Mayank Shekhar's review: Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl

By Hindustan Times

Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl
Director: Manesh Sharma
Actors: Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma
Rating: ***

“Sunny had made a clever plan. Daddy, you could’ve been careful too,” explains the Punjabi pampered daughter to her disturbed old father. She says it in a way that only a rich, spoilt girl from a family, which also pretty much cons for a living, could. The girl’s Dimple. Her Papaji, pot-bellied Dilliwallah in the construction line (pun intended), has just been duped by her boyfriend Sunny. To be fair, the boy had laid a decent trap, convincing his girlfriend of being the ousted owner of a bungalow on the posh Barakhamba Road.

The father got the old tenants of that disputed property to clear out. He struck a deal with the boy, who’d sell him the property for a pittance. The boy ran away with the Rs 20 lakh cash advance. Adorably dumb Dimple (Parineeti Chopra; spontaneous, spunky for the part) still says Sunny and her made for a great jodi (pair)! This is when she doesn’t yelp, “lol, lol” I didn’t know that was already a spoken word. It should become, after this film. Okay, most of us won’t say it.

Sunny’s moved on. The film captures his future escapades. He cheats a smart exec (Dipannita Sharma) with a fake Hussain for her new office. He’d already conned a cloth merchant (Aditi Sharma) before, showing her dad, sample of a neat embroidery work. His current score at the game is 30. What’s common between all his victims, they’re all reasonably impressionable women. His research and mode of operation is still hard to figure, besides that he never tries to seem he’s trying too hard. Which is probably true for all conmen.

Three of his preys, the women mentioned above, from completely different backgrounds, having connected with each other somehow, gang up to teach him a lesson, and hopefully get some of their money back. This is a full-on female power flick, in that sense. Hence, Ladies Versus Ricky Bahl. The ladies could have informed the police. But that would alert the conman to go underground. Corporate exec (Deepanita) is the mother hen, they hatch a plot, hire another girl (Anushka Sharma) to dupe the fraudster instead. It’s an endearing twist.

The young Ranveer Singh plays Ricky Bahl, his character’s real name, which we don’t know yet. Given almost all Bollywood leading men now are forced to play proper characters (something they used to back in the 1950s), as against portray merely themselves: a back-story might become slightly necessary. We know nothing about the motivations of this conman, besides what we see: he is single, looks like a loner, is pretty much sexually uninterested in the women he takes for a ride, and is interested in money for money’s sake. Placement of this kind of guy was handled much better in Yashraj’s previous, similar flick, Badmaash Company (2010), which had suffered for completely other reasons.

The set-up here is enjoyable still. You know the payoff will be an issue. The audience gets an excuse to travel across LKO (Lucknow), DEL, BOM, GOA, the hero gets to play the crooks Iqbal, Sunny, Devesh, Diego. While his locations and phones change, his cellphone’s ringtone remains the same. It’s always the filmy dialogue, “Haarke Jeetne Wale Ko Baazigar Kehte Hain.” It helps the girls track him down.

The line of course refers to a flirty, villainous role Shah Rukh Khan had risked with Baazigar (1993). Plenty of heroes have wished to play SRK since. The one here’s no exception.

Opposite Anushka Sharma, he’d made his debut last year with Band Baaja Baraat, which was largely admired for sweetly bringing out the nuances of the real Delhi, along with that super track (Ainvayi Ainvayi), of course. The actor had seemed too desperate (or despo, as Dimple might say) in that picture, as in public life thereafter; it’s always a turn-off.

The two pair up here again. The male character’s obviously kept himself well preserved for the leading lady. You figure they’ll get together, never sure why or how the girl would fall for a confirmed, multi-crore fraudster, who should be in jail. Some more fine-tuning could’ve helped. This is when the commercially inevitable takes precedence over satisfactory explanations.

At worst, the film remains then a yawn inducing, half explained romance; at best, it’s an effortless watch all the way.

Bollywood.com Rating: 2.5

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