Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapur, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Rohit Saraf, Fatima Sana Sheikh, Sanya Malhotra, Pearle Maaney, Inayat Verma, Asha Negi and Shalini Vats
Director: Anurag Basu
Ludo is brilliant as a concept, engaging in execution, but mostly mediocre in output. It is a film that ensembles four intertwined stories of love and relationships, and the idea is to spread out a narrative with a twist of irreverence and wry humour.
Ludo begins on a prophetic note. The local don of the area, Sattu (played by Pankaj Tripathi), celebrates a not-so-clean kill by singing along to Bhagwan Dada’s song, O Beta Ji, from perhaps the biggest hit of his career, Albela. The actor, whose dance steps reportedly inspired Amitabh Bachchan early in his career, found immense fame and wealth after the film – a 25-room sea-facing bungalow in Juhu, Mumbai, and a fleet of fancy cars. And then, as it happens in life and tragedies, he lost it all. The man who lived so lavishly spent his last days in a dingy chawl, doing bit roles in films, forsaken by his famous friends.
People are run over by trucks; cars end up on train tracks and cranes ram into hospitals — the physical comedy and broad humour are very much a part of Ludo’s landscape. It all ends in a bonkers climax where everyone ends up at the same place, and the bullets fly.
Basu manages to stir emotions at a primal level using colours, a device he has employed in his earlier films. Here, the characters are illustrated via the hues — Abhishek’s red stands for anger and passion. Rajkummar and Fatima’s green signifies survival; Aditya and Sanya’s easy-going romance perfectly fits the yellow. At the same time, Rohit and Pearl Maaney’s blue portrays their childlike innocence.
For a film that gets so much right, the only jarring note is the title itself. ‘Life is Ludo and Ludo is life,’ the film’s director tells us at the beginning, as he plays the game while wearing a chihuahua of a fake beard. For a game that was at best a ‘timepass’ during the dreary lockdown, that level of commitment is indeed commendable.