Saturday, May 25, 2024

Cultural Complexity: A Review of Laapataa Ladies

Nupur Jha

Kiran Rao, the director of Dhobi Ghat, is back with another charming rural tale called Laapataa Ladies. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2023, and had its theatrical release on March 1, 2024. Produced by Jio Studios, the film features a talented cast of Nitanshi Goel, Sparsh Shrivastav, Pratibha Ratna, Ravi Kishan, and Chhaya Kadam.

Despite lacking big-name stars, Laapataa Ladies is gaining the attention of the audience.

Are you curious if it’s worth your time? Here’s a spoiler-free review to help you decide, highlighting the good and the bad.

The Story, Simplicity And Characters

Kiran Rao tells a down-to-earth story in Laapataa Ladies. The tale unfolds in 2001, a time when mobile phones and proper transportation were scarce, setting the stage for later chaos.

The movie starts with Deepak (Sparsh Shrivastava), a simple-minded guy who is newly married, taking his wife, Phool (Nitanshi Goel), to his village. On a crowded train filled with newlyweds in traditional attire, they arrive home only to realize Deepak accidentally bought the wrong bride, Jaya (Pratibha Ratna).

Things take a twist when Phool finds herself at the wrong station, surrounded by strangers and Jaya, who appears to have ulterior motives behind her actions.

In Laapataa Ladies, Kiran Rao creates characters that feel incredibly authentic. Jaya, posing as Pushpa Rani, exudes a bold and modern mindset, while Phool is more traditional and innocent. Despite their differences, both face the challenges of a patriarchal society.

The movie isn’t about blaming men or the patriarchy; it’s about these women finding their voices. Their journeys are portrayed with authenticity, respecting the character’s own beliefs and traditions. Jaya encourages women to pursue their dreams, while Phool values family and her husband above all else.

Deepak is portrayed as a devoted husband, showing that being patriarchal doesn’t mean disrespecting women. Even Ravi Kishan’s character, initially depicted as a greedy policeman, evolves to show how the law can support and protect women.

Bit Loud And Bollywood Issue On Traditional Hindu Culture

Laapataa Ladies falls into the typical Bollywood pattern of depicting Hindu traditions as negative. While some elements, like the symbolism of the long veil representing women’s loss of identity post-marriage, are understandable, certain dialogues in the film cast cultural practices in a harsh or negative light. This reflects a recurring problem in Bollywood, where Hindu culture is often unfairly portrayed as villainous for dramatic storytelling.

At times, Laapataa Ladies can feel a bit preachy, particularly with characters like Jaya and Manju Maai advocating feminism. However, the film manages to strike a balance as it progresses, ensuring that these viewpoints don’t dominate the storytelling. In the end, this equilibrium leads to a compelling and fulfilling ending.

Laapataa Ladies is a must-watch for those seeking a light yet engaging story with excellent performances. Despite a few preachy moments, the film is delightful, accompanied by fantastic music, and captures the nostalgic essence of the 2001 era. It’s certainly worth watching for its simplicity and heartfelt storytelling.

Rating: 6.5/10

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