Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Producer: Vishal Bhardwaj,Raman Maroo
The first question- why is Ishqiya mainly shot in the rustic, very unglamorous rural locales of Uttar Pradesh? Answer- Because India is a country of villages, fall in love with them for the way they are. Question two – why did the female lead Kisna (Vidya Balan) have to be wife of a caste based gang leader? Answer- another attempt to get the government take this terrible trouble of caste based local wars seriously. Question- why does Kisna come up with kidnapping as a solution for clearing off Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah)and Babban's (Arshad Warsi) debt? Answer- kidnapping is rampant in UP, another cause for concern. Why is Kisna's husband Vidyavardhan Varma, also the thug behind importing guns from Nepal to India? Yupp, you got it- another major cause for concern to the passive government. Why is there a point where the lives of Khalujaan and Babban are at the mercy of 15 year old Nandu- because there are scores of settlements spread in India where 'before the kids learn to wash their bottoms, they are taught how to use a gun' and it's a terrifying cause for concern. Why is everyone in Ishqiya using expletives? We Indians can be coolly uncouth. Okay, sorry, now that was bad joke.
So you see, Ishqiya, with its tagline- Ishq mein sab bewaja hai (Everything in love is unreasonable), maybe touted as this story of raw crazy love. However, the subliminal message is, our country is beautiful and plagued by a lot of problems but common, let's not be impassive and do something in our own little way about it.
Ishqiya is a rickety but fun rickshaw ride. It takes you through the lives of the lawless in UP. Nothing has been glossed over. Just plain crude. Its feral. It contemporizes what we read in old Birbal tales, that wit can get you to cheat death. Its painfully hilarious at moments. It gives you lot of the unexpected to keep up the thrill. The answer to the puzzle is unobtrusively given to you in the beginning of the movie. If you are wise enough you'll catch it or you'll just end up feeling silly when its revealed (like me).
Cinematography is simply superb. Right from the first frame to the last. Editing is apt.
Music, what can I say is sort of like Multani Mitti (Fuller's earth). We girls are quiet acquainted with it. It's nothing but mud. But it's soft and cool and great for your skin. The music seems to have sprouted straight out of the soil… so rooted, so humble, but yet strongly effective! Dil to baccha hai ji is already a hit. But do watch out for Vidya's solo singing sequences where just a female voice with the accompaniment of sitar is featured. It's fantastic!
The color scheme is basic. Right from the natural browns and greens of the village to the bright yellows, reds and magentas of Vidya's attires (and in one shot Arshad's undies too).
The action in the film is shocking at times revolting too.
Then there are other puke-inducing stuff shown like - A woman may act pricey. But corner her in an empty house, forcibly give her a taste of yourself and eventually she'll sleep with you. Maybe, it's there to feed the male ego?
Also, I couldn't help feeling a sense of deja-vu. The movie continued to make my mind go back to a Mani Ratnam film in Tamil titled Thiruda Thiruda, the story of which is apparently written by Ram Gopal Varma. (Two local thieves plus lots of cash, add to it a hot-chick with whom they both seem to have a love-hate relationship). A bit of a disappointment there because with a name like Vishal's you expect nothing but that which is out of the world.
Naseeruddin Shah, is a brilliant actor and it's so good to see him back in a commercial Bollywood film. As Khalujaan he is cute. Besotted eyes surrounded by crinkled skin have never been so adorable!
Vidya Balan with her smooth creamy skin against the bright typical UP costumes is a classic beauty…with brains. Her acting is like always flawless. And it's hard to believe she was apprehensive about the abusive language because the way she mouths them in the film you'd think she's been talking that way ever since she was born.
Arshad Warsi as Babban seems naughty but leery. He also looks like an absolute pervert in scenes where he gets horny. Atta boy!
Surprise package is the actor who plays Vidyavardhan Verma. He is tall, dark and handsome in a twisted way.
Ishqiya just like the vibrancy of the story offers a lot of varied interpretations. It's gripping, gritty and gory. It shows the height to which any human being can be pushed when it comes to love. If you think there's a part of your life that's so crazy that it leaves you flummoxed, you will identify with Ishqiya.
Forget the cozy gloss of popcorn movies, let go the uptight attitude and take a wild ride with Ishqiya this weekend.
Reporter and Author: Susan Jose