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Shiv Shastri Balboa review: Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta starrer has its heart and soul in the right place

The movie Shiv Shastri Balboa, which stars Anupam Kher, Neena Gupta, Jugal Hansraj, Nargis Fakhri, and Sharib Hashmi in the leading role, has finally hit the big screens. 

Shiv Shastri Balboa review: Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta starrer has its heart and soul in the right place
Shiv Shastri Balboa (Source: Instagram)

Last Updated: 10.34 AM, Feb 10, 2023


Shiv Shastri Balboa is a story of an ardent fan of Rocky Balboa who established the local Rocky Boxing Club retires and settles permanently in the US to live with his son's family. There, he suffers with cultural change and alienation, embarks on a madcap excursion to Philadelphia with a housekeeper he befriends, and decides to live rather than just exist.


Shiv Shankar Shastri (Anupam Kher), a devoted fan of the 1976 movie Rocky, in which Sylvester Stallone played boxer Rocky Balboa, is the protagonist of the narrative. Although he is not a boxer, he has trained a number of boxers who have won awards for the nation. Now retired, he relocates to the USA to live with his son Rahul (Jugal Hansraj), his wife, two young sons and a dog named Casper. His paths meet with Elsa Zachariah (Neena Gupta) as he gradually adjusts to the hectic city life overseas, and he makes a promise to reconnect her with her family in India. As luck would have it, the two find up taking an impromptu road trip through the American Midwest, ultimately starting a journey of self-love and self-discovery. Shastri and Elsa also encounter Cinnamon Singh (Sharib Hashmi) and Siya (Nagris Fakhri) along the way, who play important parts in helping them get to their destination. But when Elsa is declared "wanted" by the authorities and is imprisoned, things start to go south. The second part of the movie focuses on Shastri's efforts to free her and realise his own ambition while doing so.

The movie evokes a range of emotions in the audience by striking the perfect balance between serious issues and comedic elements. The film is 132 minutes long, yet despite a few lulls, the plot goes along and keeps audience interested. The style is straightforward but powerful, imparting important life lessons without being preachy. Although it takes courage to play a housekeeper in an Indo-American family, Neena Gupta's accent is a little exaggerated and obtrusive. It was a wise decision to put Sharib Hashmi as the funny man because of his perfect comic timing. Jugal Hansraj is endearing and powerful on screen.

Overall, I think the story's progression could have been much better written, but I believe the film's makers stayed true to a straightforward plot and took few risks.

Ajayan Venugopalan, the film's director and writer, demonstrates that an action movie about a fading star's valiant comeback is not necessary for a boxing movie to be an exciting entertainment. The main character may be an elderly retired banker with a prostate condition who has never entered a boxing ring but nonetheless exhibits bravura in his own manner. This is embodied by Shiv Shastri (Anupam Kher), who adopts the Rocky movie series as his way of life. He tries to impart morals to his young grandsons. However, he is not training the youngsters in the film either. Shiv Shastri is the one who ultimately lives the example from his favourite franchise.


Shiv Shastri Balboa is a sweet story about love and life. The performances by Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta are relatable and motivating, and the movie has its heart in the right place.


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