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High entertainment and emotional quotient, Club 60

During interval the director told me that before he finalized his cast, Farooque Shaikh had coaxed him to watch Parzania. It worked. The director was so bowled over by Sarika’s performance in the film set against the Gujarat riots that he was confident she’d be the apt choice to lead the cast of Club 60 along with Farooque.

Club 60 is what I’d call a sleeper winner, the surprise victor. The film gets it right, right at the casting stage as Farooque and Sarika, playing upmarket doctor couple Tariq and Saira Shaikh, tug at your heartstrings as grieving parents. 29 years after Mahesh Bhatt’s extremely fine film Saraansh, here’s another Hindi film that goes into the same territory but with a completely different story and I’m happy to report that it is just as sensitive and sensible as the 1984 film was.

I’m a little amazed at the timing because Hollywood recently came up with the naughty but likeable Last Vegas featuring a bunch of golden oldies, and just when you were wondering if Hindi cinema could similarly keep you absorbed with a story on senior citizens that has a sense of humour and sensitive substance, along comes Club 60 which does exactly that.

Writer-director Sanjay Tripathy who has stepped into Hindi cinema after a career as documentary-maker, puts together a motley crowd of silver-haired players who come together every morning at Club 60 to heap insult on one another and share some fabulous togetherness.

When the grieving Shaikhs move into the neighbourhood, totally obnoxious and impudent Manubhai Shah barges into their lives and pulls them into the club. Gradually, Dr Tariq Shah who had given up on life, learns to live again as each member of the tennis playing group has emotional baggage of his own and that includes the brash Manubhai as well. But don’t for a moment think this a heavy, sob-fest. Tripathy keeps it alive by mixing fun and fate unerringly appropriately.

Raghubir Yadav playing Manubhai with his loud tee shirts and a tummy hanging out, can put you off at the outset as he is meant to. But just like neuro surgeon Tariq Shaikh finally begins to smile in his company, you too begin to accept Yadav. All the performers including Satish Shah, Tinnu Anand, Sharat Saxena, Vineet Kumar, Himani Shivpuri and Harsh Chaaya pitch in to elicit a grin or a tear from you.

Farooque Shaikh as Tariq makes the transition from depressed wreck to man in control so smoothly that you don’t realize when he started to smile again. In a scene where he unloads his anger on the abominable Manubhai, and what follows, are brilliantly written and performed.

While one parent braves the death of an only child with unknown reserves of strength, the other crumbles. Does that make the stronger parent less caring or unfeeling? When Sarika puts this question to a colleague from the medical fraternity, you find yourself nodding, completely understanding that heavy feeling of doubt and guilt.Later, when the husband and wife themselves confront it and Sarika demands, ‘Kya mujhe sahare ki zaroorat nahin hai? Where do I get it from? From you who has given up on life?’ the audience will quietly reach out for their handkerchiefs. Sarika’s entire performance is as real as her squeaky clean face, totally without makeup.

With Sarika in gorgeous sarees and a light tikka on the forehead, the characters are completely mainstream Indian and don’t stand out shouting their religious identity. In fact there is not even a breathing reference in dress, food or lifestyle to any community or religious or ethnic group nor is there any political or social comment on terror or riots which is how films should be whether your characters are called Shaikh, Mansukhani, Sinha or Shah.

The film is by no means perfect. There are a couple of songs you could fast forward. Every person having the same kind of emotional back story is a bit overdone. One character breaking wind all the time makes Hindi cinema stink. And the sudden need for a neurosurgeon towards the end is predictable writing. But the negatives are negligible, so do join this club for an enriching experience.

For its high entertainment and emotional quotient, Club 60 easily fetches a 4* rating.

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

(courtesy : thefilmstreetjournal.com)

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