Ludo Movie Review
Layer cakeAnurag Basu had utilised the multiple story format last in Life In A… Metro (2007). The film was a multistarrer which touched upon the various aspects of life in a big city. Here, the focus is on a smaller city somewhere in Jharkhand or Bihar. The director uses the motif of the board game Ludo to tell intersecting stories. In Ludo, the moves made by one player affect the others and such is the case in the present film as well. Anurag has not only written the film, he has acted as a cinematographer and has also handled the production design. Thankfully, wearing multiple hats hasn’t come in his way of telling a story.The first thirty minutes or so are devoted to developing who’s who. Aloo (Rajkummar Rao) was a small-time con man who has given up on his life of crime and runs a small but profitable dhaba because of Pinky (Fatima Sana Shaikh), the love of his life, who incidentally has married another man, wanted him to reform. He still hasn’t gotten over her despite that. Dr Akash Chauhan (Aditya Roy Kapur) is not a medical doctor but someone who has done a PhD from the Arts stream. He’s a voice artist and a ventriloquist by profession. A chance meeting with Ahana Mathur (Sanya Malhotra) leads to both of them being sex buddies. Her only goal in life is to marry a rich guy. Both get into trouble when a sex tape carrying their exploits appears on the internet. Bittu (Abhishek Bachchan), used to be the right-hand man of Sattu Bhaiyya (Pankaj Tripathy), a dreaded gangster. Bittu goes to jail for six years and as a result, his wife leaves him and marries someone else. Bittu misses their young daughter and would do anything to be with her. Rahul Avasthi (Rohit Suresh Saraf) and Shreeja Thomas (Pearle Maaney) are much-harassed employees at a mall and a hospital respectively. Then there is cute as a button Inayat Varma, a young girl who wants her working parents to love her. Pritam’s music can be strictly called functional here as it’s used as a vehicle to push the narrative forward and doesn’t stand out on its own. Basu has also cleverly used the famous Bhagwan dada song O beta ji, kismat ki hawa kabhi naram, kabhi garam from Albela (1951) to set the tone of the film. What Basu has done is to provide us with a bunch of characters with interesting quirks. Rajkummar Rao’s character is modelled on Mithun Chakraborty because the woman he loves idolises Mithun. He uses Mithun’s mannerisms effectively to bring out both happiness and sadness. It’s Rao’s genius that he uses the trademark Mithun moves to maximum effect. And most of it is shot from the back, mind you, and yet you get the message across. Aditya Roy Kapur’s character is shown to be the most sorted out of this madcap lot. But even he’s shown to make mimic animals while having sex as he’s a voice artist. Abhishek Bachchan is given the least dialogue of all. He expresses his angst through his eyes, his face and through his silences. His bond with Inayat reminds one of Balraj Sahni’s bond with the little girl in Kabuliwala (1961). His is perhaps the most poignant story of all. Pankaj Tripathy has become kind of repetitive but still manages to leave an impact as a gangster with a sense of humour. He’s such a screen-stealer that Basu throws in his scenes whenever the pace is found lagging. Sanya Malhotra and Aditya Roy Kapur’s quest to find the hotel where they were filmed having sex provides a road movie angle to the film. They move from location to location, have a merry set of misadventures everywhere. Theirs is the most hilarious track of all. They complement each other to a T and look good as a couple. One can sympathise with their contrasting viewpoints towards life and yet root for them as a couple. Fatima Sana Shaikh is the devoted housewife who turns to an old flame to solve her problems. She knows she’s using him and does it without feeling remorse. Rohit Suresh Saraf and Pearle Maaney’s characters have been written in to provide pure comic relief and do their job. All-in-all, Anurag Basu has once more given us true-to-life characters caught in circumstances not of their own making and trying to do their best under the circumstances. There are no heroes or villains in the film. Just people making do with what life has thrown at them. The situations sometimes may feel implausible but you understand that’s the director exercising poetic licence. Ludo is a dark comedy at one level and a moralistic tale describing the effects of karma on the other. Watch it for some inspired acting by the ensemble cast and some genuine laugh-out-loud moments…
Trailer : Ludo
Sreeparna Sengupta, November 12, 2020, 5:00 PM IST
STORY: Several stories with different characters take shape simultaneously, only to cross paths eventually. At the center of it all is a dreaded criminal, Sattu Bhaiya. REVIEW: Anurag Basu’s ‘Ludo’ which blends in characters, stories and genres starts off with a grisly murder by Sattu Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi). Then, as parallel stories and characters emerge, so do some varying situations.Akash (Aditya Roy Kapoor) and Ahana (Sanya Malhotra) find themselves in a pickle when they discover that a video clip of them having sex has gone viral on the internet. With Ahana’s wedding scheduled in a few days to another man, they try to get to the bottom of this. On the other hand, an ex-convict, Bittu (Abhishek Bachchan) is released from jail after six years only to realise that his wife and little daughter have moved on. At the same time, when a doting wife, Pinky(Sana Fatima Shaikh) finds out that her husband has been accused of a murder, she runs to her childhood sweetheart, Alok aka Alu (Rajkummar Rao) to help bail him out. And elsewhere, a down on luck salesman, Rahul (Rohit Saraf) and a nurse who is repeatedly bullied at work, Sheeja (Pearle Maney) go about their respective days, not knowing that soon their lives will take a dramatic turn. At the onset, ‘Ludo’ seems to strike with an interesting premise. The catchy opening track, a compelling start and a quirky build up manages to set an intriguing tone. Then, as the multiple characters get introduced with the spotlight on each backstory one by one, slowly fitting into pieces of a puzzle – the pace unfortunately begins to ebb. And that would be one of the biggest drawbacks of the film because as it tries to fit in all the stories and characters, the narrative begins to get overstuffed. So before one can wholly invest in a character, the thread is left to move on to another. And that too at a languid pace, with a narrator (Anurag Basu) making an appearance to stitch it all together and ponder on morality and the tussle between what constitutes sins and virtues. The cinematic treatment, however, has some trademark Basu signatures – the hues of blues and reds, the play of light and shadow setting the visual tone (cinematography – Anurag Basu). There is a dollop of dark comedy, a helping of sweet romance and some varied characters inadvertently thrown in the middle of it all. The background score and soundtrack (Pritam), undoubtedly perk up the proceedings. The ensemble cast deliver some credible performances – Pankaj Tripathi is reliably good and it’s obvious he enjoyed playing the badass criminal to the hilt. Rajkummar Rao’s Mithun fan avatar is a hoot and he brings an endearing touch to it without getting hammy. Abhishek Bachchan makes an impact as Bittu. Fatima Sana Shaikh as the part docile, part trigger happy Pinky, is a revelation. Sanya Malhotra and Aditya Roy Kapoor hold their own well with some cutesy moments in their romance. Rohit Saraf with minimal dialogues but an interesting track stands out. And Pearle Maney leaves quite an impression. ‘Ludo’ has some moments that sparkle, some that are edgy, quirky and stay with you, but it also has some indulgent ones and some that seem pointless and unconvincing. The screenplay (Anurag Basu) gets scattered and meanders mid-way but if one can ride over those bumps (with a runtime of two and a half hours that may seem like a tad much), the climax ties everything up rather neatly, with some quintessential badass quotient and surprises thrown in. Watch this one for the noteworthy performances and its interesting mix of morally ambiguous characters. Ultimately ‘Ludo’ tries to make a larger point about not judging anyone for the choices they make.