Ladies Up review: Netflix's all-women comedy offering falls short of being a poignant commentary on womanhood

Shreya Paul

Ladies Up, Netflix's new all-women stand-up special, had all the necessary ingredients to become a rib-tickling saga of first-hand experiences that leading women of comedy undergo on a day-to-day basis. In a country still struggling to find its position on the global map of liberalism, humour, especially from female comics, stands as a crucial mouthpiece.

Netflix's impressive line-up, beginning with new-found talents like Prashasti Singh, Supriya Joshi, Niveditha Prakasam and the seasoned Kaneez Surka, only embellishing an already-rich pit of content. Or at least one would like to think so. The Netflix mini-series had the right intentions, but unfortunately, the comediennes failed to live up to the title.

The Indian comedy scene, till very recently, depended heavily upon regionalistic humour ("All the Gujju people in the house give me a cheer"; "What is the one similarity between a Sindhi and a Marwari" or what have you). But within a couple of years, the aesthetic changed and fortunately discarded these degraded tactics for quick laughs.

For the women, the journey presumably had a rocky start, with only a handful on the forefront. Surka, of course, was a pioneer, but barring her and Aditi Mittal, there were hardly any women doing the job. Fortunately, that changed after reality shows like Comicstaan produced young talent, who came up with extremely fresh content. Prashasti's bit on the show about modern relationships and commitment phobia was lauded for the acute self-deprecation that she managed to achieve, all the while spewing hard truths. Prakasam even lifted the trophy at the end of Queens of Comedy.

But as much as we'd like to keep bolstering female talent on to the fore, Ladies Up felt almost like a repeat telecast of Comicstaan, with only Surka's bit coming in as a relief.

Prashasti Singh headlined the Netflix mini series

Prashasti Singh headlined the Netflix mini-series

Prashasti, who featured in the first episode, seems to not have moved on from tales of her dating shenanigans at all. Singh revolved her set around the same I-will-never-have-a-happily-ever-after drawl which does a disservice to her talents as a comedian as well as wastes her position to make a difference.

Supriya Joshi

Supriya Joshi

Supriya Joshi, on the other hand, showed promise when beginning her bit, drawing references to a fictional version of herself who is delusional about her relationship with a f**kboy. But it soon deteriorated to unfunny anecdotes on her dating life.

Niveditha Prakasam

Niveditha Prakasam

Prakasam genuinely tried to introduce a cultural angle to her set by referring to the North-South divide that India, till date, grapples with. But most of her jokes landed without punches.

Surka however, like the true-blue veteran, saved the day with a hilarious section on the social stigma surrounding divorced women. Kaneez took on bold subjects to play around with, openly confessing about her need to become a mother. Whether it was an honest retelling of her grandparents' failed marriage, or a detailed set about her pathetic wedding day, Surka was unabashed and charmingly vulnerable.

Through her incisive observations, Surka dissected the hypocrisy that Indian society harbours beneath the sheen of propriety and decency €" "After you are divorced, it's almost like the entire society gives up on you. They're like 'Now you can do whatever you want to, we won't judge, so be happy'."

She continued with a delightfully jarring section on how her sex life altered post her desire to become a mother. In a vivid description, Kaneez shared how she would often cradle her lovers like children only to their utmost shock and despair. This garnered huge laughs from viewers. One could almost feel the discomfort that many male audience members were having while Kaneez performed to the hilt €" which was further proof of her comedic brilliance.

Considering the series was headlined by few of the best in business, Ladies Up was a far cry from poignant. While Surka's bit was worthy, the other three could pass off as amateurs.  Ladies Up could have said so much more, but it chose to be another fallow addition to the man vs woman debate.

Ladies Up streams on Netflix.

(All images from Netflix)

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