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November 13, 2015

Denver Film Festival: Ludo


Q & Nikon - 2015
Starfire Films

Q, otherwise known as Qaushiq Mukherjee, made his mark with the anarchic Gandu, seen at a past Denver Film Festival. That film was intriguing enough for me to check out his documentary, Love in India when that film was available on Netflix Instant. Q has since been aiming for more mainstream approval - his previous film, Tasher Desh was inspired by the writings Rabindranath Tagore, although his take on the same material is undoubtedly different from that of Satyajit Ray. In collaboration with the editor of that last film, Nikon, Q has made an even more commercial film. That attempt has apparently paid off as the Bengali filmmaker is to make a Hindi remake.

I'm not sure if Ludo would get much attention on this side of the globe. The couple of Herschell Gordon Lewis moments of gore, where an eyeball gets plucked out, and a tongue is ripped out of a poor guy's mouth, may appall the art house crowd, if they haven't been driven out by Bengali heavy metal and techno music on the soundtrack. The horror crowd might find Ludo relatively tame, with not enough horrific moments in between the shots of smeared blood.

The set-up of two young couples seems familiar enough. Two girls go out with two guys. Mom tells her daughter that she's dressed like a slut, though in a contemporary Bollywood film, she would be considered overdressed. Unable to find a hotel that will accommodate this quartet, one of the girls decides that the group should hide out in a mall in part to take advantage of the air-conditioning. The quartet thinks they are alone in the dark, dimly lit mall, when an older couple appear. The man looks like an aged hippie, while the woman has scar over her right eye. The four younger people are invited to play a strange game involving dice. And somehow the mall elevator has turned into a portal to a kind of hell.

Ludo is an actual game, related to the better known Pachesi. The film also offers a brief view of Kolkata by night, traveling by motor-bike. That this is to be the beginning of a franchise should also be of no surprise.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 13, 2015 08:55 AM