Laapataa Ladies Review: Kiran Rao's directorial comeback is a slap on patriarchy with deep-impacting performances

Film: Laapataa Ladies

Cast: Ravi Kishan, Nitanshi Goel, Sparsh Shrivastava, Pratibha Ranta

Director: Kiran Rao

Rating: 3.5 Moons

A newlywed couple, bustling with joy and enthusiasm to start a new chapter in life, is hit with a weird circumstance. In Kiran Rao's second directorial, Laapataa Ladies, the groom Deepak (Sparsh Shrivastava) is married to Phool (Nitanshi Goel), a naive young girl from a small village. Set in Nirmal Pradesh, brides are expected to keep their faces covered with ghunghat (veil) and this leads to a life-changing exchange. Deepak accidentally brings home Pushpa (Pratibha Ranta) instead of Phool as there were many ghunghat-clad women on the train. The search for Phool begins.

Writer Sneha Desai gives birth to a unique yet unpretentious world with Laapataa Ladies. Rooted in Indian culture, the film offers a progressive take through the female gaze. On one hand, there's the innocent, simple and pure Phool who navigates through the maze of life. Deepak makes for the perfect 'green flag'. The sweetness is broken by the spicy Pushpa adding flavours to a layered concept. This unique 'triangle' questions patriarchy, ghunghat system, and regressive thoughts while giving wings to dreams, ambitions and love. 

Smashing the notion of women-against-women, Sneha and director Kiran weave a beautiful scene between Pushpa and Deepak's sister-in-law where they are shown bonding over their creative instincts. Deepak's mother asks her mother-in-law whether they can be friends too. The optimism in the simplest of dialogues speaks the loudest. While it might not take the story forward, it does add weight to the world-building. 

Sneha's writing has a soothing blend of humour and drama. The crescendo shoots from a hilarious entertainer to a heart-touching revelation that's not anticipated. The surprise elements might seem simple but it's effective. Kiran nails the art of simplicity with a dash of subtle drama. Characters in Laapataa Ladies step out of the screen to talk to you. Different from urban life, the film still connects because of the clean storytelling, relatable dialogues and a powerful conclusion that brings out the best performances from the cast, especially Ravi Kishan and Pratibha. 

Laapataa Ladies makes you wonder where was Kiran Rao all these years! Her perspective on telling a story is progressive, hard-hitting, yet entertaining. Striking the right balance with a film like Laapataa Ladies could have been a task but Kiran does it perfectly without getting preachy. She shapes the story to fit every age group and pays an ode to the women in our lives who are the wind beneath the wings. 

One of the iconic characters of Laapataa Ladies is played by Ravi Kishan. As cop Shyam, he adds comic relief in the first half. The second half is a testament to the phenomenal actor that he is. Without being heavy on the mind, he delivers a poignant climax that sums up the entire chase. Ravi is the pillar of support on which Laapataa Ladies rests majorly.

Nitanshi Goel as Phool is as tender and delicate as a flower. She is effortlessly good in her character and delivers a strong performance. Her innocence speaks to you and melts your heart. Nitanshi transforms into Phool as if it is her second skin. Sparsh is magical as Deepak. The pain of missing his lost wife and his hunt for Phool will break your heart into millions of pieces. His charming smile and seamless act has a deep impact. Pratibha is a revelation. She is spicy, fierce, and rock-solid as Pushpa. A rebel by nature, Pushpa gets her voice from Pratibha's talent and makes you connect to the character instantly. 

Laapataa Ladies smashes patriarchy, imparts a lesson and assures women to never stop dreaming. An entry into this Nirmal Pradesh is a must with all the 'ladies' in the family.