Review: Shiv Shastri Balboa
Producers-Anupam Kher and Kishor Varieth
Star Cast- Anupam Kher, Nina Gupta, Jugal Hansraj, Sharib Hashmi and Nargis Fakhri
Platform of Release- Theaters
The protagonist Shiv Shastri Balboa (Anupam Kher) is an ageing retired banker with a prostate problem who has never set foot inside the boxing ring but still displays bravura in his own way. Shastri considers Sylvester Stallone’s franchise Rocky a philosophy to live by. When he moves to Ohio to live with his son, Dr Rahul Shastri (Jugal Hansraj) and his family, he tries to teach the values to his young grandsons. In what can be rightly considered as a plug for the show, the senior citizen aims to go to Philadelphia to shoot a video on the ‘Rocky Steps’ for an interview on his favorite news anchor Rajat Sharma’s show
Shiv’s adventure begins right when he sets foot in America as the cop picks him up for urinating in the open and levies a heavy fine. Shastri and his neighbor Elsa (Nina Gupta) are forced to seek employment with a wannabe Punjabi singer Cinnamon Singh (Sharib Hashmi), and live in an apartment owned by him in lieu of their services, when Shastri offers to go with Elsa to drop her off at the airport after a thirteen hour bus ride. Shastri also wants to go to Rocky Steps to send a video of his there to Rajat Sharma.
The viewer is bound to stay delighted and be in splits as Shastri becomes friends with the family’s pug, Casper, whom he fondly calls Capsule and has hilarious conversations with through the pooch’s funny thought bubbles. The dialogues are incisive and funny at the same time though the screenplay at times goes South but the film delights every one with its punches
Anupam Kher is in top form after a long time and is able to shoulder the film on his own by getting into the character of Shastri Balboa with effortless ease and is the soul of the film while Nina Gupta is delightful as the vodka stealing Elsa the maid who is trapped by her bosses to do menial work at home at a cheap salary all the while dreaming of escaping the life of drudgery of eight years to provide for her greedy daughter and son-in-law back in India.
As the NRI son, Jugal Hansraj is relatable with his light American accent and demeanor but does not have a great role or more footage, while Sharib Hashmi as the superstore cum gas agency owner compliments them and stands strong alongside the two powerful veteran actors. The minus point of the film is the taking away from the central theme of Shiv Shastri and Elsa on an inadvertent adventure and trying to make the film an adventure saga on its own to lend Anupam an edge.
To sum up, I’d concede that the movie which instantly reminds you of the Anupam Kher in Saaransh, is a heartwarming exercise of its own does succeed to subtly touch upon alienation, racism, culture shock, and what it means for the third generation to grow up amid increasing strife as well as intolerance especially in advanced countries like the USA