When Gajar ka halwa goes sour…
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Sharmila Tagore, John Abraham, Anousha
Director: Mahesh Manjrekar
Storyline: An aging couple has to fight the system after their son witnesses a murder.
Bottomline: Offbeat tear-jerker
We’ve seen him as the eccentric teacher in Black, then as the angry old cop in Bunty aur Babli and the frail and all powerful Sarkar this season.
Now watch him play an aging old man forced out his retirement in one of the most realistic, subtle and refined peformances from the veteran.
This is the season of the Bachchans. But wait, hasn’t Bollywood always had a season earmarked for its biggest star ever, since the seventies?
‘Viruddh’ is also one of Mahesh Manjrekar’s most sensitive work, since ‘Astitva.’
Here, he sets up a beautiful world of a totally adorable aging couple,Vidyadhar (Bachchan) and Sumitra (Sharmila Tagore) with their feel-good banter and aging frailities.
The couple is on a high when their son Amar returns home from London for his birthday with his British girlfriend, who inspite of talking with an American twang, is received with great love and affection from the picture perfect family.
And the more sugary and perfect it gets, the bigger the smile it puts on your face and the more it has you saying ‘No, I don’t want to see this shatter.’
And then, Boom! What you feared most, happens. The peaceful world comes crashing down when his doting son Amar (JohnAbraham) witnesses a murder.Without resorting to any major theatrics or melodrama associated with such scenes, Bachchan transforms from the angry, weak, timid old man to the heart-broken yet strong, stoic old man. He brings a tear in at least a scene or two as the film progresses sensitively and sensibly, at least till its euphoric end.
Sharmila Tagore as the woman of the house is a delight to watch, and the warm chemistry she shares with Bachchan makes you completely adore the couple.
Viruddh has a lot of soul but its screenplay is weak towards the later half of the film.
Manjrekar deserves credit for creating realistic family situations within Bollywood’s age-old Gajar-Ka-Halwa goodness. Screenplay writer Yash Vinay chooses a convenient end. There is a simple yet effective climax sequence but the courtroom drama that follows takes the film away from its realistic mould and into the fantasy genre.
But hey, it’s a Bollywood film after all, even if it had the guts to do away with the songs and tone down the melodrama.
P.S: There’s also Sanjay Dutt playing a glorified extra … okie, we’ll call that a cameo! He plays the… what else … Bhai next door!