For crying out loud, please don't make them do it again! Please don't look for another Band Baaja Baaraat from the Ranveer Singh-Anushka Sharma-Maneesh Sharma team. And chances are, you will come away from Ladies v/s Ricky Bahl with a feeling of having seen a smoothly-sculpted con caper about a suave charlatan who wins over 31....or is it 32?...women and then breaks their heart while running away with their bank balance.
Money ke, yeh mard means business.
We only see the con-man, played with sly suaveness by Ranveer Singh hoodwink four women. The first three episodes where Ricky Bahl (yup, that's his name but we know it only at the end) cons first a bubbly loud Punjabi business family's fun-loving girl (played with endearing effervescence by Parineeta Chopra), then a uptight hoity-toity business excusive (Dipannita Sharma, accomplished) and then simple widow from Lucknow (Aditi Sharma, sweet) are cut beautifully, like a well-tailored roomy band-gala sherwani. Lagi shirt!
Suresh Sharma's editing moves through the Ranveer character's various escapades with a direct deftness that leaves no room for loose moments. However, a bagginess creeps into the narration in the second-half when Ranveer meets his match (in more ways than one) in Goa. Here, the chemistry is more laboured than luminous.
Though Goa is captured with pristine picturesqueness the Ranveer-Anushka relationship in the second-half falters due to a lack of inner conviction. Though the writing is smooth textured and layered, the mellow momentum is forfeited once it's payback time for the con-man.
Anushka Sharma's predictable bubbly-on-the-prowl act here often seems self conscious and repetitive. Could we please see this bundle of energy do something else? And really, her introductory song is more a homage to Ram Gopal Varma's Rangeela than a panoramic look-see at Anushka's character's heartland.
The songs and choreography are little more erotic diversions.
Ranveer Singh gets his act together with great care for details. Each step of his con game is charted carefully with the right physique, body language clothes and accessories. Yup, this actor works hard on getting it right and succeeds. If the highlight in Band Baajaa Baaraat was the sequence where Ranveer's character blurted out his love for Anushka, here too Ranveer gets the love-confession sequence just right.
Here's an interesting actor who matches his enthusiasm level with a compelling quotient of sensitivity.
Fatally, we never know what motivates Ricky Bahl. Why does he do what he does? Is he a benign fan of Shah Rukh Khan over-dosing on the Baazigar philosophy of fooling women for money?
If the narrative tends to run through a blind alley quite often it also finds its way into a luminous light often enough to make us feel favourably towards the overall products. The locational details and the character-specifications are done with rare care. The three actresses Parineeti Chopra, Aditi Sharma and Dipannati Sharma playing Ricky's three scorned women slip effortlessly into their roles. They play their parts with contagious gusto.
As for Anushka, she is a fearless actress, not afraid to let her emotions overrule her makeup. At the end of the film when she dresses up as Santa Claus to smooch Ranveer Singh in shopping mall, there isn't that same feeling of breathless exhilaration we felt when Ranveer and Anushka kissed in their previous film together.
But hush. Not every day is a Sunday. And as far as con capers go, Ladies v/s Ricky Bahl moves at an engaging pace long enough to qualify as a rom-com which looks and feels right.