Friday, December 09, 2011

Ladies vs Ricky Bahl 

Women on the Verge

The plot of  Maneesh Sharma’s Ladies vs Ricky Bahl is being compared to John Tucker Must Die (2006), but the origins of the character of Ricky Bahl and is many aliases probably owes its origins to Acharya Atre’s 1962 play To Mee Navhech later made into a Hindi film Woh Main Nahin.

A con man pretends to a be a different character as he works out an elaborate charade to con women across the country.  It is a point of script convenience  that none of the 31 women he cheats go to the police.  To Mee Navhech was a satire on marriage and the games people play,  Ladies vs Ricky Bahl has no such layers.

It aims to entertain todays ‘timepass’-seeking audience, and maybe it will succeed there.  It is funny in parts, the lines (Habib Faisal) are witty, and the performances pretty good.  The problem is that the director actually wants the audience to like and forgive the cheat.  And that maybe hard to do, even though Ranveer Singh who plays the elusive trickster is portrayed as handsome (debatable) and sexy (chiselled body). Typical Bollywood chauvinism, this turning a villain into a hero. For instance, he never takes advantage of the girls’ gullibility to exploit them—all he wants is money.

Three of his victims—Delhi girl Dimple (Parineeti Chopra), Lucknow’s Saira (Aditi Sharma) and Mumbai’s  Raina (Dipannita Sharma)—band together to take revenge and get their money back.  Their harebrained plan is to plant the chirpy salesgirl Ishika (Anushka Sharma) as an heiress and try to con the conman.

Parineeti Chopra steals the show as the loud and querulous Dimple who feels worse about losing a handsome boyfriend than her father’s money. She has the sparkle that Anushka Sharma had in the director’s Band Baaja Baraat, and seems to have lost on the way. Ranveer Singh turns on the charm, and carries off the role as if it was written specially for him. 

The way Ricky cheats the girls is too easy—everything simply goes according to plan.  How Raina traces Ricky to Goa is unlikely too, and the trap they lay for him, incredibly silly. That’s why the film just never gets wickedly humorous, or achieves a sense of challenge and risk; neither does it get sympathy for the girls, so the viewer is never absorbed in the story completely.  People this foolish deserve to be parted with their money—like the idiots who fall for get-rich-quick ponzi schemes.  Could have done with better music too!


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