Ladies vs Ricky Bahl
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Starring: Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Parineeta Chopra and Dippanita Sharma
Loosely based on the 2006 vehicle John Tucker Must Die, Maneesh Sharma's comedy gives proof to the maxim "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned".
Three very different women come together seeking revenge on a man who has used his bulging biceps, sweet tongue and criminal mind to steal money from their families and businesses. The conman is played by Ranveer Singh, who worked with the director Maneesh Sharma on the 2010 wedding-planning hit Band Baaja Baaraat. Like a Bollywood villain from the 1970s, Singh makes great use of his facial hair to create each of his personas.
Clean-shaven in Mumbai, he woos an unsuspecting high-school pupil Dimple Chaddha (Parineeti Chopra). She is young, easily led and ready to do anything for her love, including lying to her parents about her whereabouts and pleading with her father to help him recover a property he claims to have lost in a property dispute. All this and the film's worst song take place before the credits roll - forecasting a long two hours ahead.
The next segment takes place in Delhi, with the bearded rogue duping the high-flying businesswoman Raina (Dipannita Sharma) into buying a fake painting for her company. Singh is at his best playing a debonair character with smart clothes and a fresh attitude. The song he sings puts it most succinctly: "I want to be debited in every woman's bank account."
He's also at the centre of some criminal plot devices. The worst comes when a television news item is used to connect these two stories and a third, involving a Muslim widow named Saira (Aditi Sharma) who is being conned by the now-mustachioed trickster in Lucknow. The girls get on the phone to each other, recount their tales of woe, it all clicks and they use a telephone ringtone to track down the fraudster in Goa. By this time, the audience may long since have started to feel that they've been fleeced of their entrance fee.
The girls hatch a master plan to use the beautiful supermarket girl Ishika (Anushka Sharma) as bait to woo the fraudster before turning the tables on him. The girls describe it as making "the butcher become the calf". There is a Bond girl-style introduction for Ishika as she climbs out of a swimming pool in front of her unsuspecting admirer. Meanwhile, the three other girls are orchestrating the proceedings: spying and pulling the strings while unable to overcome their own petty jealousies and foibles. The predictable plot uses the cheapest trick in the movie book, the overheard conversation, to give the story one final twist as the movie veers away from comic caper into romance territory.
Yet, no matter how many personas Ricky Bahl takes on, he can never find the right character, or chemistry, to overcome the second-hand, counterfeit storyline.