Kiran Rao makes a strong case for women’s empowerment, education and equality without disparaging men or resorting to prejudice, as shown in a line mocking regressive dowry attitudes.

After a 14-year gap since her haunting directorial debut Dhobi Ghat, Kiran Rao has returned with the sharp social satire ‘Laapataa Ladies’ (Lost Ladies), set in rural India.

This dramedy stuns with its clever commentary on patriarchy and heartfelt depiction of sisterly bonds.

Rao deftly balances meaningful messaging with delightful entertaining moments, ensuring the social critique never becomes overbearing.

Watch the trailer for Laapataa Ladies (Lost Ladies) here.

Through humour and the metaphor of the ghunghat (veil), she reflects on deep-rooted gender inequalities and their repercussions with a light, slice-of-life storytelling approach.

The family-friendly film provides plenty of food for thought through the acutely observed, flawed yet likable characters penned by Biplab Goswami and Sneha Desai. Ravi Kishan is outstanding as a corrupt yet conscientious cop embodying shades of greed and justice. The
newcomer leads also deliver commendable performances.

A standout scene crystallises the film’s feminist vision – a tea-stall owner, hardened by abuse, chose to live alone rejecting disrespect, telling the protagonist “If those who love you can hit you, I exercised my right too.”

‘Laapataa Ladies’ (Lost Ladies) tramples regressive notions labelling women as “over-smart” or “cunning”, instead stating loudly that a “respectable girl” is society’s biggest fraud for conditioning silence; yet it avoids portraying women as victims, sternly noting there’s no shame in ignorance but being proud of it is shameful.

A delectable blend of heart, mind and humour, Rao’s comeback is an absolute winner.