Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl Review: Good Ideas, Not Quite Perfected

Oh boy, a review of an old movie I just watched for the first time! This should be lazy and fun.

When Maneesh Sharma wanted to make the movie Fan, he took the script to Adi and Adi said “keep working on it, you aren’t quite there”. Adi did not say that when he took him the script for this movie, and he really should have. It’s got some lovely ideas, but it just isn’t quite there.

Ladies vs Ricky Bahl - movie: watch streaming online

One thing that is really interesting about this movie is the way the hero is handled. He’s the hero, but he’s not the protagonist. We don’t get anything from his point of view until well into the film. Mostly we are seeing people react to him. It’s a fun role for Ranveer, because he gets to be sort of a characture and be whatever folks want him to be, but it isn’t really a star role. You can’t fall in love with the Ricky Bahl character because you never really know him until the very very end.

On the other hand, the three female friends Parineeti Chopra and Dipannita Sharma and Aditi Sharma get LOADS of perspective moments. The audience relates to them totally because we are there for their journey. It’s just the hero who is opaque. And also a little bit the heroine. Anushka gets more backstory and motivation than Ranveer, but she still isn’t introduced until late in the film and has few honest moments.

I guess the biggest problem is the first half/second half issue. We spend the first half getting to know and love Pari, Dipannita, and Aditi. And then they are dropped in the second half more or less and we have to struggle to understand and care for Ranveer and Anushka.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

We start with Pari, a spoiled very inexperienced young rich woman. She is in love with her trainer from the gym, Ranveer. Ranveer tells her about his fabulous family bungalow that he can’t sell because of nasty tenants. Pari’s Dad kicks the tenants out for him, and then rushes in to buy the bungalow at a discount. Only to learn that it was all a scam, Ranveer didn’t own the bungalow at all, and he has disappeared with the money. Then he Ranveer enters the life of Dipannita, a successful career woman looking to impress her boss. He convinces her to buy an MF Hussain painting and give him a cash commission. But it turns out to be fake and Ranveer has disappeared. Dipannita goes on TV outing the scam and it sounds familiar to Pari, so she calls her and sends Dipannita a photo of Ranveer to confirm. And then Aditi calls Dipannita too. She is a young widow in Lucknow who runs a family textiles store. Ranveer approached her as a young artisan trying to sell exquisite handworked fabric. Her family paid him an advance, and he disappeared. The three woman join together and use detective work to track Ranveer down. Then decide that the best revenge would be to trick him into giving his money back. They hire smart shopgirl Anushka to work with them and pay for her to stay at a luxury hotel in Goa as a fake rich woman. She pretends to be a rich American wanting to open a restaurant in Goa. Ranveer shows up as a “guide” and flirts with her. She convinces him to help fund her start up for the restaurant and they get their money back. But she and Ranveer start to fall in love for real. In the end, Ranveer learns she is working against him and tricks her in turn by selling her swampland. And then has a change of heart and returns the money and professes his love.

The part of the film that is really fun and special and different is seeing the three women come together to defeat Ranveer. They are all such different characters with different backgrounds, and the film respects their intelligence. Pari is a spoiled rich girl, but also smart enough to sneak a photo of Ranveer. Dipannita is an unpleasant ambitious woman, but also determined enough to track Ranveer down. Aditi is a quiet old-fashioned widow, but fearless. So many layers to this part! We see that Ranveer picked woman who had the confidence/power to be useful to them. But at the same time he underestimated them, didn’t think these women would ever work together. There’s a whole gender message here, Ranveer is using these women as a soft entry point to the men around them who have the real power/money, Pari’s father and Dipannita’s boss and Aditi’s family. But what he doesn’t expect is that the women would break off and hunt him down on their own, that they would feel a personal anger over what he did. He knows that the men around them won’t do anything because it would be too humiliating to admit their failure and the women aren’t even a factor in his calculations.

The film also is very very careful in how the cons from Ranveer are crafted. He never crosses a line, never takes physical advantage of the women. Never even over-promises, he doesn’t mention marriage to anyone. He is using these women as a stepping stone and then forgetting them. There is no “woman scorned” or “woman shamed” kind of anger incited by his scams. He isn’t an evil abuser like many men easily can be in Indian society (promising love and taking virginity, leaving behind shame and regrets). He is just a conman who has learned to respect women as powers in a social structure, while still underestimating them.

All of that is great! It just feels like the movie didn’t know where to go from there. The easy answer was to swing over to a romance plot, make it all about Ranveer and Anushka getting together and let the more complicated ideas go away. But it’s such a pity! Ranveer and Anushka have great chemistry, and there is nothing actively wrong with their romance, the fake-rich shopgirl and the conman falling in love is cute enough. It’s just so much less interesting than watching Pari and Aditi and Dipannita come into their own by working together.

I’m not sure where I want the movie to go. Definitely the three women need to track down Ranveer. But maybe instead of hiring Anushka, they can craft a totally different kind of con to catch him? And maybe each have their own romances along the way (like, Dipannita is romanced by the shy tech guy, Aditi by the smooth hotel concierge, Pari by the fast talking young street con artist)? Keep Ranveer as the smooth guy you love to hate, keep him as the mystery instead of this awkward last minute humanization.

Just needs another rewrite somehow, a little more time marinating before release.

7 thoughts on “Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl Review: Good Ideas, Not Quite Perfected

  1. This exactly! The beginning part with the three ladies are so fun but once it gets to Anushka and the actual con it’s so boring. And Ranveer and Anushka have great chemistry but it’s just not fun for whatever reason. Would have been much better if it was just the other three women instead.

    Like

  2. Agree with your diagnosis. I wouldn’t get rid of Anushka though, I like how the other women run her as their spy op. How about this for a more satisfying ending: instead of Anushka as a mercenary sales girl, give her a back story that makes it personal. Maybe her dad was a gambler and a grifter and ran off leaving her mom penniless, so Anushka developed her mad hustling skills to survive. She likes the mission because getting back at Ranveer is like getting revenge on her dad. You can still have romantic sparks fly, but Anushka’s loyalties are firmly on the women’s side. The dumb plot twist of Ranveer overhearing them never happens. The last con works, Ranveer ends up broke and sitting in the dirt at the edge of a useless plot of land. He is confronted by the women but they hold the power and all of his money.

    Pari has already gotten over him by this point, maybe she fell for the surf instructor she hired as a cover. The three boss ladies toss him a couple of wads of cash then sashay off to divide up the rest, maybe talking about a partnership they’re going to set up together to help women wronged by deadbeats. Anushka stays behind. Looking at Ranveer, she realizes her dad was a nasty piece of work while Ranveer is more of a survivor like her who strayed over the line. She makes him a business proposition. To make amends, they take some of Anushka’s share and find a way to make good on his promises to each of the women, starting with the Lucknow family. Because they’re both have amazing skills for sales and business, they make everyone more successful, including themselves (this is a 5 minute montage at the end). Anushka shows Ranveer how to go straight, and he doubles her money. Ending happy kiss, and she tells him if he ever tries to con her or run off on her, she’ll break his kneecaps.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes! I like all of this! Only two things I would add. First, Pari’s surf instructor is not true love. He is a cute guy who flirts with her and she has her first kiss. And it makes her realize that she is a desirable woman who can find love if she wants it, and also that Ranveer wasn’t true love, just a fun flirtation like surf instructor.

      Second, I want the women to realize they should start a business together. Because part of this whole theme is that they had no control over money, they were the entry point to people who had money. So give them the control they should have had all along! Pari can invest her money in Aditi’s shop with Dipannita being the business head. They do a big advertising campaign for “clothes for any woman, because we are all wonderful”. And we can have it on billboards and playing in the background while Anushka and Ranveer go around fixing things.

      On Wed, Dec 2, 2020 at 11:24 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like the money addition. They can start fresh though, family businesses are always so complicated. Maybe an investor/incubator/micro lender for women-owned businesses. Pari’s money and gumption, Dipannita’s business sense, and Aditi’s compassion and human touch.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. One of my biggest issues with the movie is that it tips its hand right before the climax. The moment we see Ranveer overhearing Anushka’s conversation, the rest of the movie loses all tension. That was such a weird editing decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point, I hadn’t thought about that. there is still the surprise of Ranveer having a change of heart at the end, but it would have been a lot more tense if we didn’t know it was a scam until the end.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.