Netflix’s latest offering as their original feature film, Ludo the eponymous board game which everyone as a child would have played. Lately it seems to have caught on the fancy of young and old alike in it’s online Avatar. It sounds like an unlikely name for a movie and does aroused curiosity.
Ludo, the movie juxtaposes this game as and with the game of life. One gets excited and is expectant to see something different or new, as for the last few offerings on the various OTT platforms are anything but entertaining or even vaguely logical. It seems that the makers set out to make something good with the kind of themes and story ideas at their disposal but somewhere in the intervening period they lose their way and the story meanders and hurtles towards its climax. Same is the case with Ludo, it starts out with high expectations as a bearded Anurag Basu (the director of the movie) and his sidekick descend upon the screen with a briefcase.
One feels some kind of Gangland exchange is going to happen but they turn out to be the Sutradharas and their conversation takes us forward to a floating Mafia den helmed by Sattu (Pankaj Tripathi) and his wacky gang. We are introduced to four sets of tales which are explained away as the four players of this game of Ludo. Though not interconnected but they keep crossing each other’s paths as Sattu is the common thread or the canvas on which their existence hinges and who has the power to control them.
The story keeps shifting from one set of players to another, in the process bumping into each other as on the ludo board and inflicting back to square one to each other. It finally boils down to the climax where all the four stories converge on a common ground literally and what follows is that different fate is handed over to different team. Some get just rewards and some just perish. And what about Sattu the unbreakable, the master controller of the pieces he is having a time of his life despite being the villain of the piece so what is the moral of story Live and Let die?
Now let’s talk about the teams and the characters there in:
First, the yellow corner of the board : The Akash and Shruti story i.e. Aditya Roy Kapoor and Sanya Malhotra. A goldigger falls for a struggler and their love story goes viral, it has to be reversed, so who best but apna Sattu bhai who will lend a hand. Kapoor is maturing as an actor but still retains his cockiness. Sanya displays right amount of chutzpah. The ventriloquist doll is the highlight.
Second, in the green corner : Alok and Pinky story i.e. Rajkumar Rao and Fatima Sana Shaikh. A lovelorn majnu gyped in love by his paramour is forced at the hands of his heart to put in his all to save his beloved’s family in trouble due th Sattu. Is ultimately rewarded by fate. Rajkumar is in top form mimicking Mithun and sporting a different look. Fatima is unable to shake off her pehelwan looks and even as a guntotting moll in minis does not evoke any desire.
Third the Red Corner: The Bittu story i.e. Abhishek Bachhan, the loser. Solitarily carry’s on to give succor to his friend turned rival who has usurped his family, wife and all from him. Is the only one to be handed tragedy by fate. Bachhan shows absolute restraint and gives a fitting performance as the role demands.
Fourth the blue corner is the story of Rahul and Shreeja I.e. Rohit Saraf and Pearle Maaney. It is an unnecessary interlude but the fate is kindest to them as they finally realise their dreams of becoming millionaires a la Lootcase and Waisa bhi hota hai part II. Not much acting to their credit though they hog a lot of footage.
Finally we come to the granddad himself i.e. Sattu or Pankaj Tripathi who lives the Gita shloka of being indestructible only here we are not talking about his soul but his body (the soul is forever lost). With guns tied on his thighs a la femme Nikita under his lungi he and his gang act as the irritant louts but also the common thread that binds the narrative. Pankaj is in his usual laid back style and now we have seen him one too many times in the last 2-3 years. It seems he and Nawazuddin are the only character artists and dons left in the industry.
Here are some final observations, the female characters in all the four stories are shown the manipulative ones, even the child who plans her own kidnap has a hardened Bittu wrapped round her fingers. The male protagonists are their saviors, how naive. LUDO finale at the end of its running time of 150 minutes gives us the parting kick as the Director and his sidekick are depicted as dhan-ta-dan….Yama and Chitragupta, well, well, well……so much for the mytho.
– By PAWAN GUPTA
Cast of LUDO:
Abhishek Bachchan as Bittu Tiwari
Aditya Roy Kapur as Akash Chauhan
Rajkummar Rao as Alu Gupta
Rohit Suresh Saraf as Rahul Awasthi
Pankaj Tripathi as Sattu Tripathi
Fatima Sana Shaikh as Pinky Jain
Sanya Malhotra as Shruti Choksi
Pearle Maaney as Sheeja Thomas
Inayat Verma as Mini
Paritosh Tripathi as Manohar Jain
Credits of LUDO:
Production Company – T-Series, Anurag Basu Productions, Ishana Movies
Directed by Anurag Basu
Produced by Bhushan Kumar, Anurag Basu, Deepshika Bose
Written by Anurag Basu and Samrat Chakraborty
Narrated by Anurag Basu
Music by Pritam
Cinematography – Anurag Basu, Rajesh Shukla
Edited by Ajay Sharma