Review - Ishqiya: Aimless love, sex aur dhokha

wogma rating: Watch when on TV (?)
quick review:

"Something's missing." Yeah, Ishqiya is one of those films that leaves with you that feeling. Once you believe in the story, its well told. But even after the plot has unfolded there's a huge gap in understanding the characters.

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Wogma Review

I feel like this unappeasable audience who demands more and more from her movie-makers. I constantly complain about one-dimensional characters. Ishqiya has three reasonably well-defined characters with very visible shades of gray and yet it doesn't give a "complete" feeling when walking out of the theater. The film is made well technically too. The interaction amongst the characters takes a hit in this one, and it is difficult to understand the motivations of their behavior.

After an intriguing start, mid-way, the film completely changes its tone. This leaves you disconcerted. Sure, a lot about the characters is intentionally mysterious, but as we approach the climax, shouldn't there be at least a vaguely interpretable rationale. It doesn't even have the artsy, take-your-own-guess kind-of an appeal. It looks more like lazy writing.

Khaalu-jaan (Naseeruddin Shah) is a romantic who can kill, if he wants to. Babban (Arshad Warsi) is a thug who falls in love. Both are rugged, men of the soil. Krishna (Vidya Balan) is a romantic who maintains a constant enigma about her. She's absolutely convincing as a seductress who knows what she wants (whether or not we figure it out). Once the chemistry between them is established it is awesome and the actors have done a wonderful job. But, why the chemistry happens in the first place, has no answers.

Also, a lot of this is because you don't have any background about the setting of the film. It is either assumed that you know what happens socially and politically, in and around Gorakhpur or you are given a feeling that it is not supposed to matter. Since I don't know why the Yadavs are fighting the Thakurs, there was a huge gap in the dynamics of the various side characters.

And yet there is a lot going on by means of entertainment and keeping you interested. The spontaneous dialogues delivered with perfect timing. The twisted plot is engaging - so what if it geared towards a lame and dissatisfying end. Also, the propriety and plausibility of Krishna's behavior are a huge question mark.

"Executing a nice story well," is not an easy feat. With a unmissable Vishal Bharadwaj feel to the way the story is told, it is lyrical and earthy. But the story is kind-of warped and leaves a distinct taste of discontent.

p.s. I wish a movie could be given a higher rating for awesome music. All songs, except for 'Ibn-e-batuta' are exceptional - brilliant music and lyrics to top that.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

There is no attempt at all to make this one a movie for all and no reason to be either.

  • Violence: Loads of gunshots
  • Language: Rural. And plentiful use of abusive language
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Begins with an intense intimate scene and has more spread in the film. Throughout, Krishna has a particular sensuality about her.
  • Concept: Betrayal, revenge, love and sex.
  • General Look and Feel: The whole film has a very rugged look about it.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 2.5
  • Lead Actors: 4.5
  • Character Artists: 3
  • Dialogues: 4
  • Screenplay: 3
  • Music Director: 4
  • Lyrics: 5

Ishqiya - Movie Details

Ishqiya - Trailer

Comments (9)

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Gopi:

The Producer really shadows the Director in this one, ey? Can't find him in the Cast and Crew section.

meetu:

@Varun that's an interesting way of looking at it. And i'm happy for parallel cinema, but even that has to connect at some level.

@Gopi he he...oops. Thanks for pointing it out. Will add immediately

meetu:

@Nachiket! Good to see you here!
Naah...I'm just another part of the audience dude. :)

I understand stories leaving things unexplained...but there is usually a clue for people to argue/discuss about. There's nothing of that sort here.

@Sanat, I know exactly what you mean! Songs - I was ok with them not showing up on screen, lest the spoil the "hearing" experience/

Bollyfan:

Each action and motivation is explained subtly as the film progresses. One just needs to be a little intelligent.

meetu:

@Bollyfan Please elaborate...

meetu:

@PD interesting point of view

@amar Damn it! cant remember...

@kuchibs i appreciate your point of view. but had to delete most of your comment because we don't give such details about the story here. :)

IdeaSmith:

LOL! I'm going to see the movie tomorrow so of course, I had to stop and check what WOGMA had to say about it. But the 'NittyGritty' section made me double over in laughter. You really have an excruciating eye for detail, don't you? :-)

meetu:

@ideasmith anything to make you smile, hun. Anything to crack you up.

TimELiebe:

I thought I'd commented on this already - we saw it on Netflix a few weeks back.

It wasn't quite what we expected given the blurb, which made it sound like a Bob Hope & Bing Crosby "Road" movie - it's more serious than that, though there's certainly humor....and some of the Our Lady of Perpetual Coincidence plot twists strain credulity in a(n unintentionally?) comic way.

Looking at the credits, we first saw "Shemaroo Entertainment" and went "What? Don't they re-release classic Bollywood movies like Amar Akbar Anthony, Mughal-E-Azam and the original Don?" Then we saw Vishal Bhardwaj's name as Producer and Co-Writer - which is more to the point, as this film feels like it wants to be a Shakespeare adaptation, except there's no Shakespeare play to base it on. If anything, it feels like a feature-length romantic comedy-drama starring the machinegun-toting gravediggers from Haider in their younger days....

It's - not bad, but it's not as good as it could be. The shifts in tone from romance to comedy to tragedy to romance to melodrama don't feel organic to the story, so you're not sure if you should be laughing, crying or upset. It seems kind of strange for me, an American who's been watching masala for the last three-four years, to complain about the story turning from comedy to tragedy and back again abruptly - but this film feels like it wants to be more than "Just Another Bollywood Movie", and it doesn't quite earn that right, no matter how good Naseeruddin Shah, Vidya Balin and Arshad Warsi are in their roles. (Honestly, it felt a bit like they were talking down to filmi conventions, while using all the ones they could to move the story along.)

I'd say "Watch When on TV" is the right rating here, Meeta - the acting's excellent, but the story strives to be An Instant Classic, and ends up as a modestly enjoyable timepass only.

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