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Laapataa Ladies Review: Kiran Rao sparks a resounding conversation amid a forest of untamed animals set loose

Laapataa Ladies doesn't want to be the high priest but is looking for allies in a world that wants to be quick in taking sides. 

Laapataa Ladies Review: Kiran Rao sparks a resounding conversation amid a forest of untamed animals set loose
Laapataa Ladies Review

Last Updated: 09.16 PM, Feb 27, 2024


The year is 2001, and while the mainland of the country is moving towards modernization, the heartland of India still pulls chains to stop trains near remote villages so the villagers can get on board. A groom (Sparsh Shrivastava) with his bride (Phool played by Nitanshi Goel) get on and meet two more couples who are just married. An uncalled-for nap, and a misunderstanding later, we realize our groom has brought home someone else’s bride (Pushpa Rani played by Pratibha Ranta) because they have their ghungat (veil) on. What happens next is a Kiran Rao directorial.


Laapataa Ladies Review:

That there is a movie releasing in the month where we celebrate women, talks about them in a way like it wants to have a conversation and not pester a wall with thoughts that stink is so good. No one’s walking around with a gender flag; no one’s even remotely interested in demeaning the other gender, and there is no plan to defend the movie like someone’s life depends on it feels like we are back to cinema with a cause, and entertainment both. Backed by Aamir Khan, Laapataa Ladies directed by Kiran Rao is not a movie that wants to be the high priest, but is a movie that is looking for allies in a world that wants to be quick in taking sides.

Screenplay and dialogues written by Sneha Desai, adapting from the original story by Biplab Goswami, with Divyanidhi Sharma on Additional Dialogue, Laapataa Ladies on the surface level seems a funny story about a village that has fallen behind in the race towards not just materialistic progress but even ideological progress. But the writing never looks at the ones still wanting to have their brides, daughters-in-law, and women in general in a veil because they don’t know anything better. For that matter, nor is it looking at misogynistic men as villains, because even they don’t know education as a tool yet.

Then what is the point of this film? Well, education. Kiran Rao as a filmmaker is someone who has always understood why a concoction of hard facts needs to be diluted in a mixer that suits the audience seated around the table. She wants you to understand that education is the key to unlocking not just wisdom but a better life, and Laapataa Ladies is that step in the right direction. There is an ease in how she approaches the topic. She tries and travels through genres where at one point you look at Pushpa as a spy, or an agent, or some terrorist maybe. But that is so good because when the final curtain is raised, you as an audience realize how quick you were to judge her even when you are way ahead in the walk to the modern world than Pushpa's world ever be.

The power of immersive cinema here is at its peak because you know these people; you have seen them around. Their socioeconomic status does not define their behavior; even the elite in our world behave similarly many times. Kiran and her team look at the politics of this land so closely when Pushpa says, “Chattisgarh me sarkar ke sath naam badal diya jata hain,” and why that landscape was so devoid of basic common knowledge. Talking of the plot in detail will only kill your experience and we are not doing that here. But what blooms in Laapataa Ladies is two women turning into each other’s allies unknowingly. One gets a golden pass to life; the other learns the best way to live it.

Kiran Rao needs to try her hand at direction on a regular basis because her vision is welcoming and very immersive. You are a part of her frames and stories because those are stories of people around you. There is a hint of Ashutosh Gowarikar in her work, whom she has assisted in Swades and Lagaan; there’s also a Mira Nair touch in the way she looks at women with a very interesting gaze. You can see that in the way she portrays Chhaya Kadam’s character, a tea seller who has lost hope in the world, and that has kept her away from even eating anything sweet, forget thinking positively. You are never shown her hardship, but whatever is shown is enough to tell you what she must have gone through. A stellar actor and an equally giving part.

Sparsh Shrivastava has to be one of the best discoveries of the OTT world. Known for Jamtara, the actor brings so much to his character. He is a good man but also quite manipulative; he also has a grey to him where he thinks the wrong way, but the goodness in him wins. There is so much earnestness in the way he approaches this part. Nitanshi Goel as Phool gives a very moving performance where she is expected to be a clean slate and let the world where she is lost into color it. The actor makes the part shine. Pratibha Ranta as Pushpa Rani is the most confident performer of this film and her character plays a very pivotal part. Can’t reveal more.

Geeta Agrawal Sharma is having a moment right now playing varied mothers and she even manages to bring out something different in all of them. Fighter, All India Rank, and Laapataa Ladies are in the theaters and all of them feature her as mother to the leading parts. The actor deserves to be celebrated.

Not that Laapataa Ladies is completely flawless. Yes, the romantic flashback between the leads feels rushed and abruptly placed in the movie. The way everything is brought to one place and connected to Pushpa feels hurried, and a longer screen time given to the third act could have done wonders. But all of this does not go against the film because there are too many pros as opposed to cons.

Ram Sampath's music is soothing and well-conceptualized. DOP Vikas Nowlakha’s frames work well to give this film a very interesting setup and also feel like you are watching a breezy slice-of-life movie. What also works is the juxtaposition of the release. The movie hits theaters right when we are having a conversation about misogyny and its portrayal on the big screen. The ‘Animals’ think roaring and demeaning the other gender and people going against their idea is the only way. Here is a movie that also looks at gender but with a respectful gaze giving both the benefit of the doubt. It takes a woman to educate a family; maybe it is turning out to be true with cinema too.

Laapataa Ladies: Final Verdict:

Kiran Rao has made a film that wants to talk to you and not bombard you with its idea of being a human. Surrender and let the jokes make you laugh, the conversation resonates, and the final smile of victory comforts you and makes you a better person.

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