Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan
Direction: Abhishek Chaubey
Duration: 2 hours
Story: Two crooks, Khalu Jaan and Babban are on the run from another crook they have duped. They seek refuge with a friend's widow who turns out to be as crooked as them. The threesome hatch a plot to get rich quick. But, do they succeed?
Movie Review: Ishqiya is a zany little black comedy that may be completely desi in its idiom, its lingo, its landscape. Yet, when it comes to drama, it is totally Hollywood. Debutant director Abhishek Chaubey tells his story with a panache that falters only in the end. Ironically, if he hadn't faltered in winding up this delectable little tale of a wicked trio, with nothing to lose not even their morals -- he would have created a masterpiece. But the last few reels are so much of a rumble-tumble, they leave you both confused and somewhat dissatisfied.
But till you reach the slipshod resolution of the story, Ishqiya is pure delight. Both in terms of the narrative that moves from one tangy twist to another; and in terms of the performances, which are so zippy, they fill you with beans. Naseeruddin Shah lives and breathes the role of the wily and somewhat wizened Khalu Jaan who doesn't balk at falling on his would-be assassin's feet, begging for mercy. Nor does he see anything amiss in colouring his beard black, when the wily widow, Krishna (Vidya Balan) sets his testosterone in play with her seductive song and guile. But Arshad Warsi doesn't want to be left behind as Babban, the rustic rogue and matches him crooked step for step. And the duo are totally bindaas as rivals in love, ready to beat each other to pulp for the charms of Krishnaji. As for Krishnaji: Vidya Balan truly deserves another wow after her scintillating show in Paa. This time, she does a complete volte face to her Parineeta image, flashing her eyes, sucking thumbs and setting out the details for a kidnap plot, with unbridled glee. Truly, this ones a magical threesome that sets the explosive backdrop literally on fire with their everything's-fair-in-love -- and petty crime -- principles.
Adding juice to their antics is the backdrop. The backwater badlands of Eastern UP, with their characteristic gun culture, caste wars and edgy lingo loom large as the fourth character in this crime play. And like the other three, this one's an intensely colourful character too, competently captured on screen by cinematographer Mohana Krishna. Equally enhancing is Vishal Bhardwaj's music score which already has two chartbusters on air: Ibn-e-Batuta and Dil To Bachcha Hai.
In Ishqiya lingo, the film is a sutli bomb (firecracker) that tickles and explodes. But for the hurried and harried end. Go, have a blast.
A word about:
Performances: Excellent, all. The trio of Naseeruddin, Arshad Warsi and Vidya Balan are eminently watchable as they unleash the various shades of the human psyche.
Story: Vishal Bhardwaj, Sabrina Dhawan and Abhishek Chaubey have a winning script that unfolds with panache, faltering only in the end. The climax is clumsy.
Dialogue: Vishal Bhardwaj gives the dialogue an earthy, rustic feel and rightfully captures the spirit of the hinterland.
Cinematography: Mohana Krishna captures the backwaters of Eastern UP with all their laid-back charm, perfectly and poetically.
Music: the audio track is a winner all the way with the Vishal Bhardwaj-Gulzar duo creating chartbusters like the peppy Ibn-e-Batuta and the soulful Dil to Bachcha Hai.