Anurag Basu’s latest ‘Ludo,’ dropped on Netflix recently. Following the usual Basu tropes, this movie too succeeds in making the audience feel a strange sense of contentment amidst the chaos created on screen. Much like his earlier movies, ‘Ludo’ depends heavily on muted cinematography and eccentric characters. With an ensemble cast consisting of Abhishek Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Rajkumar Rao, Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Pankaj Tripathi, Rohit Saraf, Pearle Maaney and Pankaj Tripathi, the movie delivers in terms of performance and direction both. The story follows four stories intersecting through various points. All the stories have an immense heart in them. They tug at the right emotions and tickle the correct bones. Moreover, the four stories never make the audience feel forced or bored.
Aditya Roy Kapoor and Sanya Malhotra grapple with a resurfaced sex tape. Rajkumar Rao and Fatima Shaikh struggle with the emotions of unrequited love. Abhishek Bachchan has been surprising audiences with his performance on OTT platforms. From ‘Breathe: Into the Shadows’ to ‘Ludo,’ he brings a massive range. In the movie he plays an aggrieved father, trying to come to terms with the people from his past. Rohit Saraf and Pearle Maaney bring a strange sparkle every time they appear on the screen. They play two young people who are unsure of themselves. However, an almost fateful meeting changes the situation for them. The characters are played to perfection by the actors. Pankaj Tripathi as a peculiar gangster captures much of the audience’s attention when he appears on the screen.
‘Ludo’ is a movie which tries to philosophize about the concepts of karma but falters on that front. Basu fails to deliver subtlety in terms of the didactic nature of the movie. Through premonitions and an overarching titular motif, the direction sometimes drifts towards being too moralistic. Two characters played by Basu himself and Rahul Bagga ponder upon what counts as good karma and bad karma. Their conversation begins with a literal fire explosion and ends on an almost similar note. Tying themes of the butterfly effect with the dice used to play Ludo, Basu is clever in making use of his philosophy. However, the philosophy which seems to be the predominant theme of the movie becomes secondary due to the brilliance of the otherwise engaging script.
Basu effectively evokes dark humour through the predicament of the characters in the movie. The humour is heavily dependent on dialogue delivery and situational comedy. Even in the most dramatic of moments, the characters end up making the viewers smile. The movie is never too disturbing despite its serious themes. There is murder, voyeurism, kidnapping and minor violence. Nonetheless, the stories intertwine beautifully to create an atmosphere of pleasure and joy. The songs are placed in an almost poetic way. Never out of place and always adding to the scene.
The viewers should go into the movie knowing close to nothing. Only then will the movie come as a pleasant surprise and a warm gift in these troubling times. After having watched the movie once, the audience would want to relive the experience of watching it for the first time again. Moreover, the viewers would find themselves humming to ‘o beta ji’ almost unconsciously. Watch ‘Ludo’ streaming on Netflix to get a taste of serenity.