December 9, 2011
Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Parineeti Chopra, Dipannita Sharma, Aditi Sharma
I guess it can be safely said now: Ranveer Singh is here to stay. Unless he takes some really foolish decisions in the coming months and years, there can be no doubt that 20 years from now, this boy will be very much around and rocking. He was incredible in his first film Band Baaja Baaraat, but it was natural to wonder whether he (like some other actors we’ve known in the past) appeared good in BBB because his character Bittu was an extension of his own real-life personality. But with the varying tones he manages to capture while playing a confidence trickster in his second film, Ranveer lays all doubts to rest. In Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, he proves that he’s got acting talent, an arresting screen presence, an amazing body that he’ll flaunt if required, dancing skills and a likeability that no acting school can teach you.
The synopsis of Yash Raj Films’ Ladies vs Ricky Bahl is evident from its promos. Ranveer plays a con man who deceives women into parting with their cash. Three of his victims – Dimple Chaddha (Parineeti Chopra), Raina Parulekar (Dipannita Sharma) and Saira Rashid (Aditi Sharma) – team up to get back their money and get back at him. The person they rope in as their pawn is saleswoman Ishika Desai (Anushka Sharma) who is so good at her job that she could sell burglar alarms to the homeless! If this is the beginning, you’re likely to assume that the end is obvious. Yet it’s not, because of how the director deals with the journey there. Consider the possible scenarios that could emerge in the climax:
1) Ishika and Ricky could fall in love and jointly con Dimple, Raina and Saira
2) Ishika could fall in love with Ricky and become another of his victims
3) Ishika could fall in love with Ricky and convert him to goodness
4) Ricky could fall in love with Ishika and turn over a new leaf
5) Ricky could fall in love with Ishika and trick her into reciprocating his feelings while still managing to cheat the other women and getting the one he loves as a bonus
6) Ishika and Ricky may not do the obvious that you expect from a Hindi film hero and heroine – neither may flip for the other – and they could engage in an exciting fight to the finish
7) Or it may be none of the above
See! The end is not as easy to predict as you may think! And of course I won’t tell you which of the above seven scenarios we get in the film!
Because yes, for the most part, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl is fun. Ranveer has the ability to metamorphose from one personality to the other. And each of the ladies fits their role to a T. Dipannita looks the part of the business-like corporate type, Aditi does a good job of playing the conservative small-town girl with gumption, and Parineeti – the big find of this film! – is utterly loveable as the spoilt rich kid. A salaam to the film’s casting team for picking them and also for investing their faith in Anushka Sharma. Unlike the experience of seeing Ranveer in Band Baaja Baaraat, I don’t remember being smacked in the face with the impact of Anushka’s screen presence when I saw her first in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. She came across as pretty and spunky, but not an immediate attention grabber. Yet, over the five films that we’ve now seen her in, I find that she’s grown on me. Besides, Ranveer and Anushka share such excellent on-screen chemistry that the sexual tension between them is almost tangible.
So why am I not blown away by Ladies vs Ricky Bahl the way I was by Band Baaja Baaraat, director Maneesh Sharma’s debut film? First, because the victims of the final con in this story by Aditya Chopra seem too gullible to be credible, thus robbing the film of much of its impact in the second half. Also, Habib Faisal’s dialogues are as natural as usual in this film, but he doesn’t give us any take-home-with-you phrases like he did with Bittu and Shruti’s “binness” in BBB or “bread pakode ki kasam”. Another problem with this film is the unnecessary insertion of songs … The first shot of Ranveer is subtle and impactful, designed by a director who recognises his star’s charisma but does not over-state the point; the song that follows is unnecessary! In fact, Sharma takes a disappointingly conventional route in giving his hero an introductory number, another to his heroine, and accessorising the closing credits with a peppy track that brings all the major characters together … why?! Worse, Salim-Sulaiman’s songs are unmemorable (notwithstanding Ranveer’s rapping in Aadat se Majboor and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s sparring lyrics in Thug Le), so instead of revving up the energy levels in the film, they slacken its pace.
In the overall analysis though, I liked more than what I did not in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl. There’s a neat little tribute to Ranveer’s screen idol Shah Rukh Khan in this film, thankfully without referencing SRK’s collaborations with Yash Raj Films as is the wont of YRF productions. But the nicest part is that unlike other Hindi films involving loveable men of questionable character, Ricky Bahl is irresistible yet the film at no point trivialises or glosses over the pain of his female targets … you know the way mainstream Hindi films about male infidelity demand that wronged women should forgive their erring partners in a jiffy? In Ladies vs RB, I succumbed to the man too, but right till the end I also had a lump in my throat for the hurt he had caused those women! Ladies vs Ricky Bahl didn’t take my breath away like Band Baaja Baaraat did, but it’s simple and sweet and tugs at the heart in a way I completely did not expect from such a film.
Rating (out of five): ***
CBFC Rating: U/A
Running time: 140 Minutes
Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladies_vs_Ricky_Bahl