Laapataa Ladies Movie Review

Laapataa Ladies Movie Review

This year is 2001. The state, Nirmal Pradesh, is fictitious – a permission to prioritize emotional credibility over cultural authenticity, as well as a tribute to the very Indian custom of naming a location (nirmal meaning “pure”) to contrast its underlying reality. Deepak (Sparsh Shrivastava) and Phool (Nitanshi Goel), two young newlyweds, are making the long journey to his village. They’re not the only veiled bride and jumpy husband on the train after marrying on an auspicious occasion. A late-night snafu causes Deepak to arrive at his station with the incorrect ‘wife’. By the time he sees her face, he’s already in his family home, in the midst of a celebration and in the most mortifying circumstance imaginable. His parents are not impressed, and his buddies are almost amused. To make matters worse, this erroneous bride, Pushpa (Pratibha Ranta), has no knowledge where her own spouse lives. Meanwhile, a worried Phool goes down with Pushpa’s new family but decides to wait at the station. She has also forgotten the name of Deepak’s village. It’s a tragedy of blunders. Shyam Manohar (Ravi Kishan), a crooked cop, takes on the case.

With a talented cast and intriguing premise, ‘Laapataa Ladies’ promises to be a captivating film. The couple boarded a crowded train to Deepak’s village, Mukhi. Because it’s wedding season, their compartment is also filled with married couples. The women are dressed similarly and have a large crimson veil covering their faces, obscuring their view. When their journey comes to an end at night, Deepak misidentifies another bride as Phool and invites her to join him. After coming home, Deepak discovers that the woman he has carried home is not his wife Phool, but rather a girl named Pushpa Rani (Pratibha Ranta). Phool gets off at another rural station and ends up lost. She is assisted by a midget named Chotu (Satendra Soni) and Manju Maayi (Chhaya Kadam), an old woman who runs the tea stall. Pushpa is adopted and well-cared for by Deepak’s family, and the entire family is working to reunite her with her original spouse. But she isn’t who she seems. Meanwhile, a crooked but benevolent police officer, Manohar (Ravi Kishan), becomes interested in the case and draws shocking conclusions.

Laapataa Ladies Movie Review

Not all hell breaks loose. Setting this rural satire in 2001 is a clever approach to ensure that technology does not derail the probe too early. (Nokia cellphones are expensive enough to constitute dowry gifts). To be more explicit, it is the middle of March. Harbhajan Singh’s hat-trick at Eden Gardens is announced on the radio. The narrative that follows is familiar. Over the next few days, while their divergent worlds serve as symbols for social invisibility and real absence, the two lost brides of Laapataa Ladies (“Missing Ladies”) begin to discover themselves. They begin to make fresh lime soda from life’s lemons. This is by no means a groundbreaking story. What it is, however, is effective feel-good storytelling. The principles are solid: a balance of levity and solemnity, criticism and one-liners, milieu and escapist, urban gaze and hinterland candour. It’s also an example of post-pandemic filmmaking that remains static – and plain – because it understands that the ordinary audience is in motion.

In other words, Kiran Rao’s second film revels in its back-to-basis simplicity. It’s obvious from a distance, but there’s something about a gratifying payoff that appeals to the old school. A predictable yet well-executed confrontation. A complicated yet lovely turmoil. Stagey, but idealistic humour. The narrative is based on tropes, such as Phool being ‘adopted’ by a band of golden-hearted railway misfits, or Pushpa gently schooling but influencing everyone in Deepak’s household. But, like 12th Fail (2023), the picture adheres to a template. So, when Deepak misses Phool, a cheesy wedding flashback arises, but it’s lifted by a charming scene in which he tries to impress her with both his English (“I love you”) and his dramatic facial expressions as he says it. There’s a performative quiver in his voice and a light in his eye, indicating that he learned it from a Bollywood movie.

A script worth following.

There are many examples of similar tonal conviction. When a progressive Pushpa questions Deepak’s mother (Geeta Agarwal Sharma, of course) about her love of cooking, the middle-aged woman delivers one of the film’s many’scripted’ lines: “I suppose women embrace all identities – mother, wife, sister, daughter – except friendships”. But then she asks her mother-in-law whether they might be friends, a humorous gesture that deflates the film’s overly serious tone. When Phool begins working at the station, she gains confidence and wonders aloud why “women don’t get more opportunities”. The caustic argument given to her, that fear mislead women into believing they need males, is similar to Manoj Kumar Sharma’s response at his UPSC interview in 12th Fail: “If citizens were educated, it would become a problem for the leaders”.

The minor nuances are also painfully real. The symbolism of “blooming” (read: developing, coming of age) is sprinkled throughout the picture. Both Phool and Pushpa mean ‘flower’; Deepak means ‘light’ or ‘lamp’; and the village Phool can’t recall is called Surajmukhi (sunflower). Pushpa’s real name is revealed to be Jaya (‘victory’), which is an important component of the national song, only after we learn that she is already ahead in her fight for independence. The rumor of a ‘fake bride gang’ is planted early on, causing the audience, like the protagonists, to question Jaya’s moral legitimacy. It’s almost natural that the woman’s quest for agency is veiled in duplicity and villainy. Her struggle is a true expression of society bias: a girl who dares to dream is a man-made nightmare. Some of the girls’ experiences appear overly tidy and simple, although this may equally be seen as the film’s quest to reclaim fantasy from the harsh outlines of reality. After all, it is a mistake caused by the practical discomfort of a ‘ghoonghat’, a veil designed to obscure a woman’s honor and divert their glance downward, that opens their eyes.