Directed by Shoojit Sircar, ‘Gulabo Sitabo – Ek Priceless Jodi’ is a film about landlord-tenant disputes pressed into sentiments, greed, nostalgia and unsaid history of an old dilapidated mansion – Fatima Mahal.
Directed by- Shoojit Sircar
Written by- Juhi Chaturvedi
Produced by- Ronnie Lahiri, Sheel Kumar
Star Cast- Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vijay Raaz, Bijendra Kala, Farrukh Jafar, Srishti Srivastava, Tina Bhatia
Mirza Chunnan Nawab played by Amitabh Bachchan is a man of age with a protruding nose, bushy stained beard and insanitary clothes. Mirza is obsessed with his haveli and the fixation is so dire that he wishes the Begum, his consort played by Farukh Jaffer to die since the ownership is in her name. Though, the hindrance between him and his love-affair with the haveli is not finite with just his begum but also the tenants who have possessed the mahal for years and years for a meager rent of 30 and 70 bucks a month.
One of the defining moments in the film comes at the very beginning – the courtyard of the mahal lost all its glory with peeling walls, rusted bricks and algae in the corners of the house. All the characters are put down in the beginning itself – Mirza walking in inside the house with a evergreen crabby face, a complaining tenant about a bulb which was stolen a night before and a Begum who lives in the upper storey away from the poverty stricken ground floor inside a ramshackle yet exorbitant mahal.
Pretty much imaginable of what the dispute is about. Yet the audience is left to wonder how the story would unfold. And that’s what the real stratagem holds the audience in this comedy-drama.
The story is based in Lucknow’s Hazratganj – the city where the mahal is structured gives it a shade and an ambience to build the puzzle. But the story builds up and unravels with time in one corner of the city – Fatima Mahal, the protagonist which flush out the complexities even further.
Centered in a small town of Lucknow, but the women in there shatters all stereotypical notions of how women are set up like such. Guddo played by Srishti Srivastava is an intimidating,’educated’ young woman who is not reluctant to use her femininity to get the work done. She is fierce and declares that she will sit at her maiden home and take care of her family. Begum, the 95 year old owner of the mahal is another amusing character who forgot who she has eloped with will break you into laughter. The character is flawed yet warms your heart.
Baankey Rastogi played by Ayushmann Khurrana is another finest in the film. Though, this film is not his usual film with a pattern – social issue, shattering stereotype and a lesson of morality. Instead, he is yet another character with his own complexities which flows with the narrative.
Mirza, played by Amitabh Bachchan is a greedy old man who married a young woman for her possessions and worldly goods. He is so pitiful that he made a little girl spit a piece of mango because it belongs to him. Yet, despite his pitiness and cupidity one wonders whether anybody ever loved him?
Other mentions are Brijendra Kala as Christopher Clerk who thinks he deserves attention because he speaks English at home, Vijay Raaj as government officer Gyanesh Shukla, Tina Bhatia as Dulhan. All these characters add a charm in the story with a dash of comedy.
The best part of writer Juhi Chaturvedi’s ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ is that it does not scream for attention. It does not make your laugh out loud but it treats you with sudden chuckles and it prefers it this way. Not only the comedy, but the intensity of emotions, nostalgia and warmth are all in the right proportion with thousands of sentiments.