Anurag Basu decodes the ‘whimsical’ world of ‘Ludo’

Bedika
·4-min read

New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) Director Anurag Basu’s love for the absurd is on full display in “Ludo”, a movie inspired by the popular indoor game, which the filmmaker says gave him a chance to blend different genres to create a comical world.

Basu, best known for marrying commerce with his out-of-box stories such as “Life in A… Metro”, “Barfi!” and “Jagga Jasoos”, is at his creative best as he juggles multiple storylines and different sets of characters in the movie, slated to premiere on Netflix on November 12.

The dark comedy anthology features the talented cast of Abhishek A Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapur, Rajkummar Rao, Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Rohit Saraf, Pearle Maaney, Pankaj Tripathi, Asha Negi, Shalini Vats and Inayat Verma.

“The idea was to create an absurd, whimsical world and characters. When we started thinking about making a movie, we thought of something that combines four-five genres together, keeps the audience engaged and makes them laugh,” Basu, 46, told PTI in a Zoom interview.

The movie borrows the four colours of the game with each shade dominating a different segment - red in Bachchan and Verma, blue in Saraf and Maaney, green in Rao and Shaikh and yellow in Kapur and Malhotra's case.

These characters cross each other's paths thanks to Tripathi's endearing gangster Sattu, representing the dice.

Basu said he wrote the role of Sattu with the 'Mirzapur' star in mind.

“You can’t play ludo without a dice, similarly, you cannot make the film without Sattu. His character can affect any story. He is like the domino effect so much so that a story’s crisis can become the happy ending for the other.

“Sattu is unpredictable. He is the villain in everybody’s story but in the process he gets his own story. His unpredictability really helps the film. There is no right or wrong in the story, we never mark things like that. Sattu is right in his place.” While Tripathi’s Sattu lends unpredictability to the story, Basu making a reference to the coronavirus pandemic in a cameo as one of the two narrators in the film makes it more contemporary.

“I had kept the narrator portions for a later date thinking that it will help in tying the film together depending on the length. We had just a day of shoot left when the lockdown happened. We were one of the first units on the sets. This is why there is a mention of COVID-19 pandemic because everyone around us was in PPE kits and masks.

“I think the film became contemporary because of it, the morality or the thought of the film suits the situation. But the line was not in the script, it was an improvisation.” There is a treasure trove of references and details for movie buffs to spot in the background but one thing that is unmistakable in Basu’s filmography is his love for trains and there is an abundance of such shots in “Ludo”.

The director believes it comes from his fascination for the trains.

“My editors also tell me ‘Dada, you have too many train shots in your film’. The fascination that I have with trains is something that you can spot in every film be it ‘Jagga…’, ‘Barfi!’ or this one. Whenever I think of a sequence, there is a train automatically. Even today, if I have time, I like travelling by trains.” For the film’s music, the director has gone with his usual collaborator, Pritam, except for one song, 'Kismat ki hawa kabhi naram, kabhi garam' from 1951 movie 'Albela', starring Bhagwan Dada and Geeta Bali.

The director said he loved the song and decided to go with it as it fit the theme of the story well.

“There was a situation where Sattu is singing. We had the option of making a new song or use an existing one. If I had made a song, it would be on the same lines. So I got the rights. It is a sweet song and something that I have grown up listening.” Asked about the political commentary in the film through Kapur’s character of a stand-up comedian, Basu said the idea was to not go overboard with anything and change the intention of the film.

“The aim of the film is to make people laugh and not give any political message. It is just there and goes with Aditya’s character and what his beliefs are.” PTI BK RDS RDS