Tag Archives: Ludo

Best Bollywood Movies of 2020

COVID-19 upended the Hindi movie industry (along with everything else) in 2020, but Bollywood fans still had plenty of new films to choose from — and a lot of great ones at that! My five favorite Hindi movies of 2020 had one thing in common: they all released directly on Netflix. Three were produced specifically for Netflix, while the streamer nabbed exclusive rights for the other two. Let’s see what topped my Best Bollywood Movies of 2020 list!

Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl was supposed to have a theatrical release, before COVID hit. While Janhvi Kapoor didn’t get to command the big screen in her first solo leading role, Netflix gave her patriotic movie plenty of hype for its streaming service debut just before Indian Independence Day. Kapoor proves that she’s got what it takes to carry a film, turning in a delightful performance opposite Pankaj Tripathi, who plays her father in the movie.

The most inventive film on the list is one of the titles produced specifically for Netflix. AK vs AK pits Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap against one another, playing fictionalized versions of themselves in this darkly comical skewering of the Hindi film industry. Director Vikramaditya Motwane’s documentary-style filming makes this a compelling watch from start to finish.

Like AK vs AK, Ludo is another dark comedy made just for Netflix. In contrast to AK vs AK‘s gritty realism, Ludo is full of bright colors and peppy music, as its characters play their part in a game overseen by a pair of celestial narrators (one of whom is the film’s director, Anurag Basu).

Cargo was the only film on my list to screen anywhere before debuting on Netflix, having premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival in late 2019. It’s an endearingly low-tech science fiction movie about the afterlife. Writer-director Arati Kradav demonstrates how to make a movie with a strong visual identity on a comparatively limited budget — and with a charming story, too.

Like Cargo, my Best Bollywood Movie of 2020 was another feature debut by a woman filmmaker with a bold aesthetic sense. Anvita Dutt’s gothic horror flick Bulbbul is almost shocking in its use of color, from the cautionary red glow of the night sky over early 20th century Bengal to the shadowy blue interiors obscuring dangers within the lord’s mansion. Its story condemns not only those who perpetrate violence against women, but the men who enable violence as well, whether deliberately or through willful ignorance. Bulbbul is a movie I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I saw it.

Kathy’s Best Bollywood Movies of 2020

  1. Bulbbul — stream on Netflix
  2. Cargo — stream on Netflix
  3. Ludo — stream on Netflix
  4. AK vs AK — stream on Netflix
  5. Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl — stream on Netflix

Previous Best Movies Lists

Movie Review: Ludo (2020)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Ludo on Netflix

The movie Ludo uses its namesake board game as a metaphor for life, its characters one dice roll away from fortune or ruin. Writer-director Anurag Basu’s black comedy is beautifully made and laugh-out-loud funny.

Anyone who has played the games Aggravation, Sorry!, or Trouble is familiar with how Ludo works. Players from four different colored corners of the game board roll dice, moving their pieces around the board in the hopes of being the first to get all their pieces safely “home.” Basu assigns different characters to the colored corners, and they meet up with one another throughout the story. Right at the center is Sattu Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi), a hard-to-kill gangster with ties to all of them.

In the red corner is Sattu’s former right-hand man Bittu (Abhishek Bachchan), fresh out of prison and eager confront his old boss. Bittu charges in after a meeting between Sattu and the yellow corner’s Akash (Aditya Roy Kapur), who needs Sattu’s help removing a sex tape from the internet. The blue corner’s Rahul (Rohit Suresh Saraf) is at Sattu’s hideout as well, having been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

An explosion sets the characters off in different directions. Rahul drives off with some of Sattu’s stolen cash and a cute, opportunistic nurse named Sheeja (Pearle Maaney). Akash also hits the road, joined by Shruti (Sanya Malhotra) the woman from the sex tape who’s due to marry someone else in a matter of days. Bittu’s plan to find a way back into the life of the wife who left him while he was in jail and the young daughter who doesn’t remember him is derailed when he meets another precocious little girl, Mini (Inayat Verma), who needs help faking her own kidnapping in order to get her distracted parents’ attention.

While all this is happening, the characters from the green corner are trying to get out of their own mess. Alu (Rajkummar Rao) has been in love with Pinky (Fatima Sana Shaikh) since childhood, although she never reciprocated his feelings. Pinky turns up with her baby to ask for Alu’s help getting her husband Manohar (Paritosh Tripathi) out of jail, where he languishes, wrongly accused of a murder committed by Sattu.

Director Basu doesn’t judge his characters for wanting what they want, even if what they want isn’t exactly good for them. Alu is the best example of this. He knows his one-sided devotion to Pinky gets him into trouble and keeps him perpetually single, but he’s miserable when she’s not around. Is it so bad for him to not want to feel awful?

Bittu’s story is the most complicated and emotional. He spent six years waiting to get back to his daughter — who was an infant when he went to prison — but she doesn’t know he exists. She thinks Bittu’s ex-wife’s new husband is her father. Spending time with Mini gives Bittu a chance to act in a fatherly role, making him question whether what he wants for himself is really what’s best for his daughter.

Bachchan’s performance when he’s playing Bittu the Gangster comes off as more pouty than menacing, but he’s terrific as Bittu the Dad. Little Inayat Verma is impossibly adorable, and she and Bachchan are so much fun together. Yet we know their relationship is only temporary. Almost all of Bittu’s options will leave him brokenhearted.

Given Pankaj Tripathi’s recent track record of stealing virtually every movie he’s in, Basu wisely put Tripathi in the middle of things from the start. His character’s introduction — dramatically exposing his inner thigh to pull a gun from a leg holster — is perfection. After the cute pairing of Bittu and Mini, Sattu is part of the film’s second best partnership. While he’s bedridden, Sattu forms a friendship with no-nonsense nurse Lata Kutty (Shalini Vatsa), one of the few people he can’t intimidate. It’s unexpected and delightful.

To keep his dark comedy from becoming too dark, Basu amplifies its other elements. Bright colors differentiate the storylines, but they also cheer up even violent scenes. Character closeups feel a little closer than normal. The excellent soundtrack and score by Pritam are prominent in the mix, setting the tone overtly. Ludo is loud, both aurally and visually, but it feels just right.

Links

Streaming Video News: November 12, 2020

Bollywood fans have two brand new movies to choose from today — both starring Rajkummar Rao. On Netflix, Rao featuresΒ in the dark comedy Ludo as part of an ensemble that includes Abhishek Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh, and Pankaj Tripathi. On Amazon Prime, Rao and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub play rival gym teachers in director Hansal Mehta’s comedy Chhalaang (also available in 4K UHD).

Today’s new releases cap off a busy holiday week on streaming that started with Laxmii‘s Hotstar premiere on Monday. Yesterday, Soorarai Pottru debuted on Prime in Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Telugu (under the title Aakaasam Nee Haddhu Ra).

Lots of other Indian titles have been added to Amazon Prime in the last few days, so head over to my Prime list to see what’s new. And don’t forget to check my Netflix list to see what’s new and what titles are expiring soon. Have a wonderful Diwali!

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Streaming Video News: November 9, 2020

A week of new releases to celebrate Diwali kicked off with today’s premiere of the Akshay Kumar horror comedy Laxmii on Hotstar. Thursday, November 12 sees the debut of the ensemble dark comedy Ludo on Netflix and the Tamil film Soorari Pottru on Amazon Prime. Finally, the social comedy Chhalaang premieres on Amazon Prime on Friday, November 13.

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the new release Gatham, which is available in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu. There’s been a ton of upheaval on Prime in the last week, with hundreds of titles disappearing — some for several days — only for most of them to reappear on the service. The listings at my page are now up-to-date, but it did mean hours of ultimately pointless work for me. πŸ™ I wish Amazon handled its contract renewals and expirations as seamlessly as Netflix does.

Speaking of which, 21 Indian shows and movies are set to expire from Netflix on November 15. The full list is available on my Netflix page under the “Expiring Soon” section near the top of the page. Of the expiring films, these are the ones that I’ve reviewed:

[Disclaimer: all of my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: July 16, 2020

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with info from today’s big announcement about the streaming service’s slate of upcoming Indian movies and TV series. In addition to five new series, Netflix announced five Original films that were already in the works and seven movies that have chosen not to wait for theaters to reopen (whenever that may be). Netflix’s press release has details about the new additions, all of which are in Hindi or English. The only one with a release date so far is the previously announced Gunjan Saxena, which debuts on Netflix on August 12.

For me, the highlights are Ludo (which stars Abhishek Bachchan, Rajkummar Rao, Aditya Roy Kapur, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, and Pankaj Tripathi), Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare (Konkona Sen Sharma and Bhumi Pednekar), Aurangzeb director Atul Sabharwal’s Class of ’83, and Vikramaditya Motwane’s AK vs AK — shorthand for Anil Kapoor vs Anurag Kashyap.

New movies coming to Netflix

New series coming to Netflix

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with more than 20 Indian titles added in the last week, including today’s global debut of the Kannada film Law.

Hotstar dropped the trailer for Lootcase, which launches on the service on July 31.

Streaming Video News: May 8, 2020

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of about a dozen Indian titles in the last several days, including the 2020 pictures Valayam (Telugu) and Dhauli (Hindi) and Praveen Kumar’s new Tamil stand-up comedy special Mr. Family Man. Amazon also released the trailer for its new Hindi crime series Paatal Lok, which debuts May 15.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the trailer for the short-run Hindi horror series Betaal, which debuts on May 24. It’s directed by Patrick Graham, who previously directed the horror series Ghoul for Netflix (as is obvious from the look and vibe of the trailer):

In other news, it looks like the two big releases originally set to face-off in theaters on May 22 will now be heading straight to streaming video. Bollywood Hungama reports a likely June release of Akshay Kumar’s Laxxmi Bomb on Hotstar. The makers of that weekend’s other big flick — Salman Khan’s Radhe — are also considering a streaming release, but they’re asking in the neighborhood of $30 million for the streaming rights (per Bollywood Hungama). The Abhishek Bachchan-Aditya Roy Kapur film Ludo may also head to streaming after missing its April release date. All of these decisions are predicated on the current prevailing industry sentiment that theaters won’t reopen until September at the earliest.

[Disclaimer: all of my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: November 22, 2016

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with several new additions to the catalog. Three Bengali movies by director Qaushiq Mukherjee, aka Q — Gandu, Ludo, and The Land of Cards (“Tasher Desh“) — join two of his Hindi titles already available for streaming: Brahman Naman and X: Past Is Present. Also recently added to Netflix is the new series Brown Nation. This 10-episode comedy about a dysfunctional New Jersey IT firm features Bollywood veterans Omi Vaidya of 3 Idiots fame and Delhi Belly‘s Shenaz Treasurywala.