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'Laapata Ladies': Quirky tale rooted in reality

Back to directing films after a long hiatus, Kiran Rao discusses patriarchy, rigid practices, empowerment and entrepreneurship in her latest, a quirky social satire.
Last Updated 02 March 2024, 00:23 IST
Laapata Ladies
20242 hours
4/5
Director:Kiran Rao
Cast:Pratibha Ranta, Sparsh Shrivastava, Nitanshi Goel, Chhaya Kadam, Durgesh Kumar

Back to directing films after a long hiatus, Kiran Rao discusses patriarchy, rigid practices, empowerment and entrepreneurship in her latest, a quirky social satire.

Based on Biplab Goswami’s ‘Two Brides’, ‘Laapataa Ladies’ follows two newly wed brides who end up getting swapped on a train. The veil covering their face is the culprit but is hardly held responsible by the elders in the family.

While Phool Kumari (Nitanshi Goel), one of the brides, is on a desperate hunt to find her husband, the other, Pushpa (Pratibha Ranta), looks like she is up to something else. Her snarky replies like, “Here the names of places change with the government,” when asked for the name of her husband’s village, show she’s not dim-witted. What she is up to is the plot of the movie.

The film is set in the Hindi heartland, in 2001, when mobile phones were first introduced in India, making them a novelty, especially for those seeking dowry. Politicians making factually incorrect electoral speeches, the Bihari slang, inspector Manohar’s “uncle jokes” and the pace and the flow of the film make for an amusing watch. Fully developed characters are what makes the movie a win —  each and every character play a significant role.

As I write this I am reminded of a shot from Sreemoyee Singh’s documentary on Iranian cinema, poetry and politics, ‘And, Towards Happy Alleys’. In it, a young boy asks the presenter why her head is not fully covered. This further reminded me of my mother who was once questioned for not wearing a dupatta. The universal issue of patriarchy has been explored in ‘Laapataa Ladies’ with an eccentric narrative of brides getting swapped. But Kiran Rao doesn’t indulge in feminist sloganeering and monologues. She takes us on a comical journey towards empowerment.

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(Published 02 March 2024, 00:23 IST)

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