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Caught and reformed

Caught and reformed
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First Published: Fri, Dec 09 2011. 09 20 PM IST

Predictable : Ranveer Singh and Parineeti Chopra in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl
Predictable : Ranveer Singh and Parineeti Chopra in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl
Updated: Fri, Dec 09 2011. 09 20 PM IST
Film Reviews | Ladies vs Ricky Bahl & New Year’s Eve
Maneesh Sharma’s Ladies vs Ricky Bahl has the classic set-up of a con-man film. A smooth-talking, six-pack-flaunting man dupes women and gets away with it. Thirty women fall for him. Thankfully, we meet just three: Dimple Chaddha (Parineeti Chopra), Raina Parulekar (Dipannita Sharma) and Saira Rashid (Aditi Sharma), who are robbed of lakhs of rupees because Sunny Singh/Deven Shah/Iqbal Khan is such a good trickster.
Predictable : Ranveer Singh and Parineeti Chopra in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl
Ricky Bahl’s (Ranveer Singh’s) tricks, however, are quite banal. He just about modulates his voice, dresses the part and poses as the tough guy with a big heart, and the women—number-crunching manager Raina from Mumbai, daddy’s spoilt girl Dimple from Delhi, and traditional Indian beti Saira from Lucknow—just roll out the money.
Despite the facetious situations under which he robs them, the first half of the film has the snap and crackle of a great script. The dialogues by Habib Faisal are real and soaked in humour. None of the characters is reduced to a caricature. Faisal has each character’s tongue and milieu in mind, and he especially gets Dimple’s Punjabi bluster and boisterousness to the tee. She is the film’s most endearing character, performed convincingly by debutante Chopra.
Dimple’s boyfriend Sunny fakes the papers of a mansion on Barakhamba Road to lure her father into buying it. In Mumbai, he effortlessly sells a fake Husain painting for a ridiculous sum of money to the smart manager of a communications company. And then, in Lucknow, he convinces Saira, who lives with her parents-in-law after the death of her husband and runs a family business of clothes, that he is a poor sari weaver from Bareilly. Saira’s father-in-law pays him a hefty advance after seeing just one intricately embroidered sari in Iqbal’s bag.
After he has walked away with the money to Goa, the three women are angry and heartbroken, and they hatch a plot to trap him and get their money back. The trap is Ishika Desai (Anushka Sharma), an unusually chirpy and successful salesgirl at a Mumbai supermarket who happens to be a friend of one of the cheated women. The film shifts to Goa, where he is a water-sports instructor.
Anushka plays an unusually chirpy Mumbai girl.
The screenplay, by Devika Bhagat and Faisal, and the story by Aditya Chopra, get tiringly predictable from this point. Forget being similar to Frank Abagnale, the smug, glorious con man in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. Sunny starts showing signs of a weepy lover boy. The film falls right into the Yash Raj formula of hinging all stories on soppy romance. This guy is not even a patch on the smiling assassin he is in the first hour.
The film would have easily sunk into mediocrity if it were not for the performances and Faisal’s dialogues. Singh and Anushka Sharma don’t quite replicate the charm of their first film together, Yash Raj Films’ Band Baaja Baaraat, also by the same director and writer. In keeping with the script’s rootedness, Maneesh Sharma extracts realistic performances out of the actors. Everyone in the supporting cast is able to deliver. Chopra, especially, is a great new find. Her energy and ease are infectious.
Ladies vs Ricky Bahl is an unintentional genre-bender— the romantic drowning the con man in boring reform mode. What an unnecessary hijack.
New Year’s Eve
This is the second of director Garry Marshall’s movies artlessly pegged to a day. Valentine’s Day was a boring multi-narrative film, but a hit in American theatres. His new film, New Year’s Eve, set in New York City, has a stellar cast, including Halle Berry (a nurse), Robert DeNiro (a man dying of cancer), Sarah Jessica Parker, Jon Bon Jovi (a star), and others playing characters whose lives and relationships are in a state of flux. Through the course of a night, there are epiphanies and resolutions, and by the end, it is clear that all the characters are somehow related.
Don’t expect complexity, although schmaltzy emotions are aplenty. But with a cast that includes the who’s who of Hollywood, the curiosity to watch it is inevitable.
Ladies vs Ricky Bahl and New Year’s Eve released in theatres on Friday.
sanjukta.s@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Dec 09 2011. 09 20 PM IST