Don’t we love Anushka Sharma for her sass and sensuality, for how she turns from an adorable Aphrodite to a bindaas belle in a mere wink? Don’t we just gawk with admiration when she dances with abandon, as if it’s her last dance and she must milk out all her Jazba into every move she makes? And don’t we get brainwashed of all the talk about her skeletal frame when she peels off to flaunt a body tailormade for bikini (not vice versa). I, at times, do, and so went to watch Ladies V/s Ricky Bahl all game to be happily clean bowled by Anushka again. But I was stumped by another girl.
Parineeti Chopra. This hitherto anonymous girl with ordinary features and no acting background emerges from the marketing wing of the YRF and takes to acting like she was born and bred for it. Playing a feisty Delhi girl, Parineeti is impudent, crass, bluff, and all moony over her man, a con he may be. Though her role isn’t chunky, she leaves you wanting to hear more of those funny lines (finely penned by Habib Faisal) that only she, with her natural flair and Punju accent, could have mouthed.
In a film populated by four ladies, it’s hard for a man to hold his stead, but Ranveer Singh just about manages that with a subdued charm, boyish smile, washboard abs and some talent too. He plays Ricky Bahl, a conman who exclusively targets girls. Assuming varied guises like that of a clothes merchant, gym instructor or art dealer, he woos the ladies, wins their trust, and when the iron is hot, bang and poof! he’s gone with their lakhs safely stuffed in his briefcase.
Among his pretty victims is the gullible Dimple (Parineeti Chopra) from Delhi, a shy and reserved Saira (Aditi Sharma) from Lucknow and a suave executive Raina (Dipannita Sharma) from Mumbai. The three ladies gang up to give the slicker a taste of his own medicine and hire a smart, clever salesgirl Ishika (Anushka Sharma) to trap the Bloody Kameena (as they call Ricky Bahl) and beat him at his own game. Will the swindler bite the bait and be hoist by his own petard? Or will he pull a fast one on the ladies again when they least suspect?
For one, the film has an interesting plot and director Maneesh Sharma doesn’t let your interest wane for the first half. Ricky Bahl’s exploits with the three ladies aren’t cerebral, but they make for a fun watch. The trouble starts in the second half, when Anushka and Ranveer are made to loiter around Goa more than a taut script should have offered, and the pace slackens thereon. It’s also hard to stomach the fact that a clever conman like Ricky Bahl could so easily be made to shell out lakhs with nothing much to offer for his confidence than a website of a business empire whose heiress he hopes to ensnare. And it’s a droll but unconvincing sight to see the ladies buying ersatz goodies from roadside stalls at bargain-basement prices and pasting them with the labels of high-end brands like a Gucci or Fendi while Ricky Bahl happily foots the bill. Also Anushka Sharma’s role ought to have more meat. Just when one expects her to outfox Ricky Bahl, she’s a weak, lovestruck girl, a mere shadow of her former self.
But credit to the ladies for putting up good performances. Anushka and Parineeti steal the show, while Aditi Sharma and Dipannita Sharma chip in well for their part. Aditi makes for a believable picture of a bashful small-town girl, while Dipannita is her diametric opposite: a city-bread, tough taskmaster and a go-getter.
The music by Salim-Sulaiman is plain ordinary but the cinematographer Aseem Mishra shows an eye for the detail. Director Maneesh Sharma bookends the story well but lets it go limp in the middle. And sometimes that’s where things matter the most.
All in all, Ladies V/s Ricky Bahl is a fun one-time watch. Just don’t go expecting the moon, and you’ll come out smiling.