INTERVIEW

‘102 Not Out’ director Umesh Shukla: ‘The characters might be old, but it is an ageless comedy’

The film stars Amitabh Bachchan as a centenarian and Rishi Kapoor as his 75-year-old son.

102 Not Out marks the screen reunion of Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor 27 years after Ajooba. The actors play family members, but they are not brothers this time. Rather, Umesh Shukla’s comedy casts Bachchan as an eccentric 102-year-old man and Kapoor as his straitlaced 75-year-old son.

“When you see them both perform on camera, you suddenly see the magic happening,” Shukla told Scroll.in. “One is spontaneous and the other is very method. But the craft that they bring out does not seem like craft because they look so natural. Their subtle performance is magic.”

Produced by Treetop Entertainment and Benchmark Pictures and Sony Pictures, the movie is scheduled for a May 4 release.

Based on Saumya Joshi’s Gujarati play of the same name, the film is about a centenarian who wants to break the world record of being the oldest man alive, which is held by a 118-year-old Chinese man. How does he plan to pull it off? “I will be the first father in the world to send his son to an old age home,” Bachchan roars with laughter in the film’s teaser.

“He [Bachchan’s character] realises that the Chinese man is living a long life because he never let any boring people around him,” Shukla said. “So he decides to put his boring son in an old age home. That is the funny catch.”

The movie has a Gujarati setting, just like the play. “The film is shot all over Mumbai and the characters live in a house in Vile Parle East,” Shukla said.

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102 Not Out (2018).

Shukla had produced Joshi’s play over its six-year run, and he realised that the subject had universal appeal. “102 Not Out is an ageless movie,” said the filmmaker, who has also produced the films OMG Oh My God! (2012) and All Is Well (2015). “The film is about how you can be young at heart. At the age of 25, you can act like an 80-year-old. And at the age of 80 also you can be young.”

The filmmaker had Bachchan in mind when he decided to turn the play into a film. “When I narrated the subject to Bachchan saab, he agreed to be a part of this film,” Shukla said. “We were thinking who would play his son. Chintu ji [Rishi Kapoor] was there in my previous film All Is Well. So I spoke to Chintu ji about the subject and he loved it and agreed to do it in 10 minutes.”

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Amar Akbar Anthony (1977).

The actors have collaborated in many films, including Kabhie Kabhie (1976), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Naseeb (1981) and Coolie (1983). Shukla wanted to make sure that 102 Not Out did not resemble these films in any way. “I have never gone out of my script’s content,” he said. “If I add that content, then the film would look the way it used to in their earlier films. To bring freshness, I was true to my script and they blended themselves very well to the script. Their chemistry is what interested me the most.”

Working with two heavyweights can be pressurising, but Shukla says the production was a breeze. “Both of them are very professional actors and both have very different temperaments,” Shukla said. “But at the same time, both of them are very passionate actors. When they are on set, they know exactly what to do. Whenever I filmed a scene, they were in character. At the same time they never disrespected my work and age. They were very calm and composed. I am really blessed to have such superstars in my film.”

102 Not Out.
102 Not Out.
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