“Ludo is four different stories tied together by unavoidable circumstances and coincidences far beyond our understanding, all of which make up for a crazy caper of a film.” – Netflix
Ludo premiered on 12th November 2020 on Netflix. Directed by Anurag Basu, the film stars Abhishek A Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapur, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Rohit Saraf, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Pearle Maaney, Inayat Verma, Asha Negi, and Shalini Vats.
Life is Ludo, and Ludo is Life
When it comes to filmmaking, Anurag Basu is a gem to be preserved. With films like Jagga Jasoos, Barfi, Murder, Life In A Metro, and more Basu has proved himself to the audiences time and again. This time Basu has come up with a film where characters cross paths just like tokens in the board game Ludo, sometimes even cutting each other and the aim is to reach the main house and win! Simple right? But what if your life is dependent on that one roll of dice? Ah, the sweet smell of trouble!
Ludo, like the 4 houses in the game: Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow, presents 4 intertwined storylines. The characters of this game are mob boss Sattu Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi) (whose jam is a song from the 1951 film Albela “O Betaji, O Babuji, Kismat ki Hawa Kabhi Naram, Kabhi Garam” and therefore the track is reoccurring in the film), his ex-associate and arrested goon Bittoo (Abhishek Bachchan), stand-up comedian Akash (Aditya Roy Kapur), soon-to-be-bride Shruti (Sanya Malhotra), Alok aka Aloo (Rajkummar Rao), a full-time Mithun can, ex-conman and now a part-time restaurant owner, the love of his life Pinky (Fatima Sana Sheikh), a sweet Tamilian nurse who doesn’t know Hindi Sreeja (Pearle Maaney) and Rahul Awasthi (Rohit Suresh Saraf), a broke mall worker.
The narrative structure that Ludo follows is tangled and it is meant to be like that. There are bizarrely-connected sequences and absurd action which makes this film a surreal experience altogether. Scenes like a crane in a hospital picking up a bed, taking a hotel’s almirah when the safe can’t be broken, amalgamating the idea of cows and voters (we know what it is pointing at), and various other sequences add to the quality! There is talk about good, bad, morality, sin, heaven, and hell which adds to the thought-factor in Ludo.
The ensemble cast of the film is flawless and if this film was to be called one with the best Bollywood star-cast package, nobody would have raised an objection!
Every time I see Tripathi in a film I know it is going to a blast both literally and figuratively! There is no escaping Tripathi’s choice of film and his acting skills. He is flawless as anything he decides to be, whether it’s the funny yet powerful Sattu Bhaiya in Ludo or the conqueror as Kalen Bhaiya in Mirzapur or as ‘Gochi’ Guruji in Sacred Games – there is nothing that can make him miss the mark. Here, Sattu Bhaiya straps his gun on his thighs and it’s absurdly hilarious.
Rajkummar Rao as Aloo wins the audiences yet again here – he is absolutely impeccable. He dances, he sings, he fights, he cries but above all, he loves! The persona of a “hopeless aashiq” in bell-bottoms dancing when sad or when he recites the hotel menu, Rao, in his part, is someone you just can’t miss or look away. He is there and you will notice him unforgettably.
The on-screen chemistry between Aditya Roy Kapur and Sanya Malhotra bring love and complicated affection to the screen. While Kapur’s Akash is honest and knows his heart, Malhotra’s Shruti is trained to believe that she is born to marry a rich man and that is the only motive of her life. She is confused and finds it difficult to place herself in between his relationship with Akash and his groom-to-be. Her character is a commentary on the make-believe position of women in our society and how it conflicts each and every day of their existence.
Bachchan as Bittoo is memorable but with very little character arc. He is a family man who lost his family while in jail. His wife moved on but the only thing that kept the human within him alive is his daughter Ruhi (who doesn’t know he’s his father). More than Bachchan, I would like to reward the child character Ruhi here as she, at points, is the driving force of his story. Adorable!
Other than the above-mentioned cast members others who add to the success of Ludo are Fatima Sana Sheikh as Pinky whose husband is a cheater, Ishtiyak Khan as Inspector Sukumar Sinha, a cop, Rohit Suresh Saraf as Rahul, seemingly a chocolate boy turned wrong, and Anurag Basu and Rahul Bagga in their cameo.
STREAM IT OR SKIP IT
STREAM IT! Ludo is worth your time and energy. It is not crass like some of the recent Bollywood releases, specifically Laxmii, from which you should just steer clear and never look back. The only thing that makes the film go a little downtown is its length (150 minutes). However, other than that, Ludo is a wholesome entertainer with a praiseworthy cast.
Also, does anybody else feel that the name ‘Ludo’ is an addition attention-grabbing, selling point of the film as Ludo King was one of the most played games during this pandemic! No? It’s just me? Ok!
Fun Fact: There are both Yamraj and Chitragupta and a sex tape scandal in the film, beware!
Ludo is now streaming on Netflix.
Read our other reviews here.