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Film Review: Ladies vs Ricky Bahl

Film Review: Ladies vs Ricky Bahl

December 11, 2011

A decent, enjoyable film from the team of Band Baaja Baraat, but not as original or captivating.



One year ago, Yash Raj Films (YRF) delivered a surprise hit, after a few years of stagnation. Big budget, stylized stagnation mind you, but stagnation nonetheless. Maneesh Sharma's directorial debut Band Baaja Baraat (BBB), starring newbie Ranveer Singh and YRF darling Anushka Sharma, brought a solid story and real world charm to a YRF product after a while. BBB emerged as one of the best films of last year, making both Sharma and Singh two of the most promising new talents in the business. Since such a team did wonders on its first run, YRF try it out again with their latest release Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, but they don't quite the hit the jackpot with this one.

Designed as a "rom-con," Ladies vs Ricky Bahl follows a suave conman Ricky (Singh) who changes identities as he moves from one city to another duping impressionable women and amassing wealth. In Delhi, there's Dimple (Parineeti Chopra), a loud-talking noveau riche brat. In Lucknow, our conman charms the calm, well-mannered cloth trader Saira (Aditi Sharma). And in Mumbai he traps strong-headed corporate executive Raina (Dipannita Sharma). The similarities with other con films are evident throughout, especially YRF ventures like Bunty Aur Babli, Dhoom 2 and Badmaash Company, which become reference points in some of the con acts. When the three women find one another as victims of fraud, they band together to get their revenge, pitting Ishika (Anushka Sharma), a fast-talking and incredibly persuasive department store sales girl, to con him back.

One of the film's strengths, and something that seems to be Maneesh Sharma's forte, is how grounded the characters are. Sharma (the director, since there are three other Sharmas in the film), screenwriter Devika Bhagat and dialogue writer Habib Faisal all work together make the characters, minus Ricky, instantly relatable. The women all work ordinary jobs and talk and behave like we all do. Sharma also fleshes out the settings well, giving Delhi, Lucknow and Mumbai their distinct appeal.

However, the holes in the script begin appearing towards the middle of the film and continue through the second half. While the women specifically decide on not involving cops in their revenge plot, it still seems far-fetched that no institutional authority would have caught wind of any of the con acts throughout. As Ricky orchestrates scams in real estate property, merchant trading and corporate transactions, it is difficult to believe that police investigators remained completely oblivious to the repeated offenses, especially after Dimple's father is arrested as a result of one of the cons.

Ricky as a character is half-baked. Singh plays the character with confidence and charm but is limited to playing with his various avatars. Beyond that, we never really know who Ricky is, his background, or why he does what he does, barring a hurried and simplistic explanation in the climax. Also, it is difficult to believe that such a seasoned conman could so easily be conned himself when the women join forces to bring him down. The second half veers into predictable territory when Ishika is brought on board to trap him and get the stolen money back, but Ricky parts with it a bit too conveniently.

Among the cast, the three supporting actresses steal the spotlight from the film's lead pair. Director Sharma seems to have a knack for introducing talented new actors and does it again with this film. Parineeti Chopra, a former executive at YRF and also cousin of Priyanka Chopra, delivers a supremely confident and lovable debut as Dimple from Delhi. She gets the rich daddy's girl-Delhi brat act just right without going overboard, with impressive comic timing and the best punchlines. Dipannita Sharma does well as the dominant character of the three, balancing the tough professional act with the anger of a woman wronged, without coming off as bitchy. Aditi Sharma as the simple and demure Lucknow girl manages her character's steady and subtle evolution into a gutsy yet level-headed woman with grace.

The lead pair, however, is forced to take a backseat. The Ranveer-Anushka track lacks the spark of their previous film, and is used much more as eye candy, especially in the Goa segments. In execution, their predictable love story (this is hardly a spoiler), is rushed and far more cliched from a director who in his previous film so brilliantly showed the lead couple sleeping together but making nothing of it. Here, the couple go to a beach party, dance together, steal a kiss, and then are madly in love right after. It's simple too masala a treatment from a director who showed with his first film that he could bring a good dose of realism back into masala.

Ladies vs Ricky Bahl isn't a boring film. It's kept breezy throughout, with enough going on to keep the audience distracted. However, it definitely misses the charm of Band Baaja Baraat, the complexity of emotions, the fleshed out characterizations, and the repeat value. It's a confident second film from Sharma and co, a decent "time pass" flick, but doesn't shine among this year's crop like Sharma's first film did last year.

Image courtesy of Yash Raj Films 

9 Comments

  • Pulkit Datta
    By
    Pulkit Datta
    22.01.12 11:38 AM
    @Vivek: Thanks for the comment.
    Glad to hear you're a fellow New Yorker and film buff. Feel free to get in touch with me via the contact section on this site. :-)
  • vivek
    By
    vivek
    11.01.12 11:14 PM
    I saw this film yesterday and came back here to read your reviews and I completely agree to most o fit. The chemistry between the lead pair was totally lacking. I loved Parineeti Chopra and now I will be looking forward to her 'Ishaqzaade' with Arjun Kapoor.

    I, like you, am all about movies and live in NYC. I would be very keen to know if you maintain some other blog for the movies you watch as well and give your views (not just bollywood films). Do let me know.
  • Pulkit
    By
    Pulkit
    02.01.12 11:28 AM
    Thanks all!

    @Pooja: I'm glad the review matched your reaction to the film. We strive to write honest, unbiased reviews and it's great when readers appreciate that. We'll see you back here for future reviews. :-)
  • pooja kopargaonkar
    By
    pooja kopargaonkar
    02.01.12 02:26 AM
    it was the exact review of the movie! what infact i felt after watching it :)
    from now onwards will look for your movie reviews when going for watching a movie
  • paritosh
    By
    paritosh
    26.12.11 01:07 PM
    this movie is gr8 i like it very much & the songs are also very tremendous....
    for dancing and listening....
  • Vidhya
    By
    Vidhya
    17.12.11 12:52 PM
    It's fun to watch in the theatre
  • Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
    By
    Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
    13.12.11 01:11 PM
    Interesting review! Shall wait for a DVD then. Cheers
  • bemoneyaware
    By
    bemoneyaware
    12.12.11 08:58 AM
    Thanks for the honest review..shall wait for movie to come on TV..
  • sristi das
    By
    sristi das
    11.12.11 01:46 PM
    wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
    yoooooooooooooooooo }
    thumbs up to u

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