Review: ‘Ladies Room—2 Girls, 6 Loos’
Ladies Room doesn’t try to give us a morality lesson, but ends up doing more for gender equality than most other films
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Third time lucky. That definitely seems to be the case with Y Films’ attempts at making hatke online shows for “the youth, by the youth, for the youth”. I watched the first two episodes of their new series, Ladies Room—2 Girls, 6 Loos over the weekend and I have to say I’m a believer.
Before this, Y Films had made two online shows that I know of, which swung between middling and funky. Man’s World , in which a man wakes up to find himself in a world where gender roles have been reversed and women are literally wearing the pants, and Bang Baaja Baaraat, which is a fluffy and occasionally funny take on what happens pre-wedding when two people getting married meet each other’s families for the first time.
What works for Ladies Room is that it’s not trying to giving us a morality lesson, but ends up doing more for gender equality than most other films which try to do so. The series, two episodes of which were released online on 31 May, is about two young women, Dingo and Khanna, who are best friends and in their mid-20s. Each episode is set in a different restroom, although in some cases the word “toilet” may be more suited to the restroom on display.
I wasn’t expecting too much from the series after watching the trailer , which really didn’t do the series justice. And made it seem like this über cool, coming of age, Hangover-esque kind of show.
Each episode is just over 10 minutes in duration, which in itself is an attractive proposition. Chapter One—In Which Dingo And Khanna Discover Where The Grass Is Greener or Dingo And Khanna Get Caught with Pot, is set in the toilet on a train—which definitely looked bigger than any train loo I’ve seen, but let’s give some leeway for entertainment. Dingo is rolling a joint in the loo while Khanna is ruing the fact that her period is late, when a cop from the Narcotics Control Bureau sniffs them out and asks them to come out and be arrested. There’s physical humour with what can only be called “potty”, and lots of banter. Dingo is the slightly wilder, on-the-edge friend who doesn’t have a job, but is very Zen about her life. Khanna seems the more responsible good girl, who has a job, pays her rent and doesn’t seem to want to smoke pot in a train loo and is far more highly strung than Dingo.
Chapter Two—In Which Dingo And Khanna Find A Flood Of Emotion aka Preggers Or Not, is set in the loo of the apartment in which Dingo has managed to convince a friend (whom she doesn’t even like too much) to let her sleep on the sofa. Khanna thinks she may be pregnant and is taking a series of pregnancy tests on home pregnancy kits, and flushes her plastic gloves down the loo only to clog it up. There’s a very funny line about a pregnancy determination website called Whosyourdaddy.com. There are Gujju jokes, good girl jokes and a plethora of abuse and phrases which anyone who’s lived in Mumbai will be familiar with—my favourites being chodhri and charsi saali.
There is much to relate to and I have to say the conversation is spot on. This is the way women speak to each other, or at least women I know used to and still speak to each other—you know, when it’s just us girls. Also, all of us who’ve lived in crappy rented accommodation in our early years in Mumbai have dealt with overflowing loos, heard tales from friends of their horrendous roommates, and even stayed for months with friends whose landlords didn’t seem to have any idea that instead of two tenants, he had four people routinely staying in the house.
There are nuances and incidents which all of us have been through and recognise. Such as referring to people by their entire name, or just by their surname. Horrible bosses who treat their employees like deviants and slightly thick, and call them on holiday and ask them whether they’ve spotted that extra comma on a slide (I have to admit I saw myself in that boss). Pregnancy scares and useless pregnancy kits which keep giving contradictory results. Boyfriends who are so soppy and useless, you wonder why you’re with them. But much like a rite of passage, you are with them because later you’ll appreciate the better ones more.
There’s a Bengali man called Sujoy who Dingo’s parents have said she will have to marry if she asks them for money again. He’s a “good boy, good money, good family” who fills Dingo with dread. Holding your friend’s hand through a hospital visit, when they’ve got knocked up. And offering your friend a place to stay because they are always on the breadline and still haven’t figured what work they want to do—but have decided to keep living in Mumbai till they do so. Also, how Dingo discusses Khanna’s boyfriend is very relatable and I’ve been there, done that and seen all my friends do it as well. Just because our friend is in love or involved with someone is no reason to not make fun of that person or your friend for choosing to be with that person.
It’s real, it’s funny, the two characters dress the way women their age do. Most importantly, the conversation is spot on, unlike the conversations between the male BFFs in the film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which, as I was told by many male friends, was the way women think men speak to each other when alone and was very far removed from reality. Casting director Shanoo Sharma should get a medal for casting Saba Azad and Shreya Dhanwanthary as Dingo and Khanna, respectively. As should the writers, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee and Neha Kaul Mehra. This is good stuff.
The only thing which irritated me was that the incidents are a little too stretched out. Whether it’s the conversation with the cop on the train, or the unclogging of the loo in the second episode—it seems to be a tad prolonged and at moments slightly irrational. Also, nothing had prepared me for Vikas Khanna popping up in the middle of the second episode with puffed-up blow-dried hair, and skin and a chef’s uniform which have never seen the heat of a kitchen, only to tell me to buy Quaker Oats and “bowl him over”.
It’s great to see comedy with women as lead characters. I like the subtle feminism of a series about female characters, leading independent lives, holding down jobs, paying—or not paying—rent, scoring grass and men, and being pillars of support to each other in a crisis.
Should you watch it? I’d say, definitely. And the next episode, which is about Khanna being preggers, looks like a cracker.
You can watch the two episodes here . Just keep a lookout for Vikas Khanna. You have been warned.
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