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Gulabo Sitabo a movie on greed, bureaucracy and ageing. It has many elements to it but what shines the most is its sassy women characters.
Shoojit Sircar’s movie Gulabo Sitabo released on 12th June on Amazon Prime. This satirical comedy stars legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan and heartthrob Ayushmann Khurana.
It is a bittersweet study of greed and its consequences. Written by Juhi Chaturvedi, Gulabo Sitabo is set in the elegance of Lucknow and deals with the essence of human behaviour.
The term ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ comes from traditional puppet art, where two characters quarrel incessantly. Just like Gulabo Sitabo, in the movie, Mirza and Baankey are in a quarrel all the time.
Mirza is a greedy man played effortlessly by Amitabh Bachchan. The man who is known for being tall and strong, embodies Mirza’s weak, old, greedy and selfish ways. Ayushmann Khurrana as Baankey is in his comfort zone as a UP boy.
The centre of the movie is this big mansion Fathima Mehal. Mirza is hell-bent in getting the mansion in his name and getting rid of his tenants, especially Baankey. Meanwhile, Bankey lives in Fatima Mehal on a pity rent of thirty rupees does not want to leave it and neither does he to pay more rent.
This quarrel between Baankey and Mirza leads to Mirza stealing Baankey’s bulbs, and making his sister throw out pieces of mango that he bought. Baankey, on the other hand kicks the washroom wall, which crumbles with a kick, among a lot of other such moments.
And lines like ‘Jyada hilo nahi heart attack, aa jaega’ (don’t move too much, you’d have a stroke) and ‘inki shakal property wali hai kya?’ (does he look like he should own property?) form the comedy scenes in the movie.
Though the movie is a little slow-paced, scenes where the archeological department wanting to have the mansion or a builder wanting to build a multi-storey building, show you the elements of human nature. The scenes and the movie are both ridiculous and melancholic.
With amazing cinematography that captures Lucknow’s beauty to the use of the local language, certain things stand out in the movie. But the one thing I liked the most were the sassy women! While the men in Gulabo Sitabo are greedy and selfish, the women are sassy and very very smart!
My favourite character of Gulabo Sitabo hands down is Fattoo Begum. The owner of the mansion and Mirza’s wife Fattoo Begum is a character who steals the show.
Fattoo Begum is 95 years old and played by Farrukh Jafar who is around 90-years-old. And it is a delight to watch a person that old playing such a poignant role in a movie. Not just a role that is sympathetic but one that is full of sass.
Each time she is on screen, Fattoo Begum is a delight to watch! She is the boss lady of the house. On one hand, she asks her husband ‘paise le lijiye aur phir kuch dino tak apni shakal mat dikhayega’ (take the money and don’t show me your face for the next few days!) But on the other, she also gets him candy floss!
Fattoo Begum has the right to love, to manage finances, to roam around in the night and most importantly to live her life on her own terms. With her sass and intelligence, Fattoo Begum is a tight slap to the binds put on women to ‘act’ a certain age.
Baankey’s sister Guddo played by Srishti Srivastav is a character that questions society’s idea of women in conservative environments. From the very beginning, Guddo sets a mark. She gives Baankey a reality check that she doesn’t want to get married and will respectfully earn for herself. Guddo is a very smart woman.
One important thing to note is that Baankey’s family lives on the margins of middle class and he is the ‘man’ of the family and the sole breadwinner. So, in a family like that, a character like Guddo is commendable. She is someone who doesn’t want to get married, is smart as anything and has sex on the terrace of the house.
Overall, Guddo is smarter than Baankey and knows how to manage the house and get things done. And that is what makes her stand out in the movie!
One thing is for sure – every woman in Baankey’s life is sassier and smarter than him. Fauzia played by Poornima Sharma is Baankey’s girlfriend and she knows how to get her things done. She loves Baankey but won’t take any nonsense from him.
In one scene, Baankey aggressively says, after a fight, that he’ll drop her to bus stop, not her house and asks her to not lean on him on the bike. She calmly tells him that she will not hold him and that he has to drop her to her house no matter what.
Fauzia also gives Baankey a reality check by telling him, ‘Humein pata nahi tha ki aap itne gareeb hain’ (I didn’t know you were so poor)
She is definitely not the ‘bechaari, pyaar me andhi‘ (pitiful, blinded by love) kind of a girl. In fact, whatever screen time, Fauzia gets, she makes sure she isn’t seen as the poor lovesick girl!
Her name is not mentioned throughout the movie but she a woman who can and will do anything for her family. She has three daughters and one son. In a country where daughters aren’t often even given a chance to study, Baankey’s mom makes sure that all three daughters receive a good education. Even if that comes at the sake of sacrificing her son’s education who is the eldest and needs to take care of the family.
Gulabo Sitabo is a heartwarming movie about human nature. It deals with the concept of ageing about how when something or someone gets old, it is left alone.
Gulabo Sitabo leaves the audience with several emotions. But most importantly, it leaves you with some wonderful women to take inspiration from.
Picture credits: Still from the movie Gulabo Sitabo
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