February 1, 2010 at 12:18 am | Posted in Movies Shoovies | 49 Comments
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After missing Rocket Singh, Avatar(in all D’s), Three Idiots and Sherlock Holmes(thanks to this village where it didn’t release), I was in that crappy state of mind which forces people to watch crap like Vivah thrice.

and then Ishqiya happened.

Devoid of any reasonably tolerable company and this being a not-so-family movie, I decided to go for Ishqiya alone : single and unarmed.

Going to a movie alone isn’t a good idea. You always run the risk of getting a seat in front of a row of giggling girls or aunties who come to the cinema hall to discuss family disputes. Or you may end up with a couple who add to the background score of the movie. Or uncles who scratch their armpits as they stretch and do the multiplex-yoga. But this was a watch-or-die situation. So: first day second show, last row, beech-wali seat.


(Image courtesy: V Love Movies)

To sum it up: Ishqiya feels like having the orgasm first, followed by the foreplay.

Now for the post-mortem. Or maybe not. I am bad at reviewing a movie. Mostly I forget the best parts, ignore what the director ignored and by the time that I am home, I remember the experience and not the movie. Unless I have it on DVD or on my hard drive. Since I don’t have it at the moment, I am not even going to attempt a review. I’ll talk about the movie though.

Ishqiya for me, was an unfinished poem. It is lyrical, it entices and then, when you are gripped, it lets you go. Which hurts. At the end of it,  you even feel cheated. But when you look back at it and remember the time when it had your attention, you forgive it and marvel at  its beauty.

If promos were anything to go by, Ishqiya had Vishal Bharadwaj written all over it – Gorakhpur, Chutiam Sulphate, Rekha Bharadwaj, Gulzar, Betrayal. When you watch the movie, you realize it has Vishal Bharadwaj written, but in a few places. The rest belongs to Abhishek Chaubey. And with a debut like this, I am certainly waiting for more. And for once I am glad that Vishal and others are promoting such talents without calling it, something as banal as, a ‘factory’.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you watch it – Not for the story, not for the music – but for the characters. Each and every one of them. From the greasy don Mushtaq (played by Salman Shahid, who bears a striking resemblance to Tinu Anand in some frames) to the servant-cum-savior Nandu(Alok Kumar) – each and every actor shines in the space given to them. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Because the movie belongs to the trio – Naseeruddin Shah as Ifthikar(fondly called Khalujaan), His nephew Babban(Arshad Warsi) and Vidya Balan as Krishan Verma.

Naseeruddin Shah gives an impeccable performance as Khalujaan. When he’s drunk, you notice the slur. When he speaks Urdu, you notice the nuances. When he is rabid, you notice the sinews. And what comes as a bigger surprise, is Arshad Warsi, who tries to steal the show from Naseeruddin, portraying the nervous Babban, who has an eye for mischief and an innate lust in his kohl-lined eyes. And he almost succeeds.

Almost, because the movie belongs to Vidya Balan. Although the manicured look and the accent seems out of place, her background isn’t known, so I’ll give the director a benefit of doubt here.

But she shines. And how. This movie is in-your-face for people who had written her off after Kismat Konnection. Ishqiya presents Vidya Balan in her most sensual, mysterious and uninhibited avatar. There are no rules for her character. From lecherous to motherly, from scheming to gullible, she transforms into roles seamlessly. Few more movies like this and she’ll soon reach the pedestal where we keep(and treasure) Deepti Naval and Smita Patil. (this could be an exaggeration, am smitten by her raw sensuality).

So if everything is so poetic, every character so flawless, where does Ishqiya falter? Sadly, Ishqiya fails to build up on the hullabaloo created by its promos. In fact, by the time the ‘Tumhara pyar pyar, Humara pyar sex’ dialogue arrives, you have almost lost interest in the plot. This happens, I think, because the director gets confused between keeping the characters and the situation mysterious, and revealing it all in a series of related events.

You may feel that the characters in the movie are poorly etched. I am assuming it is so because the director wanted a touch of mystery around his leading men. He succeeds to maintain that till the first part and then gloriously falters. The movie is exceedingly simple and uni-directional in the first half and then it is all over the place. Sub-plots happen. New characters are introduced and suitably ignored. The equations between the trio change. All this happens in such quick and confused succession that all the charm of the dialogues or the situations is lost.

That said, Ishqiya is a wonderful start to 2010. The dialogues are the icing on the cake. Though the urdu could be tricky at times(which means that I didn’t get it), the blend of Bhopali influence and the UP wallah hindi, is a heady mix. Some dialogues are didactic, others are brutal. And to spice things up, there is profanity, which is put to good use. It not only lends a local flavour to the movie, it also makes for some genuine comic moments.

Though I feel that ‘Chutiam sulphate’ was over used and at places, only a ‘Chutia’ would have been way more effective, that is strictly my opinion. Chutiam Sulphate, as far as vox populi goes, is the cuss word of 2010. Very soon you’ll hear little beggars(or slumdogs as Danny Boyle calls them) using this in casual conversation. And if Chutiam Sulphate is the USP of the movie, so is the kissing scene between Babban and Krishna.

A kiss has been Bollywood’s nemesis. They’ve always found it easy to put two flowers together because flowers don’t emote. Hours after Ishqiya, I watched Kareena suck the soul out of Aamir Khan in a very dementor-like fashion, in Three Idiots. And I remembered the killing chemistry between Vidya and Arshad as they kiss, tease, bite, allure and then devour each other in a scene which, in all probability, can give you a boner in the cinema hall(given you are not surrounded by fat aunties discussing the recipe of Bhindi Bharta). 

Since, by now, I guess you’ve decided to watch Ishqiya, let me drop in a few lines about the cinematography. I don’t really know what cinematography means so let me just say that Ishqiya’s world is as real as yours or mine. The art director(or whoever is responsible) builds a montage of North India, joining the village to the glamorous city. He takes you to temples, to shady beauty parlours, to red light areas, to steel factories – and none of them appears unreal. Krishna’s home cross the canal(or river, not sure) has this rustic charm to it, which lends a different flavour to each scene that it features in.

Did we miss something? Music. I complained on Twitter that the song ‘Dil to baccha hai ji’ didn’t appeal to me. Over a period of time it has grown on me. I still think it isn’t the song that I’d choose to be played on my funeral but Gulzar’s lyrics and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice make it very endearing. But for me, the Ishqiya song will always be – Ab mujhe koi intezaar kahan – Beautiful. Rekha Bharadwaj’s voice lends an amateurish credibility to the lyrics which tell the tale of longing and despair. Beautiful, simply beautiful.


(Image courtesy: V Love Movies)

Ishqiya is a movie that ‘could have been’. It  bears on its shoulder the weight of an unusual cast, a production house known for intelligent movies, music that builds the right amount of pre-release buzz and a promo that reveals and hides the best, at the same time. <insert Siddhu’s bikini analogy> To this burden, it adds bits of Naxalism, Kidnapping rackets and more. And it falls. Understandable, and forgivable. But as a valiant first attempt, as a shining debut in a sea of beaten scripts and clichés, as an experiment which takes three actors known for their supporting roles and puts them together in the lead roles in a commercial movie, as a movie which tells you that you can be real and filmy in the same 2.15 hours – as all that and more, it deserves to be seen. Like the teacher who congratulates the child who comes second with greater eagerness, you must watch this movie.

That’s all, your honour.

P.S.: Also read a ‘real’ review at –

P.P.S: For those of you, who’ve landed here via Google, looking for the meaning of Sulphate in Chutiam/Chutiyam Sulphate, here is the deal: Copper Sulphate – CuSO4 – was somehow mauled in the 80’s and 90’s to ChuSO4, or Chutiyam Sulphate. This actually means the same thing as ‘Chutia’ – which stands for either ‘out of the vagina’ or the more colorful word ‘cunt’ and it may also mean ‘an impotent man’. The choice is yours.

P.P.P.S: This post won the CNN IBN Reader’s Review Contest


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  1. Oh, fab review! And no spoilers, yay! I haven’t dared to read any Ishqiya reviews for fear they’ll give away the whole story. Seeing it on Tuesday, will come back and re-read then.

    • Well, I didn’t want it to become a review, but sadly I failed. But I was sure I am not revealing any spoilers, not even dialogues apart from those that are used in the promo. I guess I succeeded there. Watch it, you’ll like it. and then comeback and re-read. And recomment. and rejoice. Okay. I should stop. 🙂

  2. This is a review even if you didn’t intend it to be so. But a nicely done one at that – and even if I don’t think I will catch the movie in the theatre, I’ll surely catch it on DVD bcos ur review inspires me to :). I’m glad vidya balan’s finally got her act together. I was beginning to think she’d just fade off as a what-could-have-been amongst all the upcoming glamour queens who can’t act for nuts. Although then again, how many more of the ishqiya kind is she going to get? *sigh*

    • I actually had @allvishal’s review open in another tab for inspiration, so mine sounds the same due to inductive effect. If you catch this on a DVD and like it, please watch it in a theatre if the movie is still there. #humblerequest
      I think I was too quick in comparing her with the greats, she needs more creative challenges like these to elevate herself and she must do this quick. I hope Vishal and Anuraag and the like keep her busy with such projects..
      Thanks for the comment Shikha.

  3. Lol surrender
    id not for naseer vidya and arshad
    just saw the movie,agree with most of ur paragraphs..
    Ishqiya for me, was an unfinished poem. It is lyrical, it entices and then, when you are gripped, it lets you go. Which hurts. At the end of it, you even feel cheated. But when you look back at it and remember the time when it had your attention, you forgive it and marvel at its beauty….(lovely)
    yes a sense of incompleteness ..YEt.

    • A sense of incompleteness. Yes, rightly observed. I hope Abhishek Chaubey makes it up to it in his next venture. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Very nice review, Shantanu. Now that I look back, Salman Shahid indeed looks like Tinny Anand from certain angles. I wouldn’t say that Vidya Balan is of the same calibre as Deepti Naval or Smita Patil, but there’s no denying that she looked really alluring here

    • Ooops!!! Typo. Tinnu Anand

      • Actually a lot of people in the audience noticed it. And I do take back my words on Deepti Naval and Smita Patil, Vidya isn’t even close as of now. But alluring she is.. 🙂

  5. I wish I could talk about movies with such a pleasure…even when you are serious and potentially the post is not so alluring, sigh, you are damn good with words. Now I wont have sleep until I find the movie here.

    • This is the kind of movie which evokes that sentiment in me. I setout to be funny but lost myself by the time I reached the fourth paragraph. Watch this movie and prepare yourself for a semi-gulaal type backlash. You bin warned. 😀

  6. Firstly let me say that you do know how to review movies, at least in the way I would like to see movies reviewed! For at the end of the day you are supposed to relate the experience of watching a movie, the things you noticed, the ideas it spurred in your mind, and in this you have succeeded. This is a very good review!

    Some scattered thoughts:

    – As a rule I never see trailers. I was in India for Kaminey so saw the first Ishqiya promo. Glad that’s all I saw, as VB films really seem to throw everything into the trailer. Same with Kaminey — saw it third day of release and by then everything including the climax was being shown in unavoidable 15 second bursts on TV. WTF? Trust your damn movie.

    – I thought CuSO4 was overused too. Could they have gotten away with a simple ‘chutiya’? It’s usually bleeped out, but I think it’s about time that changed.

    – That 3 Idiots kiss is truly, truly hideous. And I have seen Dhoom 2.

    Keep giving us ‘I don’t know how to review’ reviews — the world needs more of them!


    PS. Thanks so much for the kind words and the link!

    • I totally blame this review on you. I wish I could talk more about the experience, I got lost somewhere. I’ll write about Vivah someday.. that would be fun! 😀

      – I think trailers are important. A lot of people would have missed this movie had it not been for the trailer. And I also feel the best dialogues were concealed. When compared to the rest, ‘Tumhara pyar pyar’ pales in comparison. I think the same goes for a trailer of Iron Man 2 or something like it. And then there are good movies with useless trailers, say Rocket Singh. So I think this is more of a necessary evil

      – High five on that. It wasn’t beeped here, but he should have used it sparingly. Might have been more beautiful that way.

      – Three Idiots kiss. Yuck.

      And give me a movie like Ishqiya and I’ll sing more such reviews! Promise! 😀

      Thanks for the comment V! Someday, I hope I will see as many movies as you or @theevilp have experienced. Till then your blogs will serve as food for thought!



  7. I tweeted the ChuSo4 explanation with slight modification. Nice post. However, I was disappointed by the movie. May be the great expectations were the reason. “Dil To Bachcha” – I will give 5/5. Heard some music from bollywood after a long gap.

    • Your expectations aren’t solely responsible for the disappointment. The movie does let you down. But it can’t be written off for just that. As for the music, need we say anything… 🙂

  8. Khubh bhalo lekechhis… Kya Baat…Kya Baat…Kya Baat 😛

    Coming to the movie..I didn’t find the climax to be disappointing in any way. For me, it did get a bit messy near the end [slightly reminded me of a Priyadarshan climax :P] but how the story wraps up everything , all the questions is quite remarkable..

    Nandu as a character will be the heart of a lot of future tweets, and this movie has got some immortal lines man…

    Mujhe iss Haram zadee se Ishq ho gaya hai…

    And Mushtaq bhai ke to kya kehne..

    • Hail Mithun! 😀

      I found the climax pale. But the ending shot was absolute mindfuck. Nandu and Mushtaq bhai = awesome. Aur yar we need to make a wiki or something of the best dialogues. Sacchi.

  9. Berry Berry Interesting!! Come to think of it, this is one movie which has tantanoo written all over it 🙂

    The boner and the Bhindi Bharta is ROFL stuff man 🙂 On a serious note as mentioned earlier, liked that there were no spoiler alerts, which i think is kinda difficult while doing a movie review.
    I am gonna try booking it for this Friday, and i hope i get it.In my village, getting a ticket for Hindi movie is a herculean task:-)

  10. OOps!! I meant a movie review* instead of *movie* in the first line …

    • Haha.. Yes. And I really mean the boner thing. Watch this one. I’ll consider it my revenge for Sherlock Holmes. 😀

  11. awesome !

  12. I have yet to see the film. But after reading this post, i most definitely will. Also, I downloaded ‘Ab Mujhe Koi’ only on ur recommendation and now am in love with the track. 🙂

    Tantanoo, u have a huge fan here.

    • If this post made you go for the movie, I’ll be really happy. Fulfillment this. And Ab Mujhe Koi deserves all the love in the world. What. a. Song.
      And Priya, you have a *tiny* friend here. 🙂

  13. Nice, decent peice. I too have missed all the mentioned movies(watched 3 idiots yesterday) and I’m inclined to watch this one now.


    • Hey Mahak, I also caught the Idiots yesterday. Do watch this one. Worth a dekko.

  14. You’ve written about the film beautifully and poetically. Naseer’s description is WOW

    “Naseeruddin Shah gives an impeccable performance as Khalujaan. When he’s drunk, you notice the slur. When he speaks Urdu, you notice the nuances. When he is rabid, you notice the sinews.”

    And closed it just sigh, beautifully 😀

    Something I can never do. Write more, boy! The clamours for Encore are boiling over from your comments section!

    “Ishqiya’s world is as real as yours or mine. The art director(or whoever is responsible) builds a montage of North India, joining the village to the glamorous city. He takes you to temples, to shady beauty parlours, to red light areas, to steel factories – and none of them appears unreal.”

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. None of those IS unreal. I say so especially coz KK Steel so freaked me out! I meet people like those everyday!

    • Poetic. Haha. I think its the movie that makes me so. I used a lot of thesaurus-fu to sound convincing.
      I’ll write more, I promise, I realized that such posts are a fitting tribute to a movie.

      As for your writing, your attention span, which makes you jump from one point to another, makes your blog posts very interesting, exciting even. So please don’t change that. 🙂

      And ditto on the KK Steel thing. This and the factory shown in Yuva are very very realistic, believable. I’ve been to them too. Met people like that. That is the beauty of this movie.


  15. Superb review! I HAVE to watch this movie now

    • Oh you must! I’d love to know your opinion. 🙂

  16. A gud review, nicely written…really This pulp fiction is a real stuff. Chhoti Dukan uchi pakwan…hats off to Vishal for setting up the trend from Maqbul. Abhishek deserves the credit here with the assistance of Vishal.
    Nasruddin shah is as asual brilliant and Arshad has proved that he exists not only for Priyadarshan’s kind of Comedy …his Bhopali accent was awesome..heared ‘Makade’ but missed ‘Bhaikade’.Vidya has proved once again…the fourth character Nandu would be remembered for his performance ( is he the same laundary boy from 3 idiots ? ).
    was quite jovial coming out from the hall…suddenly my friend sported an angled cap on his head and asked How was he looking ? we replied Chutiam Sulphate. 🙂

    • Chhoti Dukaan Uncha Pakwan – well put! I have always had respect for Arshad. His comic timing is brilliant. And his intensity in Seher was praiseworthy too. His conscious decision to consistently play second fiddle has paid off I guess.
      And Nandu isn’t the same guy. I don’t think so. and Chutiam sulphate will soon be a trendy cuss word.. 😀

      Thanks for the comment!

  17. Shantanu,
    Really well put. My experiences were almost the same.
    After a lot of begging my Tamil speakin wife finally agreed to come to movie with me (for all reasons mentioned above, I have never ever gone to a movie theatre alone).
    I really enjoyed the movie except for the ending. In short, the mvie was throughly enjoyable, except something seemed to be lacking. I guess you put my thoughts into words.
    Yes, after getting back home, I didn’t stop thinking of the movie or stop laughing until I fell asleep. My wife on the other hand was disappointed that there were no subtitles, which made it all the more difficult for her.
    Anyway, I really wish you blogged on PFC.
    Good job.

  18. Saw d movie on d 2nd day n i completely agree with ur views on d actors “When he’s drunk, you notice the slur. When he speaks Urdu, you notice the nuances. When he is rabid, you notice the sinews. And what comes as a bigger surprise, is Arshad Warsi, who tries to steal the show from Naseeruddin, portraying the nervous Babban, who has an eye for mischief and an innate lust in his kohl-lined eyes. And he almost succeeds.
    Almost, because the movie belongs to Vidya Balan.”

    Balan actually won a place in my heart aftr her performance, warsi rose to higher position n naseerundin maintains his rank of being the finest actors of indian cinema.

    Dude Ur review only made me enjoy d movie once again!!!

    • Thanks Augustine! The last line sums it all, I went through the same while writing this not-review. 🙂

  19. Great post Tantanu …
    I have been addict to this blog after I got its link from one of batchmate’s status msg and have forwarded it to dozen’s of my friend (mainly software engineers)till now. Since everyone reads your blog at office time, you can count yourself as one of the reasons of decreasing productivity of software indusrty :p…
    a lot have already been said about your so not called review so nothing left to be said except your explanation of origin of chutium sulphate. I reckon it has come from Sodium sulphate due to its similar pronunciation rather than copper sulphate. This term was fab when I was in my high school(1999).
    Keep it up Buddy…

    • Hey Ashish,

      I’ll be adding to the decreasing productivity of software industry soon enough, by my direct actions. 🙂

      This was actually meant to be a not-review but soon lost its way. I am not complaining though.

      Chutiyam sulphate’s origins are as shady as Pied Piper’s. So your guess is as good as mine. 😀

      Thanks for the comment! Keep reading and adding to the woes of the country!

  20. Hi,
    Nicely written. You can also rate the movie which will enhance your opinion. Although I feet that the movie was too good. And I did not lose any attention till it ended. The second half was even better.

    • Hi Pankaj,

      I don’t rate a movie, because of the useless discussions and comparisons that follow. Giving a movie points, or a status compares it to other movies which may or may not belong to the same genre. Which is unfair in my opinion. Also this is the first time I’m writing about a movie.

      I thought the second half could have been much better, tighter even. There should have been a song or two too.

      Thanks for the comment!

  21. i actually stumbled upon your piece searching for the kiss.. pretty good stuff u got going on here..

    • I hope you weren’t disappointed. 😉
      Thanks for the comment.

  22. Got here while googling for CuSo4 🙂 really nice post…will be back for seconds after watching the movie..

    • Thanks! Do watch the movie and stay away from the reviews! 😀

  23. Amazingly written bro!!

  24. Equally queer indie film for a indiefag like yourself.

    Naxalite cunt.

  25. Hi TanTanu. Several months late, Ishqiya had its UK premiere two days ago, closing the London Riverside Studios Indian International Film Festival. I’m a long time fan of Shah (isn’t everyone?), have seen Warsi in too many duff roles to be sure about him, and really did not know who Balan was. What a revelation! A very fine film indeed, which presumably did not make the trip to the UK before because it did not carry the imprimatur of Eros or UTV or whoever.

    A young British-Pakistani friend will now be seeking it out online now. To encourage him, I checked the reviews at the usual suspects: Apunka, Times of India, etc, but count myself (and my friend) lucky to have found your percipient comments, which are now posted off to Oxford. Such a pity that he’ll have to watch online, as the Bollywood screens in England, while increasing in number through their adoption by the Cineworld and more recently Vue chains, show only those marketed by the major Indian distributors.

    That said (and I know I’m off on a tangent here), both the Hindi and Tamil versions of Raavan opened simultaneously at various locations. I was glad to see the excellent Abishek version first, since it had English subtitles, but it would be unfair not to acknowledge that Vikram’s performance in Raavanan was a tour-de-force (despite lack of translation for a monolingual Scotsman).

    As for the Festival, it was poorly publicised, what a pity. (Like a previous event 2 years ago at the Rich Mix Cinema where a glorious retro programme was ruined and ill-attended because no-one knew. If only I had heard about it before the next-to-last evening!) This year, despite sponsorship by such as HSBC, India Today, and the Aicon Gallery, and an eclectic mix of retro and previews (Peepli, Dunno Y…) many seats were empty.

    Anyway, thanks again for your great “review”, I shall check your blog regularly from now on.


  26. look any hindi dictionary guruji, “CHUTIA means FOOL” not at all whatever u interpret it just by lookin at resemblence with word ch##t 😡

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