‘Laapataa Ladies’ Review: Kiran Rao Masters a Feminist Tale

Kiran Rao’s ‘Laapataa Ladies’ has received positive reviews from critics and fans alike. Find out if the film is worth your time.

'Laapataa Ladies' Review_ Kiran Rao Masters a Feminist Tale - f

Kiran has not lost her flair for weaving compelling drama.

Laapataa Ladies blends Bollywood with feminism as it explores the story of two lost brides in rural India.

The film was released on March 1, 2024, and is an ode to women’s empowerment, ambition, and love.

Directed by Kiran Rao and written by Sneha Desai, the movie is an honest attempt at projecting independence and affection.

It is also produced by the famous Aamir Khan Productions banner, which has given Bollywood enduring classics including Lagaan (2001), Taare Zameen Par (2007), and Dangal (2016).

Despite having a cast of relatively new actors, the film has plenty of warm, heart-touching moments.

So, let DESIblitz help you decide whether to give Laapataa Ladies a chance or not.

A Crisp Story that Engages and Inspires

'Laapataa Ladies' Review_ Kiran Rao Masters a Feminist Tale - A Crisp Story that Engages and InspireFor any film to work with the viewers, the story has to be engaging and entertaining.

Sneha Desai captures a vivid portrayal of Indian women and how they are expected to behave in a patriarchal society.

Set in 2001, the film tells the saga of two women who get lost in a train station.

Despite never having met each other, the duo help each other to get back to their real destinations.

The film transports audiences to a jolly precinct, equally balanced with humour and seriousness.

This includes a photo where veils cover the missing brides, a street food stand at the train station, and learning tricks about farming.

Most of all, however, the movie has feminism at its heart. It is all about women breaking free from the shackles of their wedding veils to make something of themselves.

Feminism has undeniably been tackled multiple times in Bollywood, so Laapataa Ladies is not completely original. However, the funny story and the gratifying premise offer a dose of difference.

The pacing of the film does feel sluggish in places. How the brides get lost is perhaps slightly forced and certain parts of the movie can induce restlessness.

However, the script always manages to hold together despite certain moments of choppiness and hiccups.

As we approach the culmination of the story, viewers find themselves rooting for the resolution and applauding the ending.

By the time the ending credits roll, the audience leaves their seats with a smile beaming on their face and with a warm feeling of inspiration alight in their minds.

Relatable Characters and Charming Performances

The film is filled with characters with whom the audiences instantly connect with and amazing actors who give their best to the camera and bring them to life.

Laapataa Ladies details the journey of two brides. One is the timid Phool (Nitanshi Goel) and the other is the ambitious Jaya (Pratibha Ranta).

Viewers may recognise Nitanshi due to her immense social media following. She is something of a Snapchat celebrity, while Pratibha has worked largely in television.

Both actresses approach their roles as if they are veteran big-screen performers.

Nitanshi brings humour to the scenes where Phool runs off scared in several scenes.

Meanwhile, Pratibha infuses Jaya with grit, perseverance and steel.

Jaya educates people about farming, stands up for herself in the police station and she must also tell a hoard of lies to protect her dignity and her ambition.

Among the supporting cast, it could be easy for people to detest the scheming police officer Shyam Manohar (Ravi Kishan) or feel negatively about the street food stand owner Manju Maai (Chhaya Kadam).

In reality, these terrific actors imbibe relatability and charm to their characters.

Viewers instantly link to Manju Maai’s heart behind her strict demeanour and one wishes that they had a similar figure in their life to guide them on the straight and narrow.

Manohar seems like an antagonist throughout most of the film but his methods are so comedic that the audience cheers for him.

During the climax, he redeems himself to such a degree that it restores faith in the Indian police system.

Delving into these characters, Saibal Chatterjee from NDTV movies, comments:

“Ravi Kishan as the cop whose role in the story goes beyond just policing is terrific.”

“And what does one say of Chhaya Kadam? She radiates brilliance.”

A stand-out is Sparsh Srivastav as the loving Deepak, whose eyes radiate genuine emotion. Deepak is Phool’s husband and Jaya’s source of support and Sparsh pulls off both of these arcs with finesse and fervour.

The great performances will stay with you long after you’ve walked out of the cinema.

Repetitive and Forced Dialogue

'Laapataa Ladies' Review_ Kiran Rao Masters a Feminist Tale - Repetitive and Forced DialogueAs mentioned earlier, countless Bollywood films have themes of women empowerment.

These include Queen (2013), Pink (2016), and Veere Di Wedding (2018).

As a result, some of the dialogue in Laapataa Ladies seems like you’ve heard it several times before.

In a scene, Phool says: “Married women don’t say their husband’s name.”

While this is appropriate for Phool’s conservative nature, it is a connotation that some may groan at.

Anupama Chopra from Film Companion states: “There are scenes and dialogues that seem bunged in purely to make a point.”

Manju Maai expresses disdain at the contrast prevalent in toxic masculinity:

“A man who loves you has the right to hit you?”

While important, previous Bollywood films magnify this contrast through various lenses. Examples of such content include Thappad (2020) and Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022).

In another scene, a character remarks: “Her face is covered by a veil. A face is the entire identity of a person.”

This notion is the entire basis of Chhapaak (2020), which presents a distraught yet head-strong acid attack survivor contending with her damaged face.

Furthermore, Jaya’s resolve to educate herself and her mother preferring her to marry a rich guy is touched upon in Swades (2004) and the aforementioned Pink. 

Such dialogue makes the message of Kiran Rao’s film feel repetitive and tacked on.

The Music

'Laapataa Ladies' Review_ Kiran Rao Masters a Feminist Tale - The MusicRam Sampath returns to Aamir Khan Productions after the television show Satyamev Jayate and the suspense drama Talaash (2012).

In times when composers like Pritam, Amit Trivedi, and Mithoon are ruling the roost, it is refreshing to see a talent like Ram attain a chance at doing what he does best.

The music of the film is melodious and hummable. However, they slow the film down and do not add much to the narrative.

Anupama Chopra continues to say: “Ram Sampath’s music is melodious and enhances the rootedness of this world.

“But they don’t propel the narrative enough.”

In Bollywood, music is perhaps just as important as the story itself.

The songs of the film are unlikely to be remembered which can create a disconnect.

A highlight of the soundtrack is ‘Beda Paar‘, sung beautifully by Sona Mohapatra.

The song presents a montage of scenes that give a flavour to the film.

Similar tunes and beats are present throughout the album, emboldening Ram’s talent and grasp on melody.

Direction

'Laapataa Ladies' Review_ Kiran Rao Masters a Feminist Tale - DirectionWith this movie, Kiran Rao returns to the director’s chair 14 years after Dhobi Ghat (2010).

Laapataa Ladies indicates that Kiran has not lost her flair for weaving compelling drama around simple stories.

The director can capture the essence of women in such situations. She draws captivating performances from her cast and appears confident in herself as a leader of the team.

Under her guidance, cinematographer Vikash Nowlakha showcases gorgeous scenery and beautiful locations via a variety of camera angles.

Kiran is the ex-wife of superstar Aamir Khan. It is surprising to know that Aamir wished to star in this film.

The actor wanted to play Inspector Shyam Manohar.

On rejecting this idea, Kiran explains:

“Ravi Ji brings an incredible earthy flavour to the character that is instinctive and authentic, something that nobody else can bring.”

In another interview, Aamir agreed that it was best that he doesn’t appear in the film as the film would be burdened with expectations.

Kiran’s ingenuity shows how mature and proactive she is as a filmmaker. She should undoubtedly helm more films.

If Dhobi Ghat gives an introductory trace of the capable director Kiran is, this film definitely underscores it.

Laapaata Ladies is a sensitive, heart-warming portrayal of women in a rural setting.

Even if it does rely on ideas that have already been explored, the film touches a chord through its original story and relatable characters.

At a run-time of just over two hours, the film teeters between boring and rushed in places, but the tight script always brings it back.

The performances are splendid, with each actor bringing their stamp to the project.

The film deserves applause and recognition for its mastery in bringing to light the struggles and ambitions of women in an atmosphere dominated by patriarchy.

Don’t miss the chance to watch Laapataa Ladies on the big screen. Gather your family, buy some popcorn, and be prepared to smile and cheer.

Rating


Manav is a creative writing graduate and a die-hard optimist. His passions include reading, writing and helping others. His motto is: “Never hang on to your sorrows. Always be positive."

Image courtesy of YouTube, Box Office Adda, IMDB and Film Companion.






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