Ludo Review (SPOILERS): Love Conquers All

This movie is super fun and surprising, you will really enjoy watching it without knowing what is going to happen. So just relax and know it is generally a happy ending, watch the movie, then come back her to discuss it AFTER you have seen it.

Whole plot in 5 stories:

Aditya Roy Kapur is a voice actor and ventriloquist comic who sees a sex video WhatsApp forward, and realizes it is him in the video with his ex-girlfriend Sanya who is now engaged. He asks his lawyer brother for help, they go to the police who inform them that since his face isn’t shown in the video, only Sanya’s, Sanya has to file the complaint. He goes to talk to Big Gangster Pankaj Tripathi for help, but in a random accident, Pankaj’s hide out is blown up while he is there. So he tracks down Sanya and shows her the video. She is angry with him at first, then comes around and goes to the police with him. We flashback to their romance, they met through a matrimonial website, but once Sanya realized he wasn’t rich and successful, she started using him as a friend with benefits instead. They hung out and had sex for months while she went on formal meetings with respectable prospective grooms. And when ARK brought up the possibility that they should admit they love each other and be together for real, Sanya shut him down. Now it is months later and she is engaged to a “perfect” groom and needs to protect the engagement and get the video taken down. The police give them camera tracking equipment and tell them to check out the hotels where they stayed and identify which one has cameras, then call them. ARK and Sanya drive around and bond and end up getting drunk and sleeping together again. Then her groom shows up. He turns out to be totally understanding, he saw the video, understands that ARK is with her to help her track it down and get it taken away, he says he doesn’t care and feels bad that she has been so worried. And then all the plotlines come together and there is a big shoot out, ARK is shot, wakes up in the hospital, and comes home to find Sanya waiting, she has canceled the wedding and wants to be with him.

Rajkummar Rao is a former low level thug who now runs a small restaurant. Since childhood he has had a crush on neighbor girl Fatima Sana Sheikh. Fatima married a respectable man a year ago and now has a baby, but Rajkummar still loves her. Fatima’s husband is wrongfully arrested, she goes to talk to him, and he says his alibi is his mistress, he was having an affair. Fatima goes to Rajkummar for help talking to the mistress. The mistress demands money before she will testify. Rajkummar and Fatima have a plan to trick some corrupt cops to give them a pay off for the mistress. It goes wrong when Fatima freaks out and starts shooting. They get the money, but it’s not enough, so Rajkummar takes all his savings to pay the mistress. And then she steals it and still doesn’t testify. Now Fatima asks Rajkummar to help her break her husband out of jail. They have him fake a sickness to get him in a hospital and break him out of the hospital. Rajkummar sends Fatima off with her husband, and only after they are driving away, the husband starts insulting Fatima and Rajkummar and even their baby. She finally snaps and shoots him. She goes to Rajkummar for help again, and shows him the body in the trunk. In the end they are a happy family, her and Rajkummar and her baby.

Abhishek Bachchan was just released from jail after 6 years, a former killer working for gangster Pankaj Tripathi. While he was in jail, his wife remarried and his baby daughter was raised believing her stepfather was her father. To try to force Abhishek to work for him again, Pankaj calls in a loan from the stepfather. The stepfather offers that if Abhishek can find the money to pay back the loan, he can meet his daughter. Abhishek runs into a little girl, Inayat Verma, who is running away from home. She has faked her kidnapping and asks him for help. He calls her father and asks for the amount of the loan as a ransom. He gets the money, pays the stepfather, but barely gets to see his daughter. He realizes his whole life is worthless, his daughter is far better off without him, Inayat is with her parents and doesn’t need him any more, and it is all because Pankaj turned him in and sent him to jail. He tracks down Pankaj and gets caught up in the final shoot out and dies.

Pankaj Tripathi is a big gangster boss, scary but not really sadistic or super evil. His hide out blows up and he survives and ends up in the hospital. He is terrible and rude to all the nurses, until finally the head nurse comes and yells at him. They end up forming a surprising bond, sharing secret cigarettes. And then he sees the doctor molest her, and in vengeance beats him up, and their relationship is sealed. He escapes the hospital along with Fatima’s husband and waits for the nurse at her car. She drives him to the hotel where his gang and money is, he gets caught in the final shoot out, somehow survives that too, tracks down the nurse again along with all his money that his gang was collecting. Then is hit by a bus. But, in a surprise at the end, he survived that! And he and the nurse are happily dancing together with him in a wheel chair.

Finally, most boring story, Rohit Suresh Suraf is a minor employee at a mall. He sleeps in the parking garage because he can’t afford rent in Bombay, and is constantly belittled by his boss. He ends up witnessing a killing Pankaj carries out and is kidnapped by Pankaj as a witness, but not killed because Pankaj likes him. He is caught up in the explosion at Pankaj’s hide out and ends up in the ambulance with Pankaj and lonely Malayalam nurse Pearle Maaney (she isn’t fluent in Hindi or English and so can’t talk to anyone in Bombay, including Rohit) and Pankaj’s suitcase of money. Pankaj pulls a gun on them, then the ambulance is in an accident and Pearle grabs the suitcase and Rohit and escapes. Pankaj survives and tracks them down, Pearle and Rohit push him off a bridge and take the money. They get a hide out and clean the money and put it back in the suitcase. Next day, they both confront their nasty bosses at work and run away from their jobs to the hide out where Pankaj’s thugs have already tracked them down. They escape together and go on a buying spree, then on the run again. Rohit writes her a love note but she can’t read it because it is in Hindi. He goes to translate it to Malayalam, but comes back to find her dancing with someone else and gets angry and she doesn’t understand. The next morning, she finds the note, just as Pankaj’s thugs track them down again. They fight towards each other again and manage to survive the shoot out and still keep some of the money. At the end, they are happily riding in a fancy car with fancy clothes, together.

Sorry, that is a LOT of plot!!! But then, this film just has a lot of plot. All the stories are really the same though. Guy is focused on his own life and problems, guy makes a connection with a woman, guy realizes that he needs to get out of his own life and think about the woman he loves, guy shifts to having no pride or ego in helping the woman he loves, guy is rewarded for this behavior.

Ludo First Look: Abhishek Bachchan, Rajkummar Rao collaborate with Anurag  Basu for their next film; Read Deets | PINKVILLA

The only unhappy ending is Abhishek, and that is because he has no more role to play in the world, there is no one who needs him. The framework for this movie is two Gods of death playing Ludo and talking. At the end of the film, they explain that it’s not about Sin or Virtue to decide who dies and when and where they go, it’s about not being finished with all they have to do. Abhishek dies because he has nothing left to do. But Pankaj survives, over and over again, because he has to meet, and then unite, with his nice nurse lady.

The ultimate message of the film, that people (especially men) need to learn to put other people first, only works because each individual story is SO GOOD. We start with ARK and Sanya, and the set-up of a romance that begins because they are forced together by their sex tape. That story alone, I am ready to watch a whole film about! There’s the great unusual attitude of “yeah, so what, we had sex and aren’t ashamed to go to the police or do whatever else is needed just to get the video taken down so it won’t mess with her engagement”. And there’s the classic romance set-up of the two people forced back together, but with a really unusual reason for it. And they are all like that! Abhishek as this big tough thug who is so gentle and safe and kind to a little girl, Pankaj and his tough nurse, Rajkummar as this hopeless young dope in love with Fatima just trying to get her life put back together, and so on. Each story (except the boring Rohit-Pearle one), I would have happily watched as a whole film. But the filmmakers double-downed and said “we aren’t just going to have ONE great story, we are going to have 4 of them!”

Each story is totally different, but also the same. It’s a man thinking about his own life (ARK working on his career, Rajkummar in love with Fatima, Pankaj wanting his money back, Abhishek wanting his daughter back), and then reaching out to help a woman because it’s a basically decent thing to do (ARK taking responsibility for his part in the sex tape, Rajkummar doing Fatima a favor, Pankaj helping the nurse he likes, Abhishek being kind of a little girl who is lost), and finally coming to a point when it is no longer about just doing the “decent” thing, but about going above and beyond that.

That turning point happens when the plot reaches a point where you would think the female characters should be punished for being “bad”. Sanya is openly out for a rich husband. She is hiding this sex tape so she can still marry her rich groom and that’s all she wants. Fatima us openly using Rajkummar’s sacrificial love for her to get her husband back because she wants security and a “good” marriage. Inayat even, she is only faking her kidnaping to make her parents love her, she is being a “bad” little girl. But then the film reaches that point and instead of the woman being forced to admit her evilness and be “better”, instead of Fatima apologizing for destroying Rajkummar’s life, or Sanya for wanting a rich husband, they don’t apologize, they just keep going with what they need in life and the heroes accept that these women are not perfect and they love them anyway.

It’s just such a satisfying movie! I kept waiting for a hero to do something I didn’t like, or for a heroine to convert to being “better”, and instead it was a message of total acceptance and sacrifice. And it ends so happily! Not because the heroes are “rewarded” with getting the woman they love, but because the women realize that their happiness would be in staying with the men who love them. That’s why Abhishek has to die, he is not good for the women in his life, it is not a happy ending to have him raise his daughter or be with Inayat, they are better off without him.

And the ending isn’t a surprise, really. By about a third into the movie I realized “wait, this whole thing is a false front, none of the complications are really complications, you just have to accept the situation”. Sanya and ARK have to take down the sex video so it won’t end her engagement, but if they just accept they are meant to be together, no problem! If Fatima just lets her husband stay in jail and accepts Rajkummar, no problem! And so on and so forth. It’s a movie where a lot of stuff “happens” but ultimately it’s just an internal journey. The only way it could end happily is if the characters don’t change their minds, if the men gave up on the women for being difficult, or if the women never made up their minds about who is really right for them. That’s what I was most worried about, not that anything would go “wrong” exactly, because the obstacles were made up, but that the characters would just not be smart enough.

And then it all worked out! Yes, this is just a delightful film, and you should all watch it, and relax because it ends happily.

And if you have already seen it, let me know which story is your favorite. It’s very close for me, but I think Pankaj and Nurse end up on top for me.

44 thoughts on “Ludo Review (SPOILERS): Love Conquers All

  1. I really didn’t like it. I couldn’t care less about almost any of the characters (poor man and woman, can’t remember their names, and Abishek/little girl excepted). I would have liked Rajkummar’s character if he wasn’t a Nice Guy. I know they tried to subvert his Nice Guyness but it didn’t work for me. It’s just a bunch of men menning around and getting happy endings, why???

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      • Oh well, it was to be expected. In a normal year, I might not have watched it, or only watched a bit of it, but I really wanted some new stuff.

        Pankaj’s character was extremely offputting to me, so no. I wanted him to die so badly and he never did. I liked Abishek though. I also liked that woman who played Jaz in Made in Heaven. ARK looked good but annoyed me too much to look at him.

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        • Was the woman who played Jazz in this? I can’t find her in the credits. Which character are you thinking about?

          On Sat, Nov 14, 2020 at 3:48 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Thanks for the review. I get most of it now (Gods of Death! so that’s who they were.) But I have to agree with Popka, I didn’t really care about any of the characters except maybe Abhishek altho he cried too much. And as to the women, as far as accepting them warts and all, their continued nastiness and conviction that it was just fine, irritated me. I did watch it to the end not because I wanted to see how t turned out but because of Aditya’s abs and Pankaj’s superb acting. He can do no wrong.

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  3. I thought it was great fun, and imagine the actors had great fun, too. Pankaj is the BEST. I laughed out loud several times towards the end. These intertwined complex stories are fast becoming an obsession with me.

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    • Yaaaaay! So glad someone else enjoyed it, I was beginning to feel all alone.

      On Sat, Nov 14, 2020 at 3:35 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Alas I’m on the didn’t like it bench. It was the editing that killed it for me. Just when I was getting interested in one story I’d get yanked into an entirely different story. The result was I just didn’t care about anyone too much. I thought the performances were uniformly terrific, including Abhi who really should continue down this indie path, it suits him. Actors were fine, the writing in the individual scenes was fine, cinematography was gorgeous but the narrative and editing killed it for me.

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    • Noooo! Why does no one else like this movie???? Oh well, at least you appreciated Abhi.

      On Sat, Nov 14, 2020 at 8:10 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I LOVED it! But I don’t think Abishek died because he had nothing left to do, he died protecting his daughter. Pankaj was never going to let him go, he straight out said (according to subtitles) that he would use his family to get to him. So Abishek HAD to kill Pankaj to save his daughter, even if it meant dying himself.

    I thought Rajkummar was just tremendous. I loved him, loved his body, his dancing, his crying. I also loved his love interest, she was kinda stony faced, but in this film it worked. And the head nurse! She was so fantastic, Pankaj was fantastic, I adored the murderous swine. Honestly Abishek was the weak link in the acting, but he has presence, even with a permanent scowl.

    It was so wonderful to see something fun and fresh. I even loved your boring couple, the silent ones. I loved the gang of criminals chasing after them. I loved that Pankaj COULD NOT DIE! The story I was least involved in was Aditya Roy Kapur’s but I have to say he was HOT! And his love interest was great. I’m so glad I saw it. Thank you for reviewing it.

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    • FINALLY! Someone else who liked it!!!

      Okay, your explanation for Abhishek makes way more sense. I was thinking he gave in to vengeance and anger, which seemed like an odd ending to his story. But the explanation that he was trying to make sure Pankaj left his family alone makes sense. And his death does that as much as Pankaj’s death, so he still succeeded.

      Yes! If Rajkummar’s performance works for you, the whole film will work. He was so over the top, and his love interest was so under the top it worked perfectly for me.

      And yes! Fun and fresha nd different.

      Oh, did you notice that ARK’s love interest and Rajkummar’s interest were Sanya and Fatima from Dangal? So they are in a movie together again, but never have a scene together 🙂

      On Sun, Nov 15, 2020 at 12:37 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I had no idea they were the Dangal girls! And looking at their bios they are only born one month apart yet in Dangal they totally look different ages. Funny biology.

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  6. I liked this… It was different… I don’t enjoy some stories but sanya n ak i liked best…. Sanya just is so refreshing to watch…

    I agree about the weakest story being the silent one… Also I just couldn’t get kaleen bhaiya out of my mind coz saw mirzapur a while back so pankaj I couldn’t enjoy much…

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  7. I really enjoyed it! I was wary going in because I haven’t liked the other Anurag Basu movies I’ve seen but this was a lot of fun!

    I think you were right that Rohit Suresh Suraf’s story is the weakest but i think that his story could have been more fun if the actor playing this character was someone with more charisma. Or even someone who had more chemistry with Pearle Maaney would have made the story much more fun.

    I think my favorite story was Rajkummar’s but i thought all of them were pretty interesting. Fatima’s baby was so cute though! Babu was my favorite

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    • Fatima’s baby was SO cute!!!! And I love that the turning point for her was when the husband rejected even the baby. If it was a less cute baby, we might have thought that Rajkummar was a saint for loving him, but instead Rajkummar just seems human and the husband is HORRIBLE.

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      • yeah, it seemed like by the end Fatima only wanted her husband back because he was the baby’s father and then he couldn’t even be a father which was the final straw for her. i think her husband was the worst character in all the stories. I was actually expecting Sanya Malhotra’s fiancee to end up being a terrible rich person but it turns out he was a decent guy.

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  8. I liked Rohit in this, lol. I think he gets overlooked in every film I’ve seen him in (Dear Zindagi, The Sky Is Pink) in part because he usually gets supporting roles. but he and Pearle (and Inayat) stole the show for me. They’re awkwardly endearing together, and the fact that the woman was the older one in their dynamic was something I found interesting.
    He’s young yet (born in 1996), but he holds a lot of promise, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him in Mismatched. I think it’s first show in which he’s THE lead.
    Acting wise, I think Fatima was the biggest pleasant surprise for me. I had a hunch that Aditya would be good in this- he’s always best when he gets to be a little goofy onscreen- but I’d dismissed her after the TOH debacle, and I think she may make me eat my words the way Shraddha did.
    Also, Inayat is stupidly cute. Just look at her in this video! Seems like the whole cast had a ball filming this.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUv6Z-8LBRU

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    • Inayat is SO cute! And I was happy to see that even her co-stars lost it a bit over her cuteness. Fatima didn’t surprise me that much, I think because I was thinking of her pre-Dangal and Thugs stuff. You know she is the oldest girl in One 2 Ka 4? She is amazing in that! And she was also pretty good as the “chubby friend” in Akaash Vaani. She has a real natural feeling onscreen.

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  9. The name of the actress playing the nurse is Shalini Vatsa.

    And yes, this movie was a lot of fun. Sincere sentiment and zany hilarity in all the right doses.

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  10. I took some days but I finally finished it. And I liked it a lot. It’s a surprise because I thought it’s not my kind of film, but it was done well, the stories were interesting, emotional, funny, a pleasure to watch.

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    • I am so glad you liked it! I was hoping you would watch it if only because it finally gives you the Pankaj romance you have been wanting.

      On Fri, Nov 20, 2020 at 2:39 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I had to watch it for ARK and Sanya, but if I can be honest their story wasn’t my favourite. I mean, I liked them and the story, but Pankaj, Abhishek and Rajkummar stories were better. Abhi broke my heart few times. I loved seeing him with the little girl.
        The best part of the movie IMO was that the actors had so much to do, and I’m sure it was fun for them to play those crazy characters (the sam in Taish)

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        • Abhi was so good with the little girl! I want to see him do more stuff with kids, he had a wonderful chemistry with her.

          On Fri, Nov 20, 2020 at 3:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I was sure he will stay with the little girl, because he will discover she’s his daughter Ruhi (after he had been arrested, the mother was penniless and desperate and gave her to adoption. The movie is so crazy it’s possible; or maybe I have seen too many telenovelas 😉 )

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          • Oh, I would have loved that!!! I was trying to figure out a happy ending and I couldn’t make it work, but this idea would have been perfect.

            On Fri, Nov 20, 2020 at 4:32 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  11. I actually enjoyed it a lot. I thought it had a very Rohit Shetty vibe with the fights and blasts and so many car crashes! Rajkumar was so freaking adorable in this, but I’ll be honest, too good for Fatima. I wanted to bitch-slap her for being stupid! I loved the Abhishek storyline – the matching shirt and dress KILLED me, but I was sad there was so little of it and then they offed him. He deserved the happiest ending of all. Sanya always distracts me when I see her because she reminds me so much of an Indian Nancy Travis – facial expressions and all. It’s weird. And ARK is distracting cause, well it’s ARK! I did appreciate Pankaj, he was amusing, but he needed to be deaded, ya know, cause he really was a bad guy.

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  12. I enjoyed this too, though I’m with Alisa in that it felt like it kept us on the surface and I wanted more from some of the stories. I wasn’t a fan of the framing device. It pulled me out of the movie and the beginning where the characters set up as different colored pieces felt a little hokey. Would have preferred the Ludo references more embedded and no omniscient narrators. It was a fun watch, though. It’s funny seeing everyone else’s comments, we all attached to different stories. For me, I loved ARK and Sanya. I liked the characters and the plotline, she was great, and he did that Shahid thing where he’s beautiful and charming but somehow feels more real than the other people onscreen. (Pulling that off even with a puppet is a real feat.) His character stuck with me the most afterward, I think it’s because of how honest he is, with himself and Sanya – like that scene where he says he didn’t look her up because he imagined her turning into a fake trophy wife, he played that so well.

    Pankaj is always great, and this was a character he could go all in on, and the nurse was a twist I did not see coming. She made his character more interesting, without her he’s just your usual scary crime boss. He did seem like he should die, but I can appreciate how the movie played with our expectations, and the ending felt good. Abhishek’s story was just sad. Inayat was adorable, my new favorite kid actor, but Abhishek barely got to smile, and the way he treated his family you could see why his wife might try to erase him. Rajkummar was very entertaining but his character was kind of a cartoon. Even though I liked him and Fatima together, I didn’t want more of them. I felt mostly the same about Rohit and Pearle, except I did actually want a little more about them. I don’t think you can blame them for being the couple that can’t speak to each other, that makes it much harder to make an impact, and the one scene at the bar where he’s supposed to show he’s in love wasn’t set up all that great. But the money laundering scene was hilarious, the immediate complicity, and their escapes and chases kept literally moving the plot forward. I think they added a lot to the movie.

    Ack, this got long. In conclusion. Wish they’d cut the narrators and leaned more heavily on a couple of the stories and used the others as filler instead of giving them such equal weight. Loved all of the women and really most of the performances. And oof, ARK.

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    • Yes! ARK is honest, straight through. He even tells his big brother that it is him in a sex video, which must have been really hard, and then explains it again to the police.

      I like the moral complexity of both Abhishek and Pankaj’s characters. Abhishek as we see him with Inayat is a big teddy bear, but we know he was a killer in the past, and messed up his wife’s life real bad, and even now his blackmailing them to get access to his daughter is kind of scuzzy and not really thinking about what is best for the child. Pankaj is a straight up gangster too, but his relationship with his nurse means that there is something in him that can build a relationship, and that there is someone in the world who needs him.

      On Sun, Nov 29, 2020 at 12:28 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, Abhishek is the bad guy the movie is trying to get us to accept as a good guy in spite of all evidence to the contrary. (Enter tiny adorable child.) Pankaj is the bad guy the movie refuses to punish, who ends up doing good almost in spite of himself.

        Now that I think of it, given Pankaj’s ending, he’s not a crime boss anymore. So was there really a need to kill Abhishek? Seems kind of arbitrary that his character is deemed expendable and his story has to end.

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        • If the overall moral of the film is people needing people in a one on one way, than Abhishek is expendable. His ex-wife and daughter don’t need him any more, if anything he brings complications to their lives. Adorable Little Girl doesn’t need him, she has her real parents back. But Pankaj is still needed by the nurse, so he gets to survive.

          Does that work? It’s not about you, it is about if other people in the world need you?

          On Sun, Nov 29, 2020 at 4:50 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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