Ladies and Gentlemen: Socially disconnected

January 30, 2015 06:37 pm | Updated 09:10 pm IST

Ladies and Gentlemen explores the sinister side of social networking.

Ladies and Gentlemen explores the sinister side of social networking.

Facebook reportedly has more than 1.4 billion users. Somewhere in this large crowd, there are many random users — those nameless, faceless identities that hide behind a photograph of some popular actress. A sensible person would decline friend requests from such identities. But there are the gullible few, or let’s call them the desperate ones, who befriend these unknown identities masquerading as pretty women, with a profile picture of a Samantha or a Kajal Aggarwal.

Debut director PB Manjunath picks one such college student Krishnamurthi (Chaitanya Krishna) as one of his lead actors for a story he’s written based on real-life cyber crime incidents. Krishnamurthi is a nerd who fails to impress women in his campus and desperately sends friend requests to women on Facebook and befriends Deepa (Swati Dixit). Elsewhere, Priya (Nikita Narayan), bored and annoyed that her husband Anand (Kamal Kamaraju) has no time for her, finds solace in chatting with Rahul (Adivi Sesh), her college friend who reaches out to her after a long time. Then, there’s the call centre employee, played by Mahat Raghavendra, who lives beyond his means and indulges in credit card fraud to fund his lavish lifestyle.

The three stories run parallel to each other, each revealing one of the many ugly sides of social networking. Krishnamurthi and Priya are examples of people who are online from dawn to dusk, sharing updates, liking and commenting on events from their own or their friends’ lives, so much so that real-life relationships take a backseat.

Ladies and GentlemenCast: Adivi Sesh, Chaitanya Krishna, Mahat Raghavendra, Kamal Kamaraju and Nikita Narayan Direction: PB Manjunath Music: Raghu Kunche Bottom line: A good attempt

Priya’s husband is caught up with work commitments and doesn’t realise that all she craves for is some acknowledgement. If she had also been pursuing a career, perhaps, the yawning gap in the relationship wouldn’t have seemed so painful. But she sits and waits for him for days, before walking out of the marriage.

Manjunath makes each of his characters believable, even if we don’t really identify with them. Krishnamurthi’s story, at first, seems like a silly, misguided love story. There are hints to something sinister, which one of his friends points out from time to time, and each of these theories get quashed. We wait, wondering what the lurking danger is. There are enough hints to know which way Priya’s story would go. Mahat’s story is shaky and dark from the beginning. This is a guy who refuses to pay rents on time, will try to hoodwink small time goons from whom he borrows money and yet, will buy the latest smart phone and dole out money to his girlfriend, an aspiring actress (Jasmin Bhasin).

The stories get darker as they progress and the film doesn’t gloss over cyber crime. The songs, thankfully, don’t slow down the film’s pace. The title track by Raghu Kunche and the background score are apt.

A lot of thought has gone into the screenplay and as the loose ends are tied up towards the end, it’s evident that many earlier sequences and supporting characters have all been there for a reason.

On the flip side, some of the actors don’t lend the film the necessary gravitas. Amateurish expressions and body language are a letdown. Adivi Sesh, Chaitanya, Kamal and Mahat befit their parts. The cinematography is also a dampener. Despite the shortcomings, it’s commendable that the film doesn’t stick to the formula and play safe.

Somewhere during that lengthy sequence where the modus operandi of credit card fraud is shown, at least a few viewers would think twice before handing over a credit card at a restaurant or retail store. With that, the director has made his point. But while at it, one wishes that the brighter side of social networking had also be shown. After all, Facebook and Twitter do have their merits.

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