Shiv Shastri Balboa is a heartwarming film about two people, Shiv Shankar Shastri and Elsa Zachariah, who embark on a journey of self-discovery and rediscovery of life. The film is directed and written by Ajayan Venugopalan and stars Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta as the lead characters. The film begins with Shiv Shastri moving to the USA to live with his son and his family, but he soon crosses paths with Elsa and promises to reunite her with her family in India. The film follows their journey through the American heartland and the challenges they face along the way, including a detour that lands Elsa in jail. Shiv Shastri must use all of his resources to set her free and fulfill his own dream.
The film strikes just the right balance between comedy and serious themes, evoking a variety of emotions in the audience. Anupam Kher plays the die-hard fan of the 1976 film Rocky and his performance is both inspiring and relatable. The film is 132 minutes long, but despite some slow moments, the story moves forward and holds the audience’s attention. The writing is simple but effective, delivering great life lessons in a non-preachy manner. Neena Gupta as a house help in an Indo-American family is a brave character to play, but her accent is a bit over-the-top and distracting. Sharib Hashmi as the funny man is a clever casting choice and his comic timing is on-point. Jugal Hansraj is charming and has a great screen presence, and the two boys who play his sons are endearing and move the audience.
In conclusion, Shiv Shastri Balboa is a sweet, innocent, and endearing story about love, life, and learnings. The film has its heart in the right place, and the performances of Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta are relatable and inspiring. The film is a must-watch for anyone who wants to rediscover life and feel alive again.