102 Not Out

Making us realize that we don’t have the answers to most things in life

Syeda Afshana
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jul 21 2018 10:03PM | Updated Date: Jul 21 2018 10:03PM
102 Not OutFile Photo

We all play our innings. Some play it well, and get off the pitch. They garner not only grit but also grace. Others just muscle through before returning to pavilion; distraught and downcast. Not everyone finishes the game to end, and not all necessarily retire flustered and frazzled. That’s Life. And  unfixed degrees of its passages, from childhood to old-age.

102 Not Out is a movie that backs up this reality. A filmed drama, out of a Gujarati play, portrays units of time as the dictating analogy in our lives.  Making us realize that we don’t have the answers to most things in life. But it’s at the moments of failings when we shine a spotlight on our uncertainty about life. Amitabh Bachchan, playing a 102-year-old-father Dattatraya Vakharia is full of verve, and brings it forth through his just right acting.  His age doesn’t make him feel miserable. He is alive and kicking, bracing up his oldness with both mirth and matter-of-factness. His son, a 75-year-old Babu Lal, played by Rishi Kapoor, is a grumpy and gloomy man trapped in his past.

102 Not Out is a geriatric comedy, trying to build a narrative around the lives of three generations—father, son and grandson. There is a strong co-relation of bonds and the surrounding pain that prevails amidst their connected lives. The issues of old age, abandoned parents, and an uncaring offspring weaves a story of compassion, coldness and an authentic sense of pride (not hubris) which pushes Dattatraya and Babu to behave in a way that establishes self-respect and self-reliance. 

Interspersed with bouts of hilarity, 102 Not Out is a serious visual package that has multiple life-lessons to recount. It teaches how to reflect on what we are grateful to have been given—the fleeting moments of Life and its pristine promises. It subtly explains the need for nudging the mind to be more patient and more selfless, as ailing Dattatraya helps his son Babu to fight against his own mind. He makes him comprehend the willingness to sacrifice ‘attachment’ in the moment so that, in exchange, he reaps the benefit of sincere and strong relations down the line. 

Augmenting its theme, the movie also carries a signature of nostalgia with comeback of some old bollywood numbers….Waqt Nay Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam…in Amitabh’s poignant voice. The old gramophone recorder and new Saregama Carvaan radio device finely interplay the spectacle of old and new cultures we breathe in. The description of unforgettable memory of Babu’s wife even in a forgetful state of Alzheimer’s disease she was suffering from, is tear-jerking.

The most compelling scene of the movie is about the letters from US-settled grandson Amol who had always ended his correspondence with a derisive remark—“I hope you understand”. His every letter is filled with excuses, selfish needs and wants, usually expressing his inability to visit parents back home. Dattatraya reads these letters loudly to make Babu recognize the triviality of a bond he was holding on quite unreasonably. Before Babu’s annoyance could sour into something worse, Dattatraya succeeds in making him value the pragmatism of present than the imaginings of future that take a considerable toll of physical and emotional health.

Bottomline: A 101-minute film may be a comic caper but it puts forth the evolution of social aspects related to aging, and in fact provides viewers with an excruciating tool to draw on—Let go those who don’t care for you!  It illustrates the perception of the situations old people find themselves in and how crucial it is for their own understanding of aging, and thus to their self-esteem and other aspects of their psychological well-being. It repudiates any sense of isolation, deprivation, or irrelevance that oldies need to defy with poise and patience. That’s why 102 Not Out places a man Friday Dhiru in Dattatraya and Babu’s life as an ironical replica of Amol, exemplifying that blood is not always thicker than water, and if our own Amols are not around, unrelated Dhirus’ can be close by. No one can be indispensable, the aged father-son duo work on it.

The pithy recurring dialogue “Get Out” in the movie is a postmodern reply by aging parents for their emerging issues of social security. This is more vital, especially against the grim backdrop of growing ageism in modern and capitalist economies, wherein individuals are everything to everybody else except for being the children to their parents.



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