There came a moment in 102 Not Out when I was really waiting for something to happen but nothing does. Though I have to say that the film is all heart and with wonderful performances but with the finesse of Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan, any director can do so much.
The film was originally a play by Saumya Jain (also writer of the film) and when Umesh Shukla adapts the play to screen, he forgets elements of filmmaking. The film too runs as a play, mostly in one room of their lavish house in Vile Parle East. Bachchan plays a 102-year-old man, Dattu, who is very full of life and wants his 75 Babu (Rishi Kapoor) to start enjoying life. Babu is a dull person, afraid of both, life and death. And Dattu wants him to realize that life is something that one needs to be cherished, and so is death.
The idea and story as a whole are very interesting on paper and even in general but where Shukla fails miserably is the storytelling. He just cannot keep track of what is going on himself. There are various flashback moments but we aren’t shown anything. It’s all told to us, that this happened and then this happened and that is why Babu is like this. It is like a cookbook. You tell me what to do, but I want to see a video, but there isn’t one.
Even the characters are half written, so much so that the brilliance of Bachchan and Kapoor isn’t so much visible, especially that of Bachchan. Amitabh Bachchan’s Dattu is a very one-dimensional character, more like a subdued cousin of his Bhaskar for Piku. And in this situation, Rishi Kapoor takes the cake. He is given a lot to do and he does that with all his heart, adding a lot more substance to the film. Though there hardly is any substance otherwise.
All in all, 102 Not Out is a film that deals with the ‘other’ section of the society and could have been a great film if it weren’t treated like a play.