‘Laapataa Ladies’ Movie Review | A delightful cinematic journey, nuanced comedy

March 1, 2024
'Laapata Ladies' is a delightful cinematic journey; with its blend of humour, heart, and social commentary transcends cultural boundaries.

The portrayal of women in cinema often falls prey to stereotypes, perpetuating narrow perspectives and pigeonholing individuals based on gender. However, in the case of ‘Laapata Ladies’, director Kiran Rao ventures beyond the confines of such clichés, offering a refreshing take that resonates with both male and female audiences alike.

Set in rural India circa 2001, the narrative follows the intertwined journeys of Phool (Nitanshi Goel) and Jaya (Pratibha Ranta), two newlywed brides inadvertently swapped during a train journey to their respective in-laws’ homes.

It is sheer coincidence that they also share the same crammed coach of the Indian Railways. Phool has been instructed by her mother to keep looking at her feet. The veil, her mother warns, is the reason for the wearer to be the obedient duty-bound wife, forever looking down and being quiet. It is her modesty that will be her husband’s strength.

Wearing identical sarees and bridal veils that hide their faces entirely, the two can barely be recognised by their respective spouses. Quite naturally, Phool’s husband Deepak (Sparsh Shrivastava) mistakenly wakes up Jaya in the night and takes her to his home in his village, while Phool is shepherded by Jaya’s husband, only to be deserted at a railway station.

What ensues is a comedic yet poignant exploration of identity, agency, and the evolving roles of women in society.

Rao’s directorial finesse, honed by her previous success with ‘Dhobi Ghaat’, shines through in her nuanced portrayal of characters grappling with unexpected circumstances. Through Phool and Jaya, brilliantly portrayed by Nitanshi Goel and Pratibha Ranta respectively, Rao delves into themes of resilience and self-discovery amidst societal expectations and patriarchal norms.

The supporting cast, including Sparsh Shrivastava as Phool’s bewildered husband Deepak and Ravi Kishan as the complex yet ultimately empathetic cop Manohar, further enriches the narrative tapestry, adding layers of depth and authenticity to the storytelling.

While Rao’s film is not explicitly framed as a feminist manifesto, it subtly champions women’s empowerment through its depiction of Phool and Jaya’s journey towards independence and self-realization. By infusing the narrative with humour and warmth, Rao deftly navigates themes of gender equality without resorting to preachiness or moral grandstanding.

Visually captivating, thanks to Vikram Singh’s meticulous production design and Vikash Nowlakha’s evocative cinematography, ‘Laapata Ladies’ transports viewers to the rustic charm of rural India, immersing them in a world teeming with vibrant characters and relatable experiences.

Complemented by Ram Sampath’s soulful musical score, which adds an extra layer of texture to the film’s narrative fabric, ‘Laapata Ladies’ is a delightful cinematic journey that resonates long after the credits roll. With its blend of humour, heart, and social commentary, Kiran Rao’s latest offering cements her status as a filmmaker with a keen eye for storytelling that transcends cultural boundaries.

Movie: Laapataa Ladies
Directed by: Kiran Rao
Cast: Nitanshi Goel, Pratibha Ranta, Sparsh Shrivastava, Bhaskar Jha, Geeta Agarwal, Chhaya Kadam, Ravi Kishan
Running time: 122 minutes

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