Ladki Review– Dragons never looked this good! ****
-By Vedant Gill
Cast: Pooja Bhalekar, Parth Suri, Abhimanyu Singh, TianLong Shi and Rajpal Yadav
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
It was in 1996 when Ram Gopal Varma's Rangeela won 6 Filmfare Awards and was nominated in 8 more categories!
26 years later, RGV transforms another Marathi mulgi from martial artist to glam eye-turner. And how!
Pooja Bhalekar, after being a Taekwondo black belt, honed her skills with three years of learning Jeet Kune Do to play the protagonist who is in love with Bruce Lee.
In this film, Pooja is the bikini clad bombshell who can effortlessly break ribs, but somewhere in her journey, Ram Gopal Varma walks the path, and that is evident in his mounting of this Bruce Lee-inspired story.
If Urmila Matondkar was the muse in Rangeela, Pooja in Ladki is simply RGV paying his tribute to Bruce Lee.
Victory does not come without great personal loss, said Bruce Lee.
Taking this line forward, this action love triangle is about a self-taught fighter whose pain transforms her into a dragon of sorts. Her fists of fury, laser-like focus and her love for Bruce Lee makes her into the formidable, lethal yet sensuous Girl Dragon. Pooja Bhalekar, who has choreographed her own fights in the film, guided only by RGV, does not just give action a new meaning, but is a source of inspiration and empowerment to girls. After seeing this film, many women will turn to martial arts to turn their bodies into temples of strength. Pooja is as good with her histrionics as she is with her action. And that is the three years of dedication and faith in her guru RGV that speaks.
She can effortlessly do splits in the air, punch with panache and redefine the perception of the fantasy Baywatch babe in red into a woman of steel.
The supporting characters however do not get their journeys, as they are simply placed to be the props who aid Pooja's character kick her way to the top.
The film subverts tropes of men chasing helpless women, instead having us see the men running for their lives.
The storyline is a simple one of a young helpless girl who sees her sister get raped and die, and learns to fight watching Bruce Lee films, the Ekalavya way. She fights for what is right, falls in love, falls out of it, only to realize that there is just one man who will invisibly hold her hand. And that is Bruce Lee.
The coordination, agility, balance, footwork and speed of martial arts are effortlessly transformed into sensuous dance numbers by RGV. Hatt Sala is one such hit number that takes dance expression to newer heights.
Watch this film for Pooja Bhalekar. She is here to stay. Watch this film for RGV's passion for Bruce Lee and filmmaking that releases to 47530 screens worldwide, an all-time record that will take an era for even the Khans to beat. Watch this film for the amazing original background score that stirs raw passion for action in audiences. Watch the film for sheer entertainment, leaving a judge, jury and hangman attitude behind. Watch the film for the thrill of bikini fights on the beach and raw flex appeal of Pooja Bhalekar. Watch the film to see how a diminutive Ladki instead of letting flames engulf her, becomes the fire. And breaks both bones and egos of bullies, without body doubles or harnesses effortlessly. And You will truly come out empowered!