Gulabo Sitabo: ‘Amitabh, Ayushmann give us one of the finest films of the year’

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Here’s what the critics are saying about Gulabo Sitabo starring Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vijay Raaz, Brijendra Kala, Farrukh Jafar, Srishti Shrivastava, Tina Bhatia and others.

Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana give us one of the finest films of the year (Hindustan Times)

Unlike a Piku or even October, the people who inhabit the frame in Gulabo Sitabo live on the fringes of the society; they lie for a few pennies and scrounge and save all their lives. Like the house they inhabit, their lives need a desperate lick of paint. It makes them sly, but they are no match for the wolves out there. Greed, alas, cannot be graded, as the film’s whimsical climax shows us, but some will always profit more than the others. Capturing this imperfect and unequal world in his lens is cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay. Sircar’s frequent collaborator, his camera romances the haveli as much as Mirza, showing us truths that even the characters are not ready to see. Composer Shantanu Moitra’s songs fit in with the narrative, but it is his background music that we will remember, just like October. Some may have a complaint about the languid pace of the film, but it worked for me. It lets us move into the haveli and meet its quirky characters – some of whom don’t even have dialogues but give the film its lived-in feel. Complete review here.

Amitabh Bachchan gives a master class in acting, Ayushmann holds his own (WION)

When the film begins it appears to be a story about an uncanny pair- who cannot stand the sight of each other and are at loggerheads at all times. But an hour into the film, you realise it is much more than just about these two individuals. It’s a story of greed, of the futility to materialistic needs, of upmanship and of a haveli that everyone wants a piece of. While Mirza calls in a lawyer Christopher Clarke(Bijendra Kala) to get rid of his tenants, Bankey befriends a govt official Shukla (Vijay Raaz) who introduces himself as ‘archeology’ to trade the haveli for a LIG flat. With multiple players eyeing the peeling, worn off haveli- things naturally get chaotic and unintentionally funny. Writer Juhi Chaturvedi is known for her nuanced screenplay. She and Sircar have given us films like ‘Piku’, ‘Vicky Donor’ and ‘October’ in the past. In ‘Gulabo Sitabo’, she keeps the humour sly and never in your face. A lot of the funny moments are situational and come in one-liners in the local dialect. You get a sense of how sweetly the insults are thrown at people in typically Lucknawi andaaz as Mirza and Bankey argue like a married couple with empty threats and hilarious insults, like when Mirza out of disgust calls Bankey ‘Dimak kahi ke! (You are a termite’). Complete review here.

Amitabh and Ayushmann go to war in this love letter to Lucknow (Huffington Post India)

Gulabo Sitabo, as the title suggests, might largely revolve around the two main characters but it’s the women who’re the film’s actual brains. Whether it is Begum who makes her disdain for Mirza clear, or Guddo, Baanke’s sister who spares no opportunity to call out his lack of tact or Fauzia, who Baanke goes out with, the women in the film are determined and assertive, pointing out male inadequacies without a shred of trepidation or self-pity. Avik Mukhopadhyay illuminates Lucknow in dark, understated hues, giving the city an otherworldly quality in the night while the indoors of the mansion feel appropriately claustrophobic: dimly lit and mysterious, as if a coup is underway (which it often is). In the day, the city has a washed off quality, exuding the kind of freshness a place does after absorbing torrents of rain. A lot of the film’s visual language also comes alive thanks, in no small part, to the meticulously detailed work of the film’s production designer Mansi Dhruv Mehta and art director Pradip Jadhav. Complete reviews here.

A little restless but ultimately riveting (Mid-Day)

This isn’t a two-men showreel, Farrukh Jafar as Begum (Mirza’s wife) and Srishti Shrivastava as Guddo (Baankey’s sister) enjoy their moment of glory and are a step ahead of the two men, and both of them have reasons to develop a strong sense of dislike for them. Watch out for the scene where Mirza asks the doctor about Begum’s ailing health. Bachchan is a fantastic comic, but we haven’t seen him in such a space for years. He gets some marvellous lines to chew on and he delivers them with the kind of deadpan demeanour that you’re immediately amused. Also amusing and charming is his relationship with his wife. He’s 78, she’s 95, she doesn’t remember how they got married, he wants to get rid of her. It would be great to see their back story and how the twain met. In a scene, she brings cotton candy for him and he stands in silence as if shocked and surprised to see how she still loves him despite her copious bickering and blabbering. Complete review here.

Amitabh-Ayushmann’s greedy war is dark with a tragic twist (DNA)

What can we say about two powerhouses of talents – Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana? Big B is indeed the best we have and there’s no compromise on that. His prosthetic face with Merlin’s beard (not the expression) as a no-nonsense, wife-fearing Mirza is adorable to watch. You empathise with him towards the end with his gestures and aloofness. Farrukh Jafar who plays Fatima Begum is also one actor to look forward to watching in the film. She is bedridden but knows everything and controls it too with a snap of her finger. Ayushmann as a simpleton Bankey gets no sympathy, to be honest! The way he performed made me love to not hate but dislike his character slightly. But that’s the Ayushmannism he brings in his movies which makes him amongst the best of the current lot. Overall it took me time to analyse and like the film and I am happy my first impression was not the last one. Complete review here.

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