Available on: Netflix
'O betaa ji, are o baabu ji, kismat ki hava kabhi naram, kabhi garam, kabhi naram-naram, kabhi garam-garam.' Bhagwan Dada's track from the 1951 film Albela perfectly sums up a game of ludo! A board game where four players race their four tokens from start to finish according to the roll of a dice. Anurag Basu brings this classic game to life with his latest ensemble film Ludo. At one point in the film, one of the characters even quip, "Life is ludo and ludo is life.'
What's Yay: Performances, Direction, Music
What's Nay: The game loses its steam in a few portions
Ex-convict Bittu (Abhishek Bachchan) wants to settle old scores with a local don Sattu (Pankaj Tripathi) as the latter is responsible for crumbling Bittu's personal life into pieces. The hue of red in Abhishek's character refers to his anger and his past sins. Life gives him a chance for redemption when he bumps into an effervescent Mini (Inayat Verma), who restores the moral compass in his life.
Akash (Aditya Roy Kapur), a ventriloquist and Ahana (Sanya Malhotra) find themselves in a sticky situation when their old sex clip goes viral on an adult website. Their past threatens to jeopardize Ahana's much-awaited destination wedding with a rich businessman. Akash-Ahana's yellow square signifies their blithe romance.
Aalu (Rajkummar Rao), a small-time crook-turned-dhaba owner pines for his childhood crush Pinky (Fatima Sana Shaikh) who is married to another man. Pinky compels him to help her in getting her philandering husband out of jail. "Kuch rishton mein logic nahi hota, sirf magic hota hai," Aalu reasons out every time Pinky turns up at his door for help. The green square signifies Aalu-Pinky's survival in the game.
There's the blue square in the form of Rahul (Rohit Suresh Saraf), a mall employee and Sheeja (Pearle Maney), a rookie nurse. When their lives collide, it's a roller-coaster ride.
Sattu (Pankaj Tripathi) is the dice which unites these individual tracks to set the game of Ludo in motion.
Anurag Basu's multi-narrative story-telling in Ludo talks about 'sin and virtue' and 'second chances'. The filmmaker's hold on his hyperlink cinema is praiseworthy. With each move of the dice, he brings in some delightful twists and turns to keep you invested in the film. Of course, 'dada' takes his own sweet time to build the plot. But once the characters criss-cross in the wild goose chase, you know that you are in for a roll.
On the flipside, the screenplay slips a bit at places in this black comedy. But, Basu quickly realizes the folly and sets the dice in motion again.
Abhishek Bachchan's Bittu has faint shades of Lallan from Yuva. But when it comes to the emotional scenes, the man does make you tear up a bit. His scenes with the young Inayat Verma warm the cockles of your hearts. Rajkummar Rao gets to play the quintessential Bollywood hero straight from a masala potboiler and boy, he seems to be having a ball playing it. Koi shaq? Fatima Sana Shaikh is a pleasant surprise.
Aditya Roy Kapur is a charmer as Akash, and easily slips into the gentle and cool demeanour of his character. Sanya Malhotra as Ahana is goofy and lightens up the screen. Rohit Saraf is promising in his role and lends a childlike innocence to the plot. Pearle Maney is a revelation, and her chemistry with Rohit is affable. Pankaj Tripathi delivers fireworks on screen. Asha Negi too, leaves an impact in her brief role.
Anurag Basu and Rajesh Shukla succeed in tapping your emotions with their colour palette. Each frame adds a layer to the story-telling. Ajay Sharma has a tight grip on his editing scissors resulting in a delightful, zany end-product.
Arijit Singh's 'Aabaad Barbaad' and 'Hardum Humdum' is pleasant music to your ears. Jubin Nautiyal-Ash King's 'Meri Tum Ho' also tugs at your heartstrings.
"Sawaal puch raho raho jalebi kaa aur jawaab chahiye kalakand ka," quips a character, and you realize that Anurag Basu has a lot of twists and turns in store in this game of ludo. Fortunately, Dada rolls a six in almost every frame to give us an entertaining game.
We give 3 stars out of 5 for Anurag Basu's Ludo. Give this game a shot!