Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ladies Vs. Ricky Bahl - A Review [4]

Ladies Vs. Ricky Bahl

Girl meets boy. Boy falls in love with her mother. Girl cries. Boy agrees to marry her with an ulterior motive that the overprotective father of the bride knows but does not mind since he knows it is the best way he can keep his beloved daughter close to him even if it means he has to bear the ass (pun intended) We have all seen this story again and again in Hindi films [1] and yet once in a while a movie uses the same tale but spins it and presents it with such a fresh twist that the audience relishes it like it would a finely aged European wine or South Indian yogurt, if only it were discerning enough [7]

The documentary, 'Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl' is not that type of a fictional tale. 'Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl' is a social critique. It showcases the insecurities, fears and - what model, film-star and eminent sociologist Gul Panag calls "the indignities that women face in the North"[2] Although, abundant with dramatization of real life events, in some cases while covering the event live, "Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl" is an epoch making documentary which certainly has
triggered a new era in Indian Neo-Realistic Documentary Film-making. For all the detractors of Bollywood who have criticized Indian documentaries like "Didi Tera Devar Diwana" (or whatever the name of that movie was where the conspicuously Maharashtrian looking actress dies and Mohnish Bahl her on-screen and real life husband - Ricky Bahl's uncle - has to marry his sister lest he should be forced to die on his ex-wife's funeral pyre owing to the horrendous Indian practice of Nar-Sati widely practiced in the 90s but now abolished by law) or "Dildo Pagal Hai" (the abuse of sexual paraphernalia prevalent in the NRI community i.e its use for extra-sexual activities like beating eggs - pun unintended - for omlettes) for being unrealistic, "Ladies Vs. Ricky Bahl" will silence their annoyingly holier-than-thou tone.

Anushka Singh plays Rinki, the unusually light skinned Punjabi girl who seeks an upper- caste North Indian man from a business family with a modern outlook yet who is deeply rooted in Traditional Indian Values (c) (or what the cool kids are now calling - TIV!) , meets the disappointingly middle-class looking but characteristically 'US-Return' Ricky Bahl (played by Ricky Bahl) at the US Embassy at Mumbai. "[Ricky] has the looks and he's got the charm and is tall and has a beard. He could have the pick of the ladies. But love isn't Ricky's priority - money is!" [8]He orders the Rs 150 latte and Rs 300 Chicken Sandwich which Anushka Singh sees and rolls her eyes. The embassy is mostly populated by ugly people (by standards of young people of age less than thirty) and hence the two good looking youngsters, who have no patience to read a book - "even if the arrogant ghati security guards would let them take one in the waiting room" [5][6], have nothing better to do but to engage in a gratuitous game of sexual tension. Soon they start talking about shopping, designer labels, latest technology, cool apps and all the other things that you people like these days. This is when Anushka Singh introduces herself as Anushka Singh to Ricky. This makes Ricky very suspicious because the name of her character is Rinki. From this point onwards the movie stops being a regular boy-meets-girl tale with shameless product placement and starts engaging the audience in to a two hour riveting crime thriller with shameless product placements.

Ricky observes that Anushka Singh has a Louis Vuitton Bag. Ordinarily this bag costs a fortune. Ricky knows Anushka can not afford that kind of money so he decides to take down her number and stalks her in America. He soon finds out that Anushka buys most of her expensive looking apparel and accessories from SoHo (or is it West Village. Where do you get the smuggled and fake products in NYC?) Ricky Bahl decides to follow the tradition of Upton Sinclair and other great muckrakers and dedicates the next two years of his life investigating the trade, the clientele, the statistics, the demographics of this illegal market. He writes a two page editorial for the New York Times and wins a Pulitzer Prize for the role of Best Actor in an Indian Film, incidentally the first Indian and first Non-American to ever win a Pulitzer. After this high profile expose which ends up indicting Women of the World, in general and Indian Women in particular, the Feminist Left criticizes Ricky for being a "corporate whore" and for being, and rightly so, anti-woman. To which Ricky Bahl responds in a front page editorial in the Washington Post with only the following words, "Yap Yap Yap" and a picture of his hand in a formation alluding to the infamous hand gesture meant to represent a garrulous woman. This article also receives great praise and accolades from the liberal establishment.

After this event, the Ladies decide to ex[tr]act revenge. The post-interval hour is about how the Ladies teach Ricky Bahl a lesson.

Editing by Sam "Final Cut" Subramanium is superb and the cinematography by Rkved Parulekar is brilliant. After a long time has a Hindi Film depicted Indian women in such a good light. Most women look as fair, both in complexion and sensibility, with the random blondes that dance around Ricky Bahl in the songs. This is in part due to the good light. The music by A. R Rahman is brilliant as usual. It has the perfect blend of Indian melodies and Western music much like a perfect blend of Chai Tea Latte and Lemon Juice, that is to say that the perfect blend in this context of course entails almost no Indian melody.

Do not the miss the beginning if you are a fan of literary criticism. The duel between Ricky Bahl and literary critic Terry Eagleton has been brilliantly choreographed by Vijayan "Hong Kong" Shetty . Ricky Bahl delivers a Howard Roark [9] style monologue, that has been dubbed the, "Welcome to the Hotline. I am the Sub-Altern, how can I help you today?"[10] speech by Bahlites - as fans of Ricky Bahl around the world call themselves. This lays the foundation of the movie and unless and every word of Ricky's Rant is assimilated, it will be hard to contextualize the rest of the movie.

Ladies Vs. Ricky Bahl doesn't just have the intellectual quotient for the college going audience member but also entertainment quotient for the college going audience member. That is to say, it just does not have Ricky Bahl, it also has them Ladies - if you know-i-sayin'. The eight rocking "Item Numbers" have rocked the charts [3] Item Number - C3456821789 has especially been very popular. This number will surely set the groove at every bar [11] around the world. Contrary to the prevailing trend of presenting an item flanked by European women in skimpy outfits who lip-sync to the chorus lines like "That's the way to Rock the party" or "Loooooove". For example typically when the Indian person center stage says, "Mere dil ka tudka hai tu", the conservatively clad White Women (c) go, "That's the way to rocky my party". Instead, all the eight Item Numbers in this fascinating movie involve the screen completely still with the Item Number presented in a bold large font with the name of the Item, the Vendor Name, the website and other such vital info. The Item Numbers screens will presumably be programmable and have gift card /discount coupon entries on the DVD/Blu-ray release. This is a path breaking innovation.

To sum up, Ladies get set to experience "Ricky Bahl Ka Tashan". The chest-shaven, long haired, sexy phenomenon will rob your hearts and not to mention, rock your party - unless of course its a Feminist Party.

[1] snarkily once called 'Bollywood' by the West, a title now proudly accepted by the shining India
[2] paraphrased from her monologue on 'We The People' where she argues that women feel safe in Mumbai because in general the South of India is less patriarchal.
This, of course, she does on a panel discussing the gruesome murders of two young men in Mumbai after they tried to protect their female friends from a
group of men who were sexual harassing them. The reader is advised to evaluate the characterization of Ms. Panag's words which admittedly could be quite
misrepresented due to laziness, lack of intellectual rigor and sheer sensationalism on the part of this writer. If Ms. Panag is reading this, and let's face it, she is not, my apologies.
[3] Does Indian Music Industry actually have charts? This idiom doesn't apply to our movie. Why do we use it?
[4] The views described here are not of the author or of anybody really. The movie was not really and will not really be viewed, though perhaps you should. It might be alright.
[5] Most high-profile enemies of the Indian state charged or suspected of seditious activities have been readers or writers of Books. Therefore Books are considered to be a security risk in India.
[6] Quotes mine. The scornful word "ghati" is a term of derision applied to Marathi speakers in Mumbai. It is a legitimate non-pejorative demonym for people who hail from or reside on the Western Ghats region of Maharashtra. However, it is considered pejorative by the 'Kokanis'/'Konkanis' of the Coastal region of Maharashtra, presumably because they consider it insulting to be associated with their neighbours(?) Hence now it is considered to be pejorative by most Marathi speakers. English Educated Maharashtrians (yes, you fucKars from Bombay Scottish) sanitize the word of its 'vernacular' last vowel and self-describe as "Ghaats". This sounds cooler and very 21st century. Amateur Social Historian and Bigot Rahul Venkatraman refers to them as "Upperclass Ghatis" with a supposed sense of discernment from the working class scum that he hates and wants to exterminate. That might be false, but what is true is what it tells us about Rahul.
[7] - the audience that is, not the yogurt. Yogurt might be a living culture but is not sentient, marketing campaigns not withstanding.
[8] Premise, Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladies_vs_Ricky_Bahl
[9] Influential psychopathic hero of the shit book - Fountain Head, Ayn Rand.
[10] A critical rebuttal to Gayatri Spivak's "Can the sub-altern speak?"
[11] Couldn't get a a good pun going on item number/ bar code. Please comment/contact me if you can construct something. Citation 11 will be yours if you come up with something interesting.

3 comments:

Ladies VS Ricky Bahl said...

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Archana said...

Hahaha! Good one - especially the footnotes, and I do hope Gul Panang is reading this!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Archana.

But given that poor Gul Panag was herself groped and sexually harassed in Delhi when she ran the Delhi Half marathon, to sarcastically take a stab at her with a tone that might seem like "what does she, a celebrity, know about all this?" (which was not the intention) now seems in bad taste.

To her credit, Ms. Panag seems like a strong woman capable of understanding the grave issue of sexual harassment of women that is quite a huge problem in India, bringing it to a public forum and dealing with it beyond the frivolous flippant handling of it in the media.

Baby V