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TIFF ’23: LOST LADIES Infuses Humour And Wholesomeness Into A Story About Empowerment

Kiran Rao’s feature film debut was in 2010 with Dhobi Ghat, resulting in a 13-year gap until her next film, Lost Ladies. The new movie, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival 2023, definitely one-ups her previous directorial, in a very interesting and fascinating way. Check out my Lost Ladies review to see why you should absolutely be waiting for this incredibly uplifting and persuasive film.

Please note that this Lost Ladies review is completely spoiler-free.

Lost Ladies Has A Simple Premise With Layers In Its Execution

Lost Ladies review bike.

Rao’s Lost Ladies (Laapataa Ladies in Hindi) is about two young women from rural India, who are arranged married, without much say of their own in the process. As is the norm in certain areas of India. During a long journey in a train full of newly married couples on their way to start their new life, the two women lose their husbands. This one mistake creates ripples in the lives of these two couples, as well as many others in their orbit.

On paper, Lost Ladies sounds like a mad-cap comedy about mistaken identity and all the hilariousness that ensues. But I’m so happy to discuss in this Lost Ladies review that the movie is anything but a comedy. There are a lot of light-hearted moments and wholesome sequences, making it a highly entertaining movie that is accessible to all. And it’s Rao’s genius in storytelling that also allows the film to discuss certain issues, without preaching to or lecturing the audience.

Lost Ladies Review Is Completely Spoiler-Free

Lost Ladies review Kishen.

In many ways, Lost Ladies does what Barbie did this summer in Hollywood. It features an inciting incident that is outrageous but uses it to discuss social issues like women’s rights and patriarchy in a way that is entertaining and engaging, without becoming a PSA. Rao is able to package Lost Ladies with relatable characters, a sweet love story and so much heart. All the while discussing topics that can be labelled feminist, by those who use the word derogatorily.

The story is about Phool (Nitansh Goel) and Jaya (Prabhita Ranta), two women who, through this devastating misadventure of being without their husbands, learn about the world and their place in it. While Phool represents the innocence of young women who become indoctrinated with sexist and misogynistic values that are prevalent in society, Jaya rages against that system.

Through these two characters, writers Sneha Desai and Biplab Goswami showcase the plight of women in Indian society, without the heavy-handed-ness that usually accompanies that message. Through Jaya, Desai and Goswami use the established stereotypes and society’s rules about women, to her advantage, navigating this male-centric world she finds herself in.

Successfully Blending Entertainment And Awareness Of Important Issues

Lost Ladies review train.

Rao is also able to direct this young cast of immensely talented actors, getting some of the best performances I’ve seen out of them. Deepak (Sparsh) is wonderful as the husband who genuinely loves his new wife and is absolutely shattered when he loses her. And Goel amazingly portrays the innocence of Phool without getting cliched or too overbearing. And Ranta as Jaya is so powerful and commanding, and gives Jaya a lot of agency and drive. It’s on the backs of these performances that Lost Ladies is compelling, emotional and just an incredible experience.

Supporting the young cast is veteran actor Ravi Kishen as the police officer assigned to this case of the lost ladies. Kishen shines in a role that he truly makes his own, as the veteran local cop who tries to find his own benefit in every case that comes across his desk.

Kiran Rao Creates Another Masterpiece Of Cinema With Lost Ladies

At the end of the day, my overall impression in this Lost Ladies review is that Kiran Rao needs to direct more films. Both Dhobi Ghat and Lost Ladies are what I would consider masterpieces of cinema. While the former has a devastating ending, the latter is a lot more uplifting and hopeful, while still depicting the harsh realities of the world. It’s a highly entertaining movie that can appeal to all audiences, of all ages.

Lost Ladies premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2023.

The film releases in theatres on January 5, 2024.

Are you excited to check out Rao’s second film Lost Ladies? Let me know in the comments below and follow me on Twitter (X) at @theshahshahid for more TIFF ’23 coverage and reviews.

TIFF ’23: LOST LADIES Portrays Women’s Empowerment Without Actively Preaching It
  • Acting - 9.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 9.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 9/10
  • Watchability - 10/10
  • Rewatchability - 8.5/10
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