Ludo movie review: Anurag Basu brings an absurd world to life in his dark comedy on Netflix. With Abhishek Bachchan, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra and Aditya Roy Kapur in the cast, he does justice to his premise.
Ludo begins on a prophetic note. The neighborhood leader, Sattu (played by Pankaj Tripathi), celebrates a not-so-clean murder by singing to Bhagwan Dada’s song, O Beta Ji, which is perhaps the biggest hit of his career, Albela. The actor, whose dance moves are said to have inspired Amitabh Bachchan early in his career, found immense fame and fortune after the film: a 25-room beachfront bungalow in Juhu, Mumbai, and a fleet of luxury cars. And then, as happens in life and in tragedies, he lost everything. The man who had lived so richly spent his last days in a slum, playing bit parts in movies and being abandoned by his famous friends.
Watch the trailer of Ludo
Anurag Basu uses the song repeatedly in Ludo to emphasize that fate is a cruel mistress. In word and spirit, the song becomes part of the metaphor that Ludo is meant to be. It’s an odd metaphor to choose when it comes to weighing good and evil and cause and effect in your story, all while bringing in chaos theory through mythology. Yes, Basu goes overboard, which is perhaps his best and worst quality as a director. The confusing and infuriating Jagga Jasoos is a good example: Few films are as polarizing as this musical about a young detective.
Ludo, for all its faults, keeps it short, with a cast that helps it stay on course. With Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkummar Rao, Abhishek Bachchan, Shalini Vatsa, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra and Aditya Roy Kapur, the film takes the time to establish its world and reveal the connections.
Ludo explores the idea that our lives are a network of actions and reactions, often a random act that determines our course. Following Ludo’s metaphor, all the characters represent the four colors of the game, with Pankaj’s character acting as a die or catalyst. Just as the flutter of a butterfly can trigger a typhoon on the other side of the world, an assassination attempt on Sattu triggers a series of actions that will endanger the lives of several characters.