In the past nine years, Sujit Sircar and Juhi Chaturvedi have collaborated on many films. Most of their stories and movies are about the reflection of culture and communities from an everyday life perspective, and Gulabo Sitabo (2020) is not an exception. The movie title is named after the U.P s old famous art of female puppets called gulabo sitabo who are dissimilar but still related. Gulabo showcase as a fresh and endearing lover while sitabo is a typical weary and overburden wife. Similarly, in this movie the main two characters Mirza (Amitabh Bachan) and Baankey (Ayushman Khurana) are always at quarrels. Mirza is the nominal owner. Baankey, the tenant. They are always at the edge of each other. Baankey threatens Mirza most of the time, and Mirza takes revenge by cutting the electricity and troubling his sister.
The movie set in old Lucknow splendidly takes us to those simple and sweet days. Mirza looks sweet and innocent but should not go by his look; he is greedy who married his wife Begum (highly pleasing Farrukh Jafar) for the mansion Fatima Mahal belonging to her. He once mentions he doesn’t have a kid because he doesn’t want anyone between him and mansion. Surprisingly still doesn’t know if he’ll inherit it after Fathima’s death. On the other hand, Baankey might seem like a victim, but he is not. He has his own shades of cunningness with the intention of how he and his family can stay in the mansion forever.
The story is a tale or tug of war between a landlord and tenant – Mirza and Baankey, fighting over Fatima Mahal. The passion for the Mahal goes to such an extent that Mirza waits for his wife’s death so he can inherit the mansion. Meanwhile, the archaeological department, a local politician, and a builder also have their own plans to get their hands on the mansion. Mirza and Baankey’s battle for the mansion is meaningless and strange because none of them genuinely loves the mansion or acknowledges its value and neither feels the same love as the rightful owner Begum Fathima.
The script by Juhi Chaturvedi is filled with bracing and refreshing characters with glowing and practical dialogues. The humor comes from the characters, the way they react and deliver dialogues. It is not your regular madcap comedy; instead, it is more satire. Cinematography by Avik Mukhopadhyay is delightful; he has captured the sights and sounds of beautiful landscapes of old Lucknow and grandeur of a mansion, which adds more beauty to the visual experience. The score of Shantanu Moitra makes moments perfect. Director Sujit sircar has done a great job. There is no doubt about it, which is supported by both lead actors Mr amithab Bachan (Mirza) and ayushmann Khurana (Baankey), with a talented supporting cast such as Vijay razz, Brijendra Kala, Farrukh Jafar, and Srishti Srivastava.
The beauty of the movie is on its wonderful, fantastic use of language- the Hindi-Urdu-Awadhi used by people of Lucknow in their talks and arguments are really a delight. In every single frame of the film and in every dialect, we will feel the aura of the Lucknow that we miss now nostalgically. Gulabo Sitabo is part of a mixed bag, but the film moves on its eccentric principal premise, humorous little characteristic and entertaining diversions. Greed is its central theme and tells an appealing tale through two headstrong characters. The message is simple and clear: that desires are okay and acceptable, but there is a fragile line between desire and Greed. Greed will result in disappointments and loss of desire, love and eventually mansion.
Gulabo Sitabo has its strong moments. The characters have a real depth which one can understand. The movie is a slow burn where viewers have to give some time to mingle something we have seen in the film October. This movie is simple but not for everyone, you may connect to it very well or you may feel it as more dramatic. But at the same time, one should watch it for great performances and a simple compelling story.
The movie is a exquisite satire on mansion and people of old Lucknow whom may fit in any part of a place or life.