeological department or Mirza’s devious plan to take over the haveli will win over every other on-going plot?

This is the kind of writing we expect from writer Juhi Chaturvedi, a constant in Shoojit Sirkar films, who builds the plot step by step, without screaming aloud and getting violent with the narrative as well as with the characters. Her idea of minimalism with quality plot is well reflected in the story. The witty and wacky dialogues in between, is a major steal from the movie, though they do not stay for a long time, they will leave a smile on your face.

The best bit is Director Shoojit Sirkar’s gaze which kept on shifting to bigger spaces, with wide angles which showcase the beautifully crafted Nawabi city Lucknow. The essence of the city will be felt everywhere starting from the language used to the corners of the city where Mirza sells the stolen items in petty prizes, but the central point remains the dilapidated, dingy ‘Fatima Haveli’.

The music is situational and comes on the way when needed. Some lyrics would match the frame so well, that you might feel more involved with the whole concept.

Amitabh Bachchan in the character of Mirza owns the space and rules it like a king though, in contrast with his role in the movie, his presence will make you irritated with the film till the end. Ayushmann is always a treat to watch. He is a master craftsman when it comes to acting and slips into the skin so easily, that sometimes, we forget who’s who! Special recognition to Srishti Shrivastava as Guddo, who plays off the edge without fear and beautifully makes her own space in the movie.

In my opinion, though I missed the zest and sharpness that Shoojit Sircar always delivers in his movie, Gulabo Sitabo is a mixed bag, amusing, witty here and there, but you would stay with the film because of the two stars and their cadences of the Lucknavi language, shines out of the ordinary in this otherwise middling tale.

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