2.5 Stars (out of 4)
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There’s a decent romantic comedy buried within Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl. Unfortunately, one has to slog through the interminable opening hour of its 140 minute runtime to find it.
Briefly put, Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl is about three women who get revenge on a conman. Rather than get right to the revenge, however, the movie shows, in tedious detail, how each of the women is taken for various amounts of money by Ricky Bahl (Ranveer Singh), a grifter who goes by the aliases Sunny, Deven, Iqbal and Vikram.
In fact, the opening credits don’t even run until twenty minutes into the film, after “Sunny” tricks a naive, spoiled brat named Dimple (Parineeti Chopra) into falling for him. After he makes off with Dimple’s dad’s money, Sunny changes his name to Deven and tricks a businesswoman named Raina (Dipannita Sharma) into buying a bogus painting.
When Raina and Dimple are contacted by a third conned woman, textile shop owner Saira (Aditi Sharma), the three team up to get their money back. They hire a beautiful and uncommonly persuasive salesgirl, Ishika (Anushka Sharma), to trick Ricky into returning their stolen funds.
This is when the story finally gets interesting, but it’s an hour into the film. Up to this point, the plot is simultaneously predictable and directionless. It’s obvious how each of Ricky’s cons is going to end; the only mystery is why we need such a large volume of set-up material.
It’s also a huge mistake to keep the film’s biggest asset — Anushka Sharma — under wraps for so long. Sharma has an infectious smile and an undeniable charm. Her ease in front of the camera has elevated every film she’s starred in during the course of her brief career.
Singh is a perfectly suitable leading man, particularly for Yash Raj Films’ particular brand of light, popcorn fare. Singh’s got a killer smile as well, his hair looks great when a high-powered fan is directed at it, and his muscled torso is manscaped within an inch of its life. But that’s probably not enough to warrant anchoring a film when a legitimate superstar like Anushka Sharma is in the cast.
And let’s not forget that Ricky is a conman. We want to see him get his comeuppance at the hands of someone we like. That’s Ishika, someone who’s similarly clever but earns her paycheck legally. She enters a grey area by accepting the ladies’ job, but that makes her interesting, not a criminal. Ishika has the most room for growth, so she should be the main character, not Ricky.
The rest of the titular ladies carry off their somewhat narrow roles well. Notable is newcomer Chopra (actress Priyanka Chopra’s cousin), who successfully makes Pringle-chomping rich girl Dimple more amusing than annoying. Some of the most enjoyable scenes in the film feature the ladies working together to extract money from the thief.
The music and dance numbers are entertaining, thanks in large part to Singh’s impressive skills on the dance floor.
Had the backstory of how each woman was swindled been trimmed down to a total of twenty or thirty minutes, this might have been a pretty good film. But Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl has too many missteps early on to make it a “must see” movie.