‘Ludo is life, life is Ludo’, a line quipped within five minutes by a crucial character sets the premise of filmmaker Anurag Basu’s deliciously entertaining Netflix film, ‘Ludo’. Alike the game, the plot revolves around four parallel storylines which will intertwine as per the directions laid by the dice.
Bittu (Abhishek A Bachchan) is the right-hand man of a dreaded criminal, who is hurting from being separated from his wife and daughter due to his misdeeds. He finds a chance at redemption which would require him to kidnap a young girl (Inayat Verma).
Alok Kumar Gupta aka Aalu (Rajkummar Rao), an acting aspirant who runs a Mithun Chakraborty-inspired diner, is willing to move mountains for his childhood love Pinky (Fatima Sana Shaikh), when she is confronted with an ugly situation.
An accidental sex tape might serve as the route to self-discovery for Akash (Aditya Roy Kapur) and Shruti (Sanya Malhotra).
The mundane existence of Rahul Avasthi (Rohit Saraf) and Shreeja Thomas (Pearle Maaney) might just get more lopsided for the better.
Their fates will be decided by ganglord Sattu Bhaiyya (Pankaj Tripathi), who is on the hunt for a loaded suitcase.
Written by Basu, who is also credited with production design and cinematography, ‘Ludo’ excels in the technical department. The aesthetics and settings ensure that the motifs of the game are retained in the storytelling. Each subplot is represented by one of the four colours, which dictate the set design and the emotions of the characters. For instance, Bittu represents the red token, red being the colour of passion, love and anger. It’s a smart story-telling move by Basu. The dialogues by Samrat Chakraborty leave you giggling till your sides hurt, yet prompt you to think about the ambiguity that lies in between the sinner and the saint, between sins and deeds. Shot by Rajesh Shukla and edited by Ajay Sharma, Pritam’s chart-busting music adds further heft to the plot.
The icing on the cake are the top-notch performances by the ensemble cast. Leading the pack is Tripathi as the local don who is dreadful yet humane. Some of the film’s most outstanding and hilarious moments feature him and Shalini Vatsa as his nurse. Chances are likely that you’d find yourself crackling even before he nudges. The chemistry between Abhishek and Inayat’s characters will leave you beaming and maybe, choked. Rajkummar shines as the local Romeo, striking the balance between being over the top and endearing. Aditya imbues his character with the right amount of charm and naivety, ensuring one of his earnest acts in recent memory. Fatima and Sanya make you care for Pinky and Shruti despite their obviously selfish motives. Rohit and Pearly bring an everyman innocence and street-smartness to their parts.
With ‘Ludo’, Basu undoes the errors that accompanied with ‘Jagga Jasoos’. In the adverse times we are living through, the film guarantees plenty of laughs and a ray of hope.
‘Ludo’ is now streaming on Netflix.