“AB Aani CD is quaint but alas insipid” A Subhash K Jha Review

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AB Aani CD (Marathi, Amazon Prime Video)
Starring Vikram Gokhale, Subodh Bhave, Amitabh Bachchan
Directed by Milind Lele

Amitabh Bachchan as a concept rather than a living reality is nothing new. In the Kannada film Amritdhare Mr Bachchan was cast as a dying woman’s last wish. Nearer home, there is a brilliant short film called Yours Truly, Amitabh in which a retired man (the wonder Kumud Mishra) gets his neglectful family’s attention by claiming he once corresponded with the iconic mega-star.

This kind of metaphorical iconization is unique to Mr Bachchan . His stardom defines acting just as Lata Mangshkar’s vocals define singing. ‘Who do you think you are, Amitabh Bachchan?’ is a classic putdown for someone acting too big for his boots.

In this quaint but alas insipid and eventually uninspired Marathi film , the Big B is ubiquitous in the way, say, in another context Rebecca was in the Daphne du Maurier novel. The actual hero of AB Aani CD, the Joan Fontaine of this Marathi Rebecca, so to speak , is Vikram Gokhale. He plays an unhappy retired gent (have you seen any protagonist being happy after retirement?) whose extended family begins to treat him with the mild contempt that we have seen Mr Bachchan and before him Rajesh Khanna go through in Baghban.

There is nothing new about Vikram Gokhale’s projection of hurt humiliation and muffled anger as he fights against his own swelling dismay at a family that seems to respect only his “connections” with the mega-star.

The family, I am sorry to say, is a bunch of broad-stroked caricatures… you know, the bitchy bahu who wants to rid the house of the patriarch’s legacy , and the docile men who cannot help being bullied by the women of the family into mistreating the retired patriarch because otherwise they wouldn’t get it in the night. The dinner, I mean.What else did you think?

Ironically while Vikram Gokhale is in almost every frame (sometimes joined in joyous singing by Neena Kulkarni who plays his wife ) it is Mr Bachchan who presides over the plot. Does he actually show up in the film? Ah, the big mystery question best left unanswered. This film does enough of that. It says too much and feels too little.

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