“Kiran Rao’s Laapataa Ladies is a masterpiece” – A Subhash K Jha Review

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Our Rating

Laapataa Ladies
Directed by Kiran Rao

It is all about how ‘veil’ you know your bride. The ghunghat is a separate character in Kiran Rao’s masterpiece, a sparkling gem of a film where the minor flaws – for instance, some initial gags on rusticity that seem too touristic—only enhance the feeling of a flawed gem , that rare kind of creation that shines with a genuine spark.

Nothing seems overdone or filmy in Laapataa Ladies, not even Ravi Kishan’s priceless paan-chewing police officer who talks through his stuffed mouth with just that bit of intelligibility that doesn’t make him annoying.

This is Kishan’s best in years. But then, let’s not forget: he is in an extraordinary film about very ordinary people placed in most extraordinary circumstances.

Just think: Phool (Nitanshi Goel) and Jaya (Pratibha Ranta) are two brides in identical wedding sarees and in identical ghunghats in the same compartment of a crowded train. They get swapped and end up in each other’s place.

This is not as facile and glib as it sounds. Kiran Rao, who proved her mettle as a reined-in racounteur of heightened emotions in Dhobi Ghat, goes many steps further in Laapataa Ladies. This is a world brimming with exacerbated emotions. But it works swimmingly for the characters who are not only rustic but also painfully stereotypical in their behaviour.

The screenplay has loads of fun and frolic with filmi coincidences, as the screenplay’s tongue seldom gets out of its cheek. This is where the narrative’s fluid mobility kick in. Kiran Rao keeps the pace brisk and attentive.

Initially, I had a problem with the aggrandized tone and heightened emotions, not to mention the conspicuously quirky background score.

Just hang in there. These are emotional rustic people, the way we imagine folks in the village are, crying and laughing loudly. Like the film, the characters grow on you. By the time the naïve and brave Phool finds her way back to her good-hearted husband Deepak (Sparsh Shrivastava), I was rooting for the couple, as if they were port of a hurdle race in the Olympics of destiny.

A major part of the unconditional authenticity that Kiran Rao brings into play, comes from the performances. The young fresh cast especially Sparsh Shrivastava, Nitanshi Goel, Satendra Soni (as Chotu, the hawker on the railway station who becomes the lost bride’s unofficial young guardian) is astoundingly wise.

The veteran cast especially Chhaya Kadam as the hardnosed woman of the world who sells samosas and wisdom on the railway platform and Ravi Kissan are impeccable.

After the initial hiccups when the crowded milieu of a rural train is too bookish, the storytelling seldom falters. I didn’t warm up to the other bride Jaya’s story as much as Phool’s story. But I am sure there are many who would easily swap the two women’s tales and be equally happy.

There are many ways to look at Kiran Rao’s Laapataa Ladies. No matter how we look at it, its inherent wisdom and warmth are unimpeachable.

Our Rating

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