The biggest takeaway from Umesh Shukla’s “102 Not Out” is that Indian parents never seem to relinquish control of their children’s lives, no matter how old they get. Even if you are 100 years old and your son is a septuagenarian, there is no resisting the temptation to set his life right, because “daddy knows best”.
Amitabh Bachchan plays Dattatreya Vakharia, the annoying parent in question, a 102-year-old man who wants to become the world’s oldest living person and has more enthusiasm than people half his age. His son Babulal (Rishi Kapoor) has not inherited these genes from his father, for he is the very embodiment of the elderly neighbourhood grouch. He has a perpetual scowl, is constantly worried about his health and doesn’t like his father’s devil-may-care attitude.
But Dattatreya decides that if he has to fulfil his dream of living till 118, he could do without his son’s negativity, convinced it will shorten his lifespan. He serves Babulal an ultimatum – either lighten up or go live in an old-age home. A worried Babulal agrees, albeit reluctantly.
Based on a Gujarati play of the same name, director Shukla makes no attempt to rework “102 Not Out” for the big screen. Scenes are staged like they would be in theatre, and there is no attempt to rise beyond the basic premise of the play. This is not Shukla’s first time adapting a play, but with “Oh My God!” (2012) he did a better job. In this one, he seems content to just bring Bachchan and Kapoor together in one frame and let them do their magic. Not that they don’t. Kapoor, especially, is in his usual form, taking great delight in playing the grumpy son who can barely handle his father’s interference. Jimit Trivedi plays their sidekick, overdoing every scene and hamming his way through the film.The prospect of Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor together on screen is an enticing one, but Shukla and writer Saumya Joshi don’t give them enough to do, which is a pity.