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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

'102 Not Out' another Bollywood triumph for Amitabh Bachchan

"102 Not Out" trailer

The ever-dependable Amitabh Bachchan does it again, big-time, in his latest Bollywood film 102 Not Out.

The title refers to his character Dattatraya’s age, and to the fact that he’s not going out without a fight--this fight being to save his 75-year-old son Babu (played by fellow Bolly legend Rishi Kapoor) from the confining rut he’s sunk into since the death of his wife and abandonment by his son.

His son will not defeat my son!” Bachchan bellows in the movie’s turning point, when it becomes clear that the reason for the preceding fun romp through a series of challenging tasks imposed upon Babu by Dattatraya have been designed to rouse him out of his decades-long stupor.

The role is hardly a reach for the immensely awarded superstar--in reality 75--who added to his acting trophy room in 2009 after playing a 13-year-old boy affected by the accelerated aging disease progeria (his father in the movie was played by his real-life son Abhishek Bachchan!) in Paa. And it continues a critically acclaimed and awarded run of films including, besides Paa, Pink (2016), a highly charged courtroom drama in which he played a lawyer who comes out of retirement to defend three young women wrongly accused in a prostitution/attempted murder case, and Piku (2015), a family dramedy centered around an aging father focused on his constant constipation.

Lacking a female role, 102 Not Out, which is based on a popular Gujarati play, is hardly typical Bollywood masala. Outside of a closing dance number (“Badumbaaa,” composed and sung—with Kapoor--by Bachchan), any singing and dancing is performed by the characters, not in outlandish production numbers but as parts of the story. Classic Bollywood songs are heard as well, when played on a phonograph in evoking the past.

Incredibly, Bachchan and Kapoor first worked together 44 years ago, though 102 Not Out is their first teaming since the 1991 superhero fantasy Ajooba. Among their most noteworthy joint appearances is Coolie (1983), in which Bachchan was critically injured and nearly died in a famous accident during the filming.

Bachchan, who had come to fame as the “angry young man” of Hindi cinema for his roles in ‘70s film classics like Zanjeer and Deewar,was hospitalized for months, and was finally able to complete Coolie six months later. In reviewing Piku, The New York Times noted that he’s since become Bollywood’s “cranky old man,” but now, with another great portrayal of an elderly man in 102 Not Out, he again proves to be India’s answer to Clint Eastwood in terms of depth, variety and longevity.



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