Film Review: 'Dedh Ishqiya'
Opened: 10 January 2014
Cast: Naseerudin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Madhuri Dixit - Nene, Huma Qureshi, Vijay Raaz
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Producer: Vishal Bhardwaj
First thing's first. Abhishek Chaubey's Dedh Ishqiya won't be your cup of tea if it's a hardcore masala film you're after. There are two schools of filmmakers – art house and commercial, and Dedh Ishqiya falls somewhere in between. It has an unmistakable old world charm and grace about it, coupled with lilting performances and dark humour, and refreshingly, it hasn't been made to bucket oodles of cash at the box office.
Khalu (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) are back after the first film Ishqiya (which saw them opposite Vidya Balan), only this time to be pitted against a deceitful widow, the beautiful Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit), the Begum of Mahmudabad and Muniya (Huma Qureshi) her confidant. The two go to great lengths to woo the seemingly innocent damsels in distress, but all is not what it seems, and inevitably after a series of unpredictable twists and turns, the two ruffians end up in tangled web of deceit, which was more than they'd bargained for.
Vishal Bhardwaj's characters always have that unique trait of never being larger than life. They're always grey, more human and relatable, and to an extent, that turns out to be this film's major trump card too. Everyone has a selfish agenda – whether its Khalu forgoing his friendship with Babban for Begum Para's affections, Babban lusting after Muniya, or as we find out much later on in the film, Begum and Muniya manipulating the two rogues for their own selfish gains and redemption.
It's not just with the characterisations that the Dedh Ishqiya scores though. The film's dialogue is crisp, sharp and effortlessly witty with several laugh-out-loud moments, and the camerawork and screenplay are of a high standard matching the mood of the film.
Of course, none of that would matter had it not been for the film's stellar cast who unanimously deliver performances of the highest calibre. Naseerudin Shah, as always, rises way above the film's script and whether he's cracking double entendres or yearning for a love that may never be his, the actor is on top form. Arshad Warsi as Babban is on par with the veteran matching him every step of the way, and their bromance, though a little unusual, comes across well. The actresses of course aren't far behind. As the wounded widow carrying the scars of a jilted marriage, Madhuri Dixit-Nene is simply unmatchable, scoring top marks in the dramatics department, and delivering her lines with the required restraint never once going overboard. Her dances too, have an eternal grace about them, and although not as fluid as her heyday, her 'thumri' in the film is to die for. Huma Qureshi delivers too and never once gives off the impression that she's in awe of the veterans around her. She looks smashing besides, and we'd definitely like to see more of her in the future. Special mention has to be made of Vijay Raaz too. In a cluttered cast, he stands out as the principal antagonist delivering a deadpan performance that is bang on.
I'm going with three and a half stars for Dedh Ishqiya. It may not be the film that sets the box office ablaze, and perhaps would have scored higher had it not be for its pace which, initially at least, is extremely sluggish and perhaps a little over indulgent, but that said, it's ultimately a beautiful film in its own right that deserves to be seen for the trendsetter it is.