Kiran Rao’s (Dhobi Ghat, TIFF ’10) sophomore romp finds two young brides in India in 2001 accidentally swapped before their big day.
Set in 2001 in rural India, this sophomore romp by Kiran Rao (Dhobi Ghat, TIFF ’10) finds two young brides hilariously entwined in a riot of mistaken identities.
New brides Jaya (Pratibha Ranta) and Phool (Nitanshi Goel), veiled in their crimson, filigreed marital saris, are accidentally swapped when Phool’s timid groom Deepak (Sparsh Shrivastava) mistakenly escorts Jaya out of their overnight train. Now, self-possessed and secretive Jaya temporarily enters Deepak’s joint family, while docile and fragile Phool finds herself abandoned at a remote railway station.
Soon, Phool is befriended by a railway urchin and his accomplice, and sheltered by the coarse but matronly tea kiosk owner Manju Mai (Chhaya Kadam). Jaya, on the other hand, experiences doting sisterhood, innocent flirtation, and an opportunity to flex her intellect in Deepak’s raucous household. Meanwhile, in a gradually unfurling investigation led by goofy and power-tripping local police officer Shyam Manohar (Ravi Kishan), the grooms cluelessly search for their respective wives.
Merrily paced to a tinkering and hummable score, Lost Ladies at first feels like a vibrant heist film. But it gradually exceeds this conceit, offering clever commentary in the farce of patriarchal matrimony and its stifling demands on women. Effervescently filmed, with an impressive ensemble cast, Rao’s charming, whimsical hoot untangles its labyrinthine web of kinships with a surprising depth and an endearing hilarity. At once a comedy of errors and a feminist coming-of-age tale, Lost Ladies packs a punch in more ways than one.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival