Ishqiya poster


wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)

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.

Read more
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Running time: 120 minutes
Genres: Comedy, Revenge, Romance
More Movie Info

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

38 reviewers(?) - 30 yays 5 so-so 3 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, : ...‘Ishqiya’ is not just a love story, it is a spicy drama-thriller that will keep you hooked from start to end.... full review

Thumbs up, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...These initial frames are about physical love, though Ishqiya is about love in all its shapes and forms, with its power to reduce grown-ups to slobbering infants... full review

Thumbs up, by Katherine Matthews, Bolly Spice : ... What works best in Ishqiya, ultimately, are the spectacular performances of the film's three lead... full review

Thumbs up, by Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama : ...You could call ISHQIYA a distant cousin of OMKARA.... full review

Thumbs up, by Daliya Ghose, Bollywood Mantra : ...In the first half, the story runs smoothly without any tension and intensity but the second half becomes too volatile... full review

Thumbs up, by Jaya Biswas, Buzz18 : ...It won't be fair to unnecessarily compare Ishqiya with Omkara. As a first timer, Abhishek Chaubey's direction is a welcome change. Though we find him losing his grip once in a while, Abhishek's choice of the subject and handling of the same make it a worth watch. The change of events during the kidnap drama and the heated argument that follows thereafter are fascinating. Even the passionate lovemaking sequence between Arshad and Vidya has been dexterously captured. The saucy lingo spit out by Babban and Khalu may make you feel uncomfortable, but it only makes the characters look more real.... full review

Thumbs up, by Martin D'Souza, : ...Vidya Balan has drummed up a delectable performance in ISHQIYA. She's the widow whose life has suddenly exploded from its shell; a lover; a woman who misses those 'tender' moments and one who is out to exact revenge... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, Hindustan Times : ...Chaos is complete. So is the humour. Intellectual deconstruction is immaterial.... full review

Thumbs up, by Kaveree Bamzai, india today : ...The film features many of the elements that can now safely be called Vishal Bharadwaj-esque.... full review

Thumbs up, by Susan Jose, India-Forums : ...Music, what can I say is sort of like Multani Mitti (Fuller's earth). ... full review

Thumbs up, by Mihir Fadnavis, : ...Full marks to writers Bharadwaj, Chaubey and Sabrina Dhawan, for the film is replete with truly delicious sequences, and some biting dialogue worth killing for.... full review

Thumbs up, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ...Regardless of the rugged-and-rustic ‘ City of God ’ kinda setting, the flavour of the film is predominantly light-hearted, as instinctive comedy oozes out from almost every sequence... full review

Thumbs up, Indicine : ...Filled with witty and saucy dialogues, it is a movie that is high on spirit, drama, romance, thrill and is very very foxy (Definitely not for anyone under 18).... full review

Thumbs up, by Kshitij Mehta, J.A.M : ...A mention also for the child actor who interacts with Arshad Warsi. The unmissable boy is fabulous. ... full review

Thumbs up, Movie Talkies : ...But the real revelation is Vidya Balan. One has never seen her like this. Krishna is a bold woman who knows how to flash her eyes, flaunt her hair and get her way. She is just as wily as the two crooks and is more than a match for them... full review

Thumbs up, by Darshit, Movies Music and Me : ...Ishqiya is charming and at the same time a shocking movie.... full review

Thumbs up, by Minty Tejpal, Mumbai Mirror : ... Towards, the end, Ishqiya gets a bit hurried, and loses its keen edge, but the journey has been well worth it... full review

Thumbs up, by Anupama Chopra, NDTV : ... It’s feisty and sly and very, very sexy.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ashok Nayak, Now : ... The movie is a tricky roller coaster ride from the beginning to the end with unpredictability and twits taking the front seat... full review

Thumbs up, by DetatchedVoyeurs, Passion for Cinema : ...Unlike previous portrayals where there’s a distinct, polarizing division of characters in black and white, Krishna doesn’t fall easily into any bracket or category of Madonna or Magdalene... full review

Thumbs up, by Kenny, Passion for Cinema : ... Ishqiya is already a contender for best debut of the year. ... full review

Thumbs up, by MovieMagik, Passion for Cinema : ...Arshad Warsi is on top gear as Babban and makes us wary of how under utilized an actor he truly is, and how much he deserves to thrive beyond the ‘Circuit’-model.... full review

Thumbs up, by Hanumant Bhansali, Radio Sargam : ...But one person who plays the major role as the director and is equally responsible for such a fine film is Vishal Bharadwaj.... full review

Thumbs up, real bollywoood : ...Naseeruddin Shah is just excellent playing Khaalujaan and you can’t think of anyone else in his place for the role.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Each character is complex and their intentions are usually far from honourable... full review

Thumbs up, by K N Gupta, : ...From start to finish, the movie is a true entertainer sans any dirt.... full review

Thumbs up, by Janhvi Patel, StarBoxOffice : ...Not once do you think Ishqiya is directed by a debutante because the direction is deft.... full review

Thumbs up, by K K Rai, STARDUST : ...Naseeruddin Shah...enacts his part with élan. His tough looking physique and soft heartedness towards Vidya Balan presents a contrasting and most humane characteristic realistically... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...The backwater badlands of Eastern UP, with their characteristic gun culture, caste wars and edgy lingo loom large as the fourth character in this crime play.... full review

Thumbs up, by SpiceZee Bureau, Zee News : ...There is nothing make belief in ‘Ishqiya’ for the movie does full justice to its characters and its rustic backdrop... full review

So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks : ...But the main drawback in the movie is that its starts too slow and picks up too late. ... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...Ishqiya is fun while it lasts, with its look-at-me cockiness, but not a film one remembers... full review

So-So, by Deepa Garimella, : ... The story, however, is incomprehensible for a large part of the proceedings.... full review

So-So, by Debojit Ghatak, Indian Auteur : ...That Balan kills the scope of the character by playing her in the most self-conscious, self-reflexive manner possible, (so much so that even when she abuses, you can almost sense the surprise in her voice at her own temerity) is a matter of a bad acting performance.... full review

Thumbs down, by IANS, : ...How the film finds a central core of gentleness in this milieu of murky machinations is another story. Or maybe it isn’t. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Padmaja Thakore, Passion for Cinema : ...The two thieves are more or less flat characters and you never get to know why they do what they do or how their mind works... full review

Thumbs down, by filmbear, Upper Stall : ...Production design and costumes do wonderfully and are well in consonance with the story and setting. ... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

2 readers - 1 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by TimELiebe : Again, wish there was a rating between "Yay" and "So-So"

So-So, by kay

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

Khalu-jaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) are small-time thugs who find themselves in a not-so small soup. They go to Varma's house for help and meet Mrs. Krishna Varma (Vidya Balan). Will she come to their aide?

What Worked

  • The opening sequence. Sizzling and earthy. Vidya Balan is going to set lots of hearts beating and more.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • What was the point of the old lady? Reminded me of the old woman from Rann
  • Khalu-jaan fantasizing about Krishna, didn't work at all because it was very generic. Took away from the beautiful song.
  • The entire kidnapped guy's side-plot
  • Why couldn't bright Mr. Varma not smell the leaking gas.

General question:
Isn't the voice on the phone (Mushtaq's wife) Vidya Balan's voice? If yes, why?


This section lists things that I think are not important to the overall impact of the movie. In most cases, it could be explained away by something like, "we noticed the glitch after the scene was shot and there were schedule/budget issues and thus we could not re-shoot it". I like giving the makers the benefit of doubt, but I am amused nevertheless. Hopefully, they will tickle you too.

  • Vidya Balan's bleached facial hair is visible. Not the right color of bleach. It looks very shabby.

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):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Ishqiya - Cast, crew, links

Background Score:
Action Choreography:
Music Director:
Costume Designer:
Running time:
120 minutes

Comments (9)

Click here for new comment

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

@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

@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/

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

@Bollyfan Please elaborate...

@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. :)

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? :-)

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

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.

Leave a Comment