Laapataa Ladies Movie Review: Lol

In a quirky twist of fate, the opening of “Laapataa Ladies” presents a scenario as amusing as it is bizarre. A bride, her vision hindered by the ceremonial veil known as a ghunghat, steps off a train with her supposed husband, only to discover the man she accompanied home isn’t her spouse at all. This matrimonial mix-up sets the stage for a comedy-drama rich in both laughter and nuances of the human condition.

“Laapataa Ladies,” a film with a pleasantly soft touch akin to its fictitious setting of ‘Nirmal Pradesh’ (translating to ‘soft state’), weaves a narrative that delves into the truths of adjusting to space, people, and circumstances. Director Kiran Rao, known for her stunning debut with “Dhobi Ghat” (2010), showcases her diverse directorial prowess with her second feature, which is nothing less than subversive entertainment.

The genre-defying film, part feminist comedy, rural romcom, and borderline thriller, brazenly tackles a plot that could easily spiral into absurdity, yet it manages to intertwine enough realistic elements to provide a satisfying cinematic journey. Echoing the Great Indian Railway saga, the film opens with the practice of “adjusting” – squeezing twice as many passengers onto a train berth as it should hold. It’s in this cramped backdrop that the initial confusion arises, leading to the inadvertent bride swap.

Despite the obviousness of the mistake, the sanguinity with which the displaced bride settles into her unexpected new home feels refreshingly undisturbed, suggesting a subliminal acceptance of unconventional disruptions. With the serene village and its rhythmic, calming beats as a backdrop, a tale of humor and light-hearted humanism ensues, contrasting what could have been a darker tale of rights and oppression.

Based on a story by the film editor Biplab Goswami, which was subsequently turned into a book and then a screenplay by Sneha Desai and Divyanidhi Sharma, “Laapataa Ladies” flourishes with its roots firmly planted in the central Indian village milieu. The tale carries a gentle energy, primarily light and comedic, yet it doesn’t shy away from presenting characters immersed in genuine depth and good.

The film’s ensemble cast, including newcomer leads Sparsh Shrivastava, Pratibha Ranta, and Nitanshi Goel, composes a harmonious symphony of relationships, both misplaced and destined. Their serendipitous intermingling constructs a world that audiences can’t help but feel a part of — engaged and captivated by every unfolding moment.

“Laapataa Ladies” resonates with an authenticity akin to the acclaimed Amazon series “Panchayat.” It breathes the same air of freshness and originality, captivating those yearning for narratives set against the less traversed paths of Indian cinema. The inclusion of actor Durgesh Kumar (daroga’s deputy) nods to the connected yet standalone art pieces that enrich Indian storytelling tradition.

Highlighted within the film is the staggering statistic: approximately two-thirds of Indians reside in villages. Yet, mainstream Hindi cinema rarely explores rural settings, given its urbane disposition. This reinforces the uniqueness of “Laapataa Ladies,” firmly set in the year 2001, away from the distractions of social media and smartphones that might have diluted its simple charms.

Beyond its compelling narrative, the movie serves as a subtle yet striking commentary on the role of women in society. The power of the film lies not in overwrought drama but in its ability to elicit genuine laughter. Its underlying commentary is delivered through empathy, subtlety, and a touch of comedy so refined, it prompts not just chuckles but outright guffaws.

With “Laapataa Ladies,” Kiran Rao solidifies her penchant for crafting moving pictures that speak to the heart of the audience. As a director, Rao had seemingly vanished from the scene following her debut, but through her production work on films like “Peepli Live” (2010), she maintained a quiet influence on the industry, particularly in how it reflects rural life and society at large.

In the end, “Laapataa Ladies” offers a reminder of the importance of solitude and the strength it fosters within individuals. It stresses that once one can truly be at peace alone, the chaos and confusion of the world fade into mere background noise. This multifaceted film beckons viewers not just to watch but to experience the joy, empathy, and the shared laughter that echoes through its frames.

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