Director: Angshuman Ghosh
Cast: Prashasti Singh, Kaneez Surka, Supriya Joshi, Niveditha Prakasam
Streaming on: Netflix
The ladies bring their B+ games
In Ladies Up, four women are given 15 minutes each to do their shtick. Prashasti Singh gabs about her mother’s inappropriate Facebook poetry to show support of her videos, her inordinate attachment to Uttar Pradesh and kicking a Tinder date gone wrong out of her home. Singh’s set, titled ‘Recently Empowered’ artfully blends storytelling with punchlines, delivering many moments of genuine mirth. However, the title is misleading as her stories aren’t really centred around her becoming empowered, except for the one on the disastrous Tinder date.
Joshi holds forth on the joys of living in Malad, dating a fuckboy, flavoured condoms and getting the perfect revenge bod. Joshi has often stated that she considers Bollywood actor Govinda as her main inspiration and it’s not hard to see why. She borrows from the actor’s love for physical comedy as she performs her set, ‘Love Hurts’. And she’s good at it too, especially the bit in which she mimes a condom taste tester’s day at work. Yet Joshi’s set could’ve done with snappier punchlines and tighter storytelling.
Prakasam begins her set, ‘Don’t Mind Me’ by discussing how she’s often mistaken for men, specifically Sundar Pichai. She then goes on to reveal that when she was growing up in Coimbatore, the bus conductor was the most eligible man in town (this ends with easily one of the best punchlines of the series). She talks about how Tamil movies are doing a great disservice to both Tamil men and women and that Tamils definitely discriminate against people on the basis of their skin colour. While Prakasam’s self-deprecating humour is charming, her set is the least fun as her content is less relatable. As a result, Ladies Up, which starts with a bang and escalates the comedy stakes, ends on a whimper.
Kaneez Surka is the MVP of the series
Surka is terrific in her set ‘It’s Kaneez, Let Her Do’. She talks about being a divorcee with elan and tells stories of growing up in South Africa. Not only does Surka nail comic timing and punchlines, she looks like she’s having a lot of fun. Surka narrates anecdotes with an infectious joie de vivre, conjuring vivid scenes in your mind’s eye.
The core of Surka’s set is her experience of divorce, which she says is the best thing to have happened to her. For instance, it gives her the licence to say and do as she pleases at weddings. Her behaviour is excused by folks who say, “She’s a divorcee, let her do.” However, the story that sticks with you is a sad one about her bidai. She admits she knew she made a mistake the minute she got married. Humour can be poignant too, and it takes a truly nuanced comedian to mine pain for laughter.
Four women show off their comedic chops in 15-minute sets. Kaneez Surka is hands down the best of the lot.