Three years following the release of ‘Jagga Jasoos,’ Anurag Basu returns to familiar terrain with a multi-narrative screwball comedy that is delightful in parts.
Whilst Bollywood is busy remaking movies from the past or pushing the same old guy meets girl- falls in love -goes against the world to be with her- eventually gets married story, Anurag Basu presents us with a NETFLIX original multi-narrative comedy-drama. As multi-narrative movies go, Ludo stands out in the simplicity of its plot. It narrates four different stories which are intertwined in a complex yet easy to follow manner, with Pankaj Tripathi’s central character Sattu Bhaiya binding it together. The movie is exceptionally well structured as at every intersection of the stories the scene serves as a predecessor to the next one. The point at which the four stories converge makes sense and adds to the meaning of the plot going forward, to say the least.
Anurag Basu’s ingenuity is hard to miss as the analogy of the game ludo is quite clever. Used to narrate the four color-coded storylines, with the central character acting as the die, the analogy here is a reference to the life of different characters of the movie. The die is cast when Pankaj Tripathi’s Sattu Bhaiya murders a builder in one of the most comedic murder scenes in recent movies. With this, the movie starts, and slowly the plot unfolds. As with many Bollywood movies, at the centre of the plot is a toxic love story. Rajkumar Roy plays Alok Kumar who is a Mithun Chakraborty inspired quintessential Bollywood hero, in unrequited love with his high school sweetheart Pinky (Fatima Sana Shaikh), who is now a wife and a mother. He goes to great lengths to help her get her husband out of trouble. (Hey, At least it’s not Kabir Singh!) Then there is the yellow square in the form of Akash (Aditya Roy Kapur) and his once-girlfriend Shruti (Sanya Malhotra) who deal with their relationship when they come across a video of them having sex, on an adult website. The red square is held by Bittu (Abhishek Bacchan) who is just out of prison. The red is indicative of his sins. He struggles to come to terms with the aftermath of his crimes as he gets a shot at redemption when he finds his estranged daughter in Mini (Inayat Verma). For the blue square, we have Rahul (Rohit Suresh Saraf) and Sheeja (Pearle Maaney) and their underdeveloped love story. The concoction makes for a 2 and a half-hour long hilarious drama that has moments that stand out and some that seem pointless and unconvincing. For the most part the movie is an entertaining watch but it drags for some part too. Moreover, a monologue by Sanya Malhotra’s Shruti tries to force a message which seems a little out of place for a comedy drama.
The ensemble delivers as expected. Pankaj Tripathi is amazing in his portrayal of the funny badass criminal. Rajkumar Rao proves why he is one of the best in the industry with his quirky nervous dance moves, animated expressions, and fluent comic delivery. Abhishek Bachchan is silent for the most part as the script demands and this gives him less room to make mistakes and he quite surprisingly makes an impact as Bittu in one of the most heartfelt scenes of the movie. Inayat Verma is charming as Mini and it seems fair that she advises Abhishek in one of the scenes on what to do as she was clearly in the grasp of what the script demanded of her. Sanya Malhotra and Aditya Roy Kapoor share some moments in their romance and they are flawless in playing their part. Rohit Saraf and Pearle Maney with minimal dialogue and screen time leave quite an impression too. The movie is outrageously funny and as far as the ones with interlocking storyline goes the narration makes it quite easy to sit back and enjoy. The end ties all the storyline well. It is visually beautiful and Basu uses the colour palette ingeniously. The characters and props are dressed and coloured accordingly to the colour of the squares they represent. It’s such attention to detail along with credible performances and a rib-tickling plot that makes it an easy recommendation for a weekend.
Md. Saemul Haque Noori is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Varda Ahmad
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.