“The Laapataa Ladies” is a review of an Indian arranged-marriage comedy that explores themes of Shakespearean drama.

Estimated read time 2 min read


Kiran Rao’s Mumbai Diaries, set in 2001 rural India, follows two newlywed couples on a train journey to their new homes in different villages. In a hurry to switch trains at night, one groom accidentally grabs the wrong woman’s hand and takes her with him. The mistake is only realized upon reaching his village. Those expecting a scandalous comedy similar to British sitcoms of the past will be let down, but will still find the gentle humor and drama entertaining.

It may not be as unlikely as it seems: both marriages are arranged, meaning that the couples are not acquainted with each other, and the brides are both wearing similar red bridal attire. Moreover, it is late, dark, and overcrowded…so just try to go along with it. There is an argument that the traditional unlikelihood of the mix-up places the story in the realm of Shakespearean comedies, where individuals often pretend to be long-lost siblings of the opposite gender. The supporting cast further emphasizes this, with Chhaya Kadam portraying a no-nonsense owner of a tea shop and Ravi Kishan playing a stern police officer, reminiscent of the type of character roles that Miriam Margolyes or Simon Russell Beale could play in an English-language version.

However, there are many aspects of Laapataa Ladies that are deeply rooted in cultural traditions, so an English translation may not be suitable. The screenplay, written by Sneha Desai, Biplab Goswami, and Divyanidhi Sharma, accurately portrays the social nuances faced by women in this particular setting – Pratibha Ranta and Nitanshi Goel portray characters with contrasting views on their arranged marriages and find themselves in very different circumstances due to a mix-up. The film does not completely denounce arranged marriages, nor does it overly romanticize them, but rather delicately explores different perspectives.

Source: theguardian.com

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