Ishqiya.

February 1, 2010 at 12:18 am | Posted in Movies Shoovies | 49 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Finally.

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.

ishqiya-ender

(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.

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(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 – http://vlovemovies.com/reviews/ishqiya.html

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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