Directed by debutant Abhishek Chaubey, Ishqiya is a story set in the badlands of eastern Uttar Pradesh (Gorakhpur to be precise). Babban ( Arshad Warsi) and Khalujaan ( Neseeruddin Shah) are two conmen who are running from their boss Mushtaq, after stealing some chunk of money. They decide to find refuge in the house of their old cell-mate, only to discover that he is now dead. His widow, Krishna (Vidya Balan), allows them in nevertheless, and with that the stage is set for a complex love triangle unleashing the various shades of the human psyche. Krishna starts flirting with both the men, as she has a hidden agenda which is revealed after a good one hour into the film. For obvious reasons both of them easily fall for the spunky and vulnerable Krishna.
The lead actors have given some splendid performances. Vidya Balan has once again delivered a winning act after Paa and is looking gorgeous even without any makeup. Naseeruddin Shah is charming as Khaalujan and his old age romance is very beautifully captured in the soulful number Dil to Bachcha Hai. For me the show stealer is Arshad Warsi who is brilliant with his earthy style and a high on testosterone demeanour. A special mention must also go for Alok Kumar, the eye-catching kid who played Nandu. More than the actors much of the film’s delight lies in the invective language and the local lingo which is a treat to watch. The dialogues are bold and witty and stays with you long after you leave the cinema hall. The whole film is an immensely absorbing and delectable journey barring the climax which is a bit confusing and convoluting. The story is left open ended which may find less takers among the viewers. The film’s music is given by Vishal Bharadwaj and the peppy song Ibn-e-Batuta is already a hit with the masses. The background score is also worth appreciating with a number of old classics aptfully laced in different situations ( like Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen ringtone or the song Dhanno Ki Aankhon Main Pyaar Ka Surma playing at a brothel).
Cinematographer Mohana Krishna has done a commendable job and the backdrop of Uttar Pradesh is captured poetically in the film. Besides Abhishek Chaubey, Ishqiya has been co-written by Vishal Bharadwaj and it is heartwarming to see that the movie goers are welcoming a Tarantino style of cinema in India. After Omkara and Kaminey, Ishqiya is another gem from Vishal’s kitty which solidifies a whole new genre of wry and rustic cinema in Bollywood where the characters are grey to the core, but still loved by the audiences in equal proportions.
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