Through his recent movies like Barfi and Jagga Jasoos, Anurag Basu had managed to create a visual style that one can consider as a Desi Wes Anderson style of filmmaking. Jagga Jasoos, even though it was a debacle at the box office, it managed to create a fan following post its theatrical run as it found its audience. For me, Jagga Jasoos was an overdone movie that had immense potential to be a niche fun film. What I liked about Basu’s new movie Ludo that has a pretty deep star cast, was the way he created controlled chaos. Anurag Basu may have followed the same improvising method he followed in Barfi and Jagga in creating Ludo. But from an audience point of view, Ludo felt like a movie that knew where to stop improvisation.
From the trailer itself, it is evident that the idea here is a bit convoluted. We have four stories happening in this movie that are interconnected. You could skip this paragraph if you were thrilled to watch the movie after seeing that funky trailer. Bittu, a goon who got released from jail after 6 years, his ex-boss Sattu Bhaiyya, a ventriloquist named Akshay who hooked up with an engaged girl named Shruti, a housewife named Pinky who seeks help from her ex-lover Alok to free her husband from jail and a Malayali nurse named Sheeja and a young man named Rahul who just found a bag full of black money are the main parts of our puzzle. They all are running to get something or running away from something. What we get to see here is how their paths get crossed in a mad a chaotic series of events.
Imagine a Priyadarshan comedy, but with the visual aesthetic of a movie like Jagga Jasoos; for me, that would be the simplest description of Ludo. It’s a character pool where everyone is grey, and Basu himself appears as Yamraj in the film. He talks about the perception factor in judging the right one and the wrong one. It was almost like the director telling the viewer that you may find characters in a politically incorrect space, but that doesn’t mean the concept is politically incorrect. Anurag Basu has some unique visual ideas, and that just creates a pleasant aura around the movie. The house of Bittu that is too close to the railway track, the way Alok dances to control his tears, etc., were some unique elements in the film that sort of makes it look different from anything we have seen.
Anurag Basu keeps his characters in that flawed and broken humane space. You don’t really see a perfect character. Everyone sort of has a dual-tone to their credit, and yet the movie is placed in that fun ambiance. And as always, he manages to get the best from his actors, which adds another layer of humor to the movie. Anurag Basu is also credited as the cinematographer of the film, along with Rajesh Shukla. His films always used visual quirks extensively, and colors are one of the crucial ingredients of his framing. That Ravi Varman style color richness is evident in Ludo as well. There is an effort to make Ludo an emotionally heartening story as well. That track isn’t that evident or firm, which the only major drawback I could sense was. As always, the combination of Basu and Pritham creates music that just fits the movie so perfectly.
Abhishek Bachchan’s Bittu is somewhat the same angry young man he has already portrayed on screen. But the story here adds a layer of empathy to that character, and the sequences he has with Inayat Verma are incredibly cute and funny. Inayat is so confident in her role that you will believe the impact of Mini on Bittu. Pankaj Tripathi as Sattu is almost like, what if Guddu from Mirzapur had an equally crazy and short-tempered big brother. The way he gives a distinctive feel to characters is entertaining to watch. Adithya Roy Kapoor is somewhat himself as Akash Chauhan. Sanya Malhotra, who plays the picky Shruti, delivers an impressive performance. Fatima Sana Sheikh is believable in her character. Still, it was Rajkummar Rao who sort of stole the show in that particular track of the story. Aloo is a caricature, but still, you will kind of love him for his foolish selflessness. Rohit Suresh Saraf and Pearle Maaney convincingly played the quirky couple. Ishtiyak Khan, as the inspector and Shalini Vatsa as the head nurse, also creates a solid impression through their performances.
If you have a soft corner towards Jagga Jasoos, mainly because you could sense the creative spark in the director to try something wacky and new, I would say Ludo is that perfect fun film for you. Ludo has imaginative writing, the craft of a director, and solid performances. Despite having too many tracks in the story, there was no significant confusion. The ease and warmth in the storytelling make Anurag Basu’s Ludo a pleasing watch.
Ludo has imaginative writing, the craft of a director, and solid performances. The ease and warmth in the storytelling make Anurag Basu’s Ludo a pleasing watch.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended