The Dedh Ishqiya Review

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It is rare that critics and viewers can come together to enjoy a film with their heart and soul, cheer, laugh, get heart-broken and attach themselves to the film like politicians attach themselves to certain ministries. In fact, 2013 saw just two films where fit the bill –Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and The Lunchbox. And then 2014 witnesses Abhishek Chaubey arrive with the much-awaited sequel to his 2010 sleeper hit Ishqiya, called Dedh Ishqiya. This time, it is raw, but with a tinge of true romance, less of sex and emotions which needs to be handled with care. This time, it is much more personal.

Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Actors: Nasseruddin Shah, Madhuri Dixit, Arshad Warsi, Huma Qureshi, Vijay Raaz, Salman Shahid and Manoj Pahwa
Music: Vishal Bharadwaj
Lyrics: Gulzar

Khalujaan (Nasseruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) are at the usual game of looting but things go haywire when a necklace robbery is busted by police. Babban finds himself apparently betrayed by Khalujaan who has gone to Mahmunabad disguised as the Nawab of Chandpur to woo Begum Para, the erstwhile begum of the town. She is holding mushairas to choose a husband for herself, as per her dead husband’s wish and is helped by her lady-in-waiting, Munira (Huma Qureshi). Khalu falls for Para, but has to compete with Jaan Mohammed (Vijay Raaz), a local politico. Jaan has kidnapped Nawab Italvi (Manoj Pahwa) to get all the shayaris to impress Begum. Amidst all the romance and wooing, Munira is making plans to kidnap Begum. Who will win over Begum’s heart? What is her connection to Khalujaan? Will Munira succeed in her plan?

It is very interesting to see a film which walks the thin line of masala entertainment and sophisticated mushairas and old-world nawabi life with equal ease. Chaubey, who happens to have co-written the screenplay with Vishal Bharadwaj and Gulzar based on the story by Darab Farooqui, knows how to keep the public’s pulse going. Fabulous punches are ably supported by scenes of romance, one-upmanship, scheming and more. Not even once is the tempo lost. Twist and turns have you going. It is very intriguing to note the use of Begum Akhtar’s ghazals and thumris which are dispersed throughout the film. Characters and interactions like between Khalujaan and Babban or Jaan Mohammed and Italvi create much mirth amongst all. But unlike Ishqiya where Vidya Balan’s Krishna came out as an enigma to be seen with awe, Madhuri’s Para or Huma’s Munira look pale and somehow , given to circumstances more easily. Yet, you love to hate them.

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Nasseruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi as Khalujaan and Babban respectively are the heart and soul of the film, back to their badmaashi. It is safe to say without any gay overtures that they are a fabulous couple to hit silver screen in recent times. Good to see Arshad get his groove. Madhuri Dixit could not have chosen a better film for a comeback on screen (oh, wait! She did make a comeback before with ‘Aaja Nachle’ but we forgot it already!). Here, all we see is a Begum Para who wants her life back and goes for any opportunity to succeed in it. Huma, one feels, does a graceful job of playing Munira, but unfortunately, her character pales in front of others who have a background and a certain character to their personality. We have seen her do better.

Dedh-Ishqiya_MadhuriFor a change, one meets memorable side characters played by terrific actors who have been sidelined. Vijay Raaz’s Jaan Mohammed is an opportunist who wants to be the ruler of Mahmunabad and will go to whatever level to achieve that, even kidnap Nawab Italvi. Raaz adds a menace despite his thin frame. Manoj Pahwa’s Nawab Italvi is the surprise factor– slightly comic Nawab with an Italian mother who apparently studied with Sonia Gandhi, a shayar par excellence and is the element to change things in the film.

Abhishek Chaubey as a director is able to do his entertaining best, by keeping the masala as connecting as possible. It does not come out as crass nor do you feel the nawabi sophistication make the Mickey out of you. He has also kept the small town flavour intact in the film. Best! One of his best decisions is to pick Setu as his cinematography who provides a certain lyricism to the narration where needed. Do note the picturisation of the song Jagave Sari as an example. Vishal Bharadwaj’s music coupled with Gulzar’s sensitive lyrics is the joy of the film.

Dedh Ishqiya is probably just what the doctor ordered. You want fun and it is there. You want romance and voila, it exists. There is also thrill, scheming, shero-shayari and more. The film is a sensitive masala film. What a rarity in Indian films indeed!

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