BY ANUJ RADIA 

Umesh Shukla’s forthcoming film, 102 Not Out is an ageless comedy that brings together Indian Cinema’s two biggest stalwarts – Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor after 27 years, with the two legends playing father-son duo for the first time.

The movie narrates the story of 102 years young Dattatraya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) lives life to the fullest and wants to break the record of oldest living man- that’s held by a 118 years old Chinese. Dattatraya wants to live a stress-free life in order to become the oldest living man.

However, there is only one hindrance – his 75-year-old son Babulal (Rishi Kapoor) who has resigned himself to a life of old age stuck in drudgery. Dattatraya now must find means and ways to change Babulal’s sad and grumpy demeanour so that he doesn’t become a deterrent in breaking the record.

Little do they realise that this roller coaster ride filled with comedy, emotion and commotion, will change them and their relationship forever.

In an interview with Asian Style, Umesh Shukla opens up on his journey of creating this slice-of-life film!

Umesh, What was it like to direct two big legends Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor together on one screen in 102 Not Out?

Because the script demanded the two actors to perform. My script was as such that we had to have actors with such calibre [like Mr Bachchan and Mr Kapoor] in the film.

I contacted Amitabh Bachchan first and his son Abhishek helped me out with the appointment. I went with the idea of narrating him the full 2.5 hours narration of the script, but within ten minutes, he said, “I’m doing this movie, it has an excellent premise.”

Mr Bachchan is a senior actor and he’s like a father to me, so I asked him whether Chintu Ji [Rishi Kapoor] should play the 75-year-old son character?

In response to this, he immediately jumped and said “Great idea. We have played brothers and friends, we have never played father and son. If this subject excites him, then please go ahead.”

I met Rishi Kapoor and started narrating the script with my co-writer Saumya Joshi again on the 10th minute and said the same thing as Mr Bachchan.

Now, it’s releasing on 4th May!

The film is an adaptation of the Gujarati play of the same name. What are some of the key differences between the stage and screen versions?

Oh, there are very much different. The subject is the same, but treatment is completely different.

When you’re doing a stage play, you’ll have to finish it 7/8 scenes.

When you’re making a film, you have to create 40-50 scenes, both the mediums are different and equally challenging.

As Mr Bachchan & Mr Kapoor reunite after a 27-year long hiatus, there must have been very fond memories from the set of 102 Not Out. Could you kindly share a few of those yaadgaar pals?

So, this is the first time that Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor are playing Gujarati characters.

They must have done over 200 films, but they never played Gujarati characters.

I’m sure all the Gujaratis abroad will be happy to know that they are playing Gujarati roles [laughs]. They also speak a few lines of the language.

The fun was, where there was a huge set of a house and on the first day of the shoot I told them that Gujaratis don’t wear chapals [slippers] or shoes in the house – and we were going to shoot there for 30 days.

Initially, I thought they would refuse to take off their footwear. But instead, they immediately removed it and they shot barefoot.

They realised that without Chappals [slippers], the walk is very different.

I really feel that both Mr Bachchan and Mr Kapoor are not just superstars but are so sensible and passionate about their work. They never imposed anything on me.

In addition to films, you have directed Gujarati plays before. Since films like ‘Wrongside Raju’ and ‘Gujju Bhai Most Wanted’ have been well-received globally. How do you feel Gujarati cinema is reviving?

It is going very well. There are two films like ‘Chal Man Jeetva Jaiye’ and ‘Reva’, both are doing extremely well in all the circuits in India.

I don’t know about the overseas market, but these two films are rocking. ‘Gujjubhai Most Wanted’ did very well.

Now, good content has started to come out. I’m really hopeful that we do very good stuff and we make Gujaratis really proud!

Finally, what would you like the audience to take away from 102 Not Out and why?

I want people to understand that life is just a celebration and age is just a number.

Life is a celebration and we must celebrate it. Even though the actors are old, the film is very young. I’m sure even the youngsters will enjoy it too.

Umesh Shukla’s films have always appealed to an audience of all ages. Be it Oh My God or All is Well, Shukla’s movies convey that simplicity is the best policy.

102 Not Out also seems to be a family-friendly venture that can be enjoyed by the masses. Furthermore, it would be wonderful to see Bollywood’s two legends – Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor – reunite after a lengthy hiatus. 

The film releases in cinemas worldwide on 4th May.

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