Directed by: Maneesh Sharma
Starring: Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Dipannita Sharma, Aditi Sharma and Parineeti Chopra
All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
WARNING: Contains spoilers! Please revisit my review after watching the film if you do not wish to know what happens.
For some strange reason, the first time I saw the teaser for Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl (LVRB), I caught the last frame where Ranveer stares at the viewer with the words “you’re next” leading me to think this was a film about a serial killer – however, thanks to the de rigeur incessant promotion of films in general these days, that notion was quickly put to rest. But there was no avoiding the red and white nightingale voiced elephant in the room that is Band Baaja Baaraat – after all, this is the first film reuniting Maneesh, Anushka and Ranveer since BBB (which took us all by surprise and made itself comfortable in our hearts and minds) and expectations were high. And try as we might, the comparison with BBB would remain, despite the best of intentions.
Unfortunately, LVRB is not as good as BBB. Take Bachna Ae Haseeno and Badmaash Company, mix together with the stylist from Dhoom and you have LVRB. The film looks and feels very familiar and though it is an entertaining watch, it is nowhere near the richness of detail and nuance that BBB had. Even if we set BBB to one side, LVRB still has a few problems. The biggest one for me was Ricky Bahl himself (who only uses his real name once in the film a la James Bond in Casino Royale – you know my name etc). What are Ricky’s motivations for conning the girls? Why does he give up his wicked ways so quickly for Ishika? (A no brainer really – what wouldn’t you give up for Anushka Sharma?) Is Ricky a misogynist?! Whilst it may seem I am nit-picking, I did find towards the end I didn’t care what happened to Ricky or if the girls got their money back, as by that stage, any emotional investment in the film had already been spent.
But the film is not a complete write off – the female characters are interesting, each getting what she wants out of life in her own way and not relying on a man to get what they need (apart from Dimpy and except when they fall for Ricky’s con – dammit, the premise has a flaw!) The film also moves at a choppy pace, is technically slick and at times shows flashes of brilliance, mainly through characterisation but also the odd moment here and there where everything comes together and the Maneesh Sharma magic shines through (inspite of the headache inducing lights, the discotheque scene where Ricky and Ishika fall for one another was a good example of this). I also thought the styling was superb, with the girls’ wardrobe not only reflecting their characters but also the character of their respective cities (all roads lead to cliche ville!). I also loved Ricky’s wardrobe, with shawl collars, jersey and linen used in abundance, making me wish it wasn’t winter here in the UK right now.
Performance wise, I thought Ranveer did the best he could but it wasn’t my cup of tea – though he is let down by not having the author backed role, I thought his performance was perfunctory rather than dynamic and far too subdued; after all, he is supposed to seduce the audience just like he had done with the ladies but this was not evident to me. If anything, I felt the girls were silly for falling for him in the first place. Thank god then that the ladies save the day. Aditi Sharma is very good as Saira, showing grit and a quiet dignity and acting as the mediator between Dimpy and Raina but still making her mark. Similarly, Dipannita Sharma manages to sidestep the stock character she is assigned (Radhika/Shreya from Bachna Ae Haseeno anyone?) and make Raina her own, underlining her character’s determination and cool headed thinking.
Anushka is fantastic as always and has to be said, looks sensational. Though her role could do with more definition (and length – she needed to be drafted in much sooner!) Anushka powers above it all demonstrating star quality and making her presence felt, as well as doing more than the role demands – which is ideally what Ranveer should have done. The star of the show is undoubtedly Parineeti Chopra who steals nearly every scene she is in as the spoilt Daddy’s girl and carries off the role with such ease and confidence that she is more of an experienced actress than a debutante.
Clearly, Maneesh Sharma is a talented director and the strongest parts of LVRB are the rare occasions the characters become three dimensional but sadly, he does not get enough time to explore that aspect here. Even on its own merits, LVRB could have been a much better film if it had not gone with the most obvious route of trying to please everybody but instead, give what some viewers may think is a familiar premise a different treatment. Rather than compare LVRB to BBB, it has more in common with Yashraj’s previous release Mere Brother Ki Dulhan which did not have any ideas above its station and did exactly what it said on the tin.
In the same way, had LVRB been promoted and pitched like Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, it wouldn’t feel as if Yashraj were trying to make a quick buck off of BBB and it would have been viewed in the spirit intended rather than carry the weight of enormous expectation which it couldn’t shoulder. Having said that, LVRB is a fun one time watch and could have been much worse than it actually is. If you can, try not to think of BBB and you will probably be able to enjoy this film for what it is – which is definitely not is a film about a serial killer…