‘LUDO’ IS A FILM ABOUT THE ECCENTRICITY IN THE WORLD

Rating: 4/5
Just like Anurag Basu’s previous signature works, this one too is positioned for a certain section; you’ll love it if you embrace the world created by him

It’s a difficult piece of filmmaking. Artistic. Stylish. Sincere. Serious. Symbolic. In the hidden philosophy of the board game, Ludo justifies life and human nature and also the existentialism, much for the debates of the greater significance. With an ensemble cast perfectly connected, being a lesson in filmmaking of sorts, this film nudges the cinematic bug in you.

Watch the trailer here:

PLOT

Four separate stories, mostly connected with their past, come together through a common link- a dreaded criminal. They all must find purpose in their lives ultimately for happiness.

STORY/SCREENPLAY/GENERAL

Basu has penned the story and screenplay and the dialogues are by Samrat Chakraborty. Give it to Basu for coming up with a complex story, with of course a common thread and linking it to the godly philosophies of good and bad, virtue and sin, life and death. Now it’s a given fact that notions like these are difficult to comprehend on a visual medium. A maker like Basu uses his power of telling such stories with ease.

Looking at the film in the first sight, it does look a simple crime drama, wherein every character is strange. Reminds you of the film Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminey where almost all its characters carried a negative tone. Of course this one is too different in treatment and execution and how stories are played on screen. But as you move on supported by the parallel conversation of two strangers (one of whom is played by Basu himself), you realise there is much more in the film than what meets the eye. More to do with the philosophies of life, the film talks essentially about fate, just like a player’s in the game of Ludo.

ludo, netflix, review, hindi, film, 2020
Scenes from the film (image source: thedailyguardian)

The first 30mins dedicated to the setup of the four primary characters and the common link- the dice Pankaj Tripathi, are extremely interesting. In fact, while talking about harsh realities of life, the film occasionally breaks into humour, of the kind that will make you laugh even if you are watching it alone.

The film is primarily an anthology of four independent stories with individual struggles. But the screenplay runs back and forth in a way that while connecting one story with the other, it reminds you of the small details that you must have missed in the same scene when it appeared earlier. The sharp cuts between scenes allow you to marvel the connect between stories, enabling you to understand the stories in totality.

The film is a combination of almost all filmmaking elements and parameters that are possibly needed for a film. Ranging from action to comedy to drama, emotions, love, cinematic exaggeration put across by a superlative teamwork of technicalities- the film has it all.

Of course, it will make a section of audience drift away. For one, at 150mins, it is too long, especially for OTT audience. Secondly, the drama will seem repetitive after a point and the audience will want a culmination soon. Hence, it does incline towards dullness. Also, the use of whacky camera and editing tropes may also alienate this section.

PERFORMANCE

Abhishek Bachchan delivers a master performance. He lives up to all the layers in his character supremely well. He will make you emotional several times, especially in the long take where he steps on sides to get a glimpse of his daughter. His expressions are to die for. A very good act. Who says this man can’t act?

ludo, netflix, film, review, hindi, 2020
Director Anurag Basu with Sanya Malhotra and Aditya Roy Kapur on sets (image source: instagram)

Second in line is definitely Rajkummar Rao. Using his body to his maximum advantage, he breaking into random dance moves is the best thing about his character. He is so good that the role comes naturally to him. He is a hopelessly optimistic lover, and he remains one till his last frame. He is simply brilliant.

Pankaj Tripathi, another genius delivers a power packed act. You can go on and on appreciating him, and it won’t suffice. In the role of a bizarre criminal, he brings the key negative angle in the film.

Aditya Roy Kapur is fine. He looks good and acts well. His character isn’t that great as per the arc is concerned. He doesn’t have layers as such. He performs ably though. Sanya Malhotra too is very good, giving her filmography one more strong work to be proud of. You like seeing their chemistry on screen.

Fatima Sana Sheikh has done a decent job, and it’s only now that more people will notice the actress in her. Asha Negi has a small role, but she makes her mark. She has been given some fine lines to deliver, and she makes it count.

Rohit Saraf could have performed a little better. It has also got to do with his characterisation that doesn’t let him rise beyond a limit. Pearle Maaney has done very good with her character, bringing in little nuances which make her come with a recall value.

Inayat Verma, the little girl, is bang on with her job. She has a spark. Paritosh Tripathi also has his moments and he brings depth in his narrative. Ishtiak Khan’s role also acts as a link between stories and whenever he appears, you are left amused.

OTHER TECHNICALITIES

Pritam’s music isn’t that great as far as individual songs are concerned. But they don’t seem unnecessary when they appear in the film. The songs give meaning to the narrative and help taking the film forward. Background score is one thing that binds the film together, tightly. A very thoughtful score works in sync with the editing of the film, giving those transitions a smoothness.

Cinematography by Anurag Basu and Rajesh Shukla is why the film is what it is. The bold and audacious use of colours (of course apart from the four colours of the game) all through the film give it an edge. Observe keenly to understand the connotations associated with those colours. The warm lights when Abhishek Bachchan gives his finger for the little girl to hold is just an example. The shots are stylistically framed, the movements, or the occasional slow motions add to the charm of the story. Production design by Basu himself along with the art directors Anjani Gajurel, Fayyaz Fakhi and Kailash Sahu makes the film belong to a certain world. It is purely cinematic, with hints of realism, but also of the sorts that will ask you to suspend your disbelief in the most likeable manner. The world is vibrant, crazy, and by all means visually enticing.

Editing by Ajay Sharma deserves a bow. Almost the entire film that you see or rather cherish is because of great definitions at the editing table. One scene to another or showing diffrent vantage points, or making you progress from one story within the story, or even playing them together, when and how- is beautifully done. Editing has always been a striking factor in Basu’s films and this one is no less.

This is a dark satire. Dark comedy. A dark film presented in a colourful way to convey much bigger and extravagant emotions. As said, the cinematic buff inside you will love this. The cinematic audience will probably only like it. A casual cinema viewer may even despise this. That’s Anurag Basu for you.

Rochak Saxena

Rochak Saxena a Mass Media Teacher, former journalist at DNA and an ardent lover of Hindi films - literally. The blog derives its name from the popular term ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’, most commonly used in the world of literature and cinema. Meaning to immerse yourself in an unreal world (where you know what you see on screen is fake) with a self-proclaimed/declared belief/wish to consider it real, the willing world becomes magical. It’s the same magic every Friday that drives Rochak to share things in the perspective that it needs to be observed with. Every film is different. And the difference needs to be cherished.

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