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‘Bucket List’ film review: It’s all good, and it’s always feelgood

Tejas Prabha Vijay Deoskar directs Madhuri Dixit in her first Marathi movie as a housewife on a journey towards self-actualisation.

Tejas Prabha Vijay Deoskar’s Marathi-language Bucket List tries to pass off movie star Madhuri Dixit as the average housewife – an idea that rarely sticks but goes some way towards making the antics of her character Madhura Sane acceptable.

Who will look at me anyway, Madhura complains at one point. As if.

Affectionately described by one of her family members as a cow, Madhura is indeed bovine-like in her ability to follow instructions and spread cheer. She has come home after a heart transplant that has given her a second lease of life. But rather than putting up her feet, Madhura continues to serve her extended family, comprising her husband Mohan (Sumeet Raghavan), her daughter and son, her in-laws, and her husband’s grandmother (Shubha Khote). Madhura cooks the same dish in four different ways to please her brood’s specific tastes and is every inch the domestic goddess. Until she decides to find out the identity of her heart donor.

That turns out to be Sai, beloved of her family and friends, and the author of an incomplete bucket list. Some of the items on this list have been ticked off, including wearing a bikini and getting a tattoo, but others remain, such as winning a bike race, whistling loudly, and kissing the boyfriend.

Madhura decides to complete the bucket list in order to pay Sai back. Sai’s parents (Renuka Shahane and Prakash Deshpande) are touched, but Sai’s twin Salil (Sumedh Mudgalkar) accuses Madhura of appropriating his sister’s identity. Where is Sai in your quest to find yourself, asks this token dissident, but he could well be in another movie.

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Bucket List (2018).

The 130-minute movie works best when it stays light and frothy. Madhura’s cluelessness about the way in which the world works is conveniently deployed, and the low level of difficulty posed by Sai’s bucket list are barely inspiring, even though they produce many moments of light comedy. Madhura’s reaction to a line outside a pub is cute: are we outside an ATM, she asks. I thought the currency shortage crisis had been resolved.

Deoskar reserves some of his best gags for Shubha Khote, who is delightful as Panji, the grandmother-in-law who encourages Madhura’s rebellion. Panji proves to be smarter than everybody else in the household: I conduct all my economic transactions online, she declares.

Moments of artificially induced tension, such as the household’s mock horror at Madhura’s determination to spread her wings, are quickly resolved in the interests of keeping the movie firmly on the road to happiness. Unlike Sridevi’s English Vinglish (2012), which similarly mapped its heroine’s journey towards confidence, Bucket List is less coherent in presenting Madhura’s transformation. “Who will take care of the house” and “You are a mother, stay a mother”, reminders that are constantly thrown Madhura’s way, barely carry any weight. It’s all good, and it’s always feelgood.

Madhuri Dixit perfectly communicates the contradiction that is Madhura Sane. Madhura’s devotion to her household and her unfailing domesticity make her a fake feminist heroine, but the casting of the movie star is a welcome distraction from Madhura’s hollow search for her real self. Madhuri Dixit’s ability to seduce the camera hasn’t dimmed with age, and her character has enough touches of glamour (make-up at all times; rarely a costume repeated) to remind us that Bucket List is never meant to be taken seriously. One of the items on Sai’s bucket list is to wear a 32-D sized bra – an item that Dixit, known for her breast-heaving songs in the 1990s, quietly crosses out.

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