Disclaimer: Spoilers Ahead.
Netflix’s Ludo, written and directed by Anurag Basu, is an entertaining dark comedy, that thrills and excites in equal measure. When it comes to the film’s story, the dice may not always roll a six, but it’s the unexpected moves that players make, that make it an amusing game indeed.
Here are some of the finest, most hilarious, and/or most emotional moments of the film:
1. Right at the start, when two ‘travelers’ set down to play Ludo and their conversation, sets the tone for the film.
Before any of the main players are introduced, we see two men arrive at a hilltop, apparently waiting for something to unfold – though no one knows what. The scene, which stars Anurag Basu himself, sets the tone for the film – a wacky dramedy, delivering life lessons in the form of punchlines.
2. The introduction scene of Pankaj Tripathi, who plays Rahul Satyendra “Sattu” Tripathi.
Pankaj Tripathi does not arrive on-screen. No, he bursts upon the screen as a sassy, gun-wielding crook, who explains to his victim that he is not killing him, but rather, ‘freeing him’. From his attire to his delivery (of the bullet and the dialogue), everything about the scene is unexpectedly comical.
While this introduction takes the cake, Rajkummar Rao’s ‘menu recitation’ also deserves a special mention for managing to evoke laughter, even though fast-paced recitations are a very common comical device.
3. When Mini’s pet dog is taken away.
In order to build a better life for themselves and their daughter, Mini’s parents work extra hard, but end up ignoring her for the most time. To rub salt on the wound, her only true companion, her pet dog, is also sent away at the behest of her nanny, leaving her even more bitter and disheartened.
Anyone who has ever lost a pet, for whatsoever reason, will understand the pain Mini experiences at the time.
4. When Pinky accidentally implicates her own husband in a Police case of double-murder.
When Pinky’s husband is arrested as a suspect in a double-murder case, she arrives at the police station and clarifies that she saw her husband–who she suspected of cheating–at a friend’s house and thus he is innocent. But her statement confirms the police’s suspicion, because the victim is the friend whose house Pinky thinks her husband was staying at.
To make matters worse, when she eventually meets her husband, he confesses that he could not have committed the murder, because he indeed was having an affair and was at his girlfriend’s house, not his friend’s, as Pinky believed.
It’s these twists, that all happen in the span of two to three minutes, that you almost see coming and yet can’t predict, that turn even the gravest of situations hilarious.
5. When Mini discovers a friend in Bittu, and also reminds the audience of the joy of simple things.
In her search for Chiku, a runaway Mini finds an unexpected friend in Bittu, who takes her in and helps her, till he can get her back to her parents.
Right in the middle of a very sombre conversation about Bittu’s daughter and Mini’s parents, Mini watches a train rush by from the window of Bittu’s flat. The pure rush of emotion on her face is the most honest reminder of a child’s ability to find joy in the simple things of life.
6. When Rahul and Sheeja give it back, in style, to their workplace harassers.
Rahul is working under a sadistic boss, who not only physically abuses him any chance he gets, but also insults and humiliates him. Concurrently, Sheeja’s colleagues constantly make fun of her for not knowing proper Hindi or English. Both Rahul and Sheeja are working to sustain themselves and thus, unable to leave the job. But, when they unexpectedly come across some cash, the two waste no time in giving it back to their harassers, and finally, bidding adieu to a toxic workplace.
7. When Bittu sees his daughter for the first time, since being released from jail.
From the moment Bittu is released from jail, he focuses all his efforts on meeting his daughter. While his character arc, right down to his conversation with Mini over letting your loved ones be free, is extremely predictable, the moment he actually sees his daughter for the first time still tugs at your heartstrings.
8. When Pinky finally gets rid of her good-for-nothing husband.
Of course, I don’t condone murder. But, Pinky’s husband not only cheats on her but also blames her for his troubles, even though she moves heaven and earth, literally, in trying to break him out the jail. Moreover, he even accuses her of cheating, despite the fact that he has no proof of it. No wonder he ended up dead.
After all, a week of losing all your savings to save a husband who can not even say a thank you can make anyone lose control. So Pinky’s actions are certainly not right, but I won’t say I don’t understand them.
9. When Sattu returns to Lata, after escaping death, yet again.
Lata helps Sattu escape because she believes he loves her. However, when he leaves her stranded on the road, she, and the audience, believe Sattu used her for his own gain. But, he returns to her, bloody, bruised, and shot at, but with money and diamonds, promising a brighter future for them.
The film makes two things clear right at the start. Firstly, there is no such thing as an out-and-out saint or sinner. And, secondly, it’s impossible to predict how life can turn out for someone. Much like how, despite committing grave crimes, Sattu escapes death multiple times. And yet, the one time he does something comparitvely right, he ends up paralyzed.
Now, whether you’d consider his life a win or a loss, is up to interpretation. Perhaps, that’s what the film aims to say – it’s not about the hand life deals you, but rather, about how you deal with those circumstances, that determine the quality of your life.
All images are screenshots from Netflix, unless specified otherwise: