Star Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vijay Raaz, Brijendra Kala, Srishti Shrivastava and Farrukh Jafar
Director: Shoojit Sircar
Writer: Juhi Chaturvedi
Producers: Ronnie Lahiri, Sheel Kumar
Production Banner: Rising Sun Films, Kino Works
Well, even before starting the movie, I knew I was in for good fun as only Shoojit Sircar could make a film possible with the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan and a stellar actor Ayushmann Khurrana. The film just like its title 'Gulabo Sitabo' is crazy, goofy and you would like to sit with some popcorn from the start as the storyline will keep you engaged throughout.
The title 'Gulabo Sitabo' was coined to celebrate the dying art of puppetry and is inspired by an Uttar Pradesh-based traditional puppeteer who narrates the stories revolving around two female glove puppets — a man’s courtesan (Gulabo) and his wife (Sitabo) — who are always fighting just like our lead characters of the film - Mirza Sheikh (Amitabh Bachchan) and Baankey Sodhi (Ayushmann Khurrana). Mirza is a mischievous miser and a greedy landlord who has given rooms in his mansion - Fatima Mahal - on rent. Baankey is one of the four tenants that live in the mansion with his family and hates how Mirza is such a greedy person. The story revolves around the lives of these two characters, Mirza's love for the mansion and how one's greed and another's low-income life brings chaos around.
The story begins with establishing one very prominent characteristic of Mirza that is that he loves money and would do anything to have more of it. He would steal bulbs, scold tenants to not use electricity unnecessarily and even charge a parking fee from Baankey as he pays less rent just to earn some extra bucks. All these habits of Mirza annoy Baankey and he never pays any heed to Mirza's goofy antics and docile threats. Baankey is determined not to abandon the mansion come what may and and continues to live in his house without even paying the rent. Mirza is not ready to keep him in his priceless mansion which is in ruins and does everything to kick him out. The two are seen bickering because of the same and you will definitely enjoy their banter.
Things continue to work the same way until Baankey strikes a bathroom wall down by mistake. Mirza is agitated and asks Baankey to repair it but he insists that Mirza should be the one taking care of it as he is the owner. The dispute is then taken to a police station where a government archaeology officer, Gyanesh Shukla (essayed by Vijay Raaz) gets to know about this 100 years old mansion. He visits the place to check how old the building is to declare it as a national heritage site. While this is happening in the background, Mirza is guided by his friend to throw all the tenants out and wait for his wife - Begum (essayed by Farrukh Jafar), the property owner of the mansion, to die in order to become the sole owner of the mansion. Mirza who is greedy for the mansion likes the idea and meets a lawyer Christopher Clark (essayed by Brijendra Kala) to figure out how to throw the tenants out.
Meanwhile, Baankey meets Shukla who tells him that he will give all the tenants a nice place to live if he helps him. In the greed of having a comfortable place to live in, Baankey also agrees to cooperate with Shukla. Mirza gets to know about this and is now even more eager to remove the tenants. When he realises that this might not be possible, his lawyer advices him to sell the property. This whole scenario creates a ruckus and it's fun to see how both Baankey and Mirza try to get what they want.
At this point you might think you know what's going to happen next but Juhi knows how to twist a story well and you will be surprised to see what happens in the climax.
Talking about the direction, storyline and music
When Shoojit Sircar is working on a film, you know you cannot really find any dull points direction-wise. The film never lost its touch to the nawabi feel of Lucknow. Being from the city myself, I felt happy seeing how Shoojit managed to keep the feeling of timeless, beautiful Lucknow intact throughout the film. But that is not the best part about the film. From its characters to the storyline, nothing looks forced. Ayushamnn and Amitabh have dwelled in their characters very smoothly and the mere way in which the characters interact with each other will keep you entertained.
The storyline is intact and neither the director nor the writer has wasted anytime in beating around the bush. Everything is authentic and I can guarantee you that you will not get bored for a minute. The director's vision that he just wanted the camera to go inside this mansion and observe these characters is a working concept. It's so natural that you will very easily be able to look into everyday people's life who come from an economically lower background and their everyday struggle and their turbulent life.
Talking about the music,
Gulbo Sitabo is packed with ten songs. All of them are original compositions by Anuj Garg, Shantanu Moitra and Abhishek Arora. The folk touch in many songs makes it a very good album.
Talking about the characters,
There is really nothing new that I can add because we have already seen Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana work the space. Amitabh Bachchan's hunchbacked, curmudgeonly and rude character might not sound likeable but you will easily fall in love with his goofy nature. At some point you might feel bad about him too but then it's worth spending two hours to watch Big B in this new character.
Ayushmann Khurrana was also being stereotyped for doing certain kinds of roles but this new version of him in Gulabo Sitabo is refreshing. He slurs a few times while talking and you will love how the actor has managed to ace this twist.
Vijay Raaz yet again gave an effortless performance, Brijendra Kala was also like a terrific addition to this chaos. Shrishti Shrivastava deserves a special mention as well as her offhand depiction of a local Lucknowi girl is commendable. We cannot forget to mention Farrukh Jafar who is an absolute delight to watch.
A real-life puppeteer (Mohammed Naushad) is seen performing at different points in the film, very casually talking about the larger truths that surround Mirza, Baankey and Lucknow and makes the film even more special.
Gulabo Sitabo is about common people and how many a time they resort to doing regretful things in the hope of bettering their lot. However, similar to the dilapidated centre of attention - The Fatima Mahal, nothing in this satirical comedy is as it appears and nothing you think will happen yields accordingly at the end.
A MUST WATCH for all cinema lovers who want to live a few moments in Lucknow. You will not get bored for a minute and that is a commendable job done by the team.