What I liked about Ishqiya: Not as much a movie review

I watched Ishqiya last night, comfortable sprawled in the king sofa sets of Maxus, Sakinaka. I loved the movie immensely.
We (most movie bloggers) often like the movie first, and intellectualize our emotions later. Many a times, in the process of intellectualizing the emotion, we kill the real emotion. Mind over heart, as they say. That being said, there are a lot of things that clicked with me for this movie, and hence I will talk only about the most important things (for me). Acting, Music, and Dialogues are the more obvious positives. Characters and their portrayal is the less obvious one. The fact that I do not credit the story as much is the other less obvious thing.
Characters / Portrayal- The reason I am separating it from acting is because it’s a director/story-teller’s vision, that the actors convincingly or unconvincingly portrays on the screen, and that’s where debutant director Abhishek scores a maiden ton. Extremely human in their thinking and mannerisms, Arshad Warsi (Babban), Vidya Balan (Krishna) and Naseeruddin Shah (Iftikhar/Khalu jaan) are exceptional in the movie. And for once, I think Arshad and Vidya come across a notch better than Naseer, which by itself should be to the director’s credit.
Khalu’s body language when he is trying to steal a car, or during the song “dil to bachcha hai”, or when he is acting coy with Krishna telling her about Jayadev being the music director of the song she is singing, are all of the same man, and the same small time thief who is on his toes that he will get caught any minute. His anger at seeing Babban and Krishna together, completely over-ruling the thought that he himself had the same desires, given a chance, and subsequently hurting his best friend with the most heart wrenching comments in that anger – these are all extremely human scenarios, enacted perfectly by Naseer. But by now, I expect that from Naseer.
Babban, on the other hand, is the standard roadside goon that we all must have seen so many of in real life. Especially those who have spent some time in the central belt of India. The mannerisms, open shirt button, unshaved stubbled look, the walk with a forced air of rudeness, the “rolling over words” language are all so typical. Babban’s language is far more bhopali, and he has pulled it off with consummate ease. “Tumhara pyaar pyaar, aur humara pyaar sex” might be a dialogue that many people will quote in their respective gali mohallas. Almost every scene where Arshad is present, he takes the center stage.
The pick of the lot for me is Krishna’s character. Extremely manipulative, flirtatious with her husband, refined with Khalu, and in your face with Babban, her transition from one league to another is seamless. What is extremely impressive is that in that one intimate moment with Babban, Krishna comes across as someone who wants to keep the “sulphate” at bay, but her carnal desires being unmet for ages, she gives in to the emotion. And in that one moment, her carnal desires take over her plan of keeping both the men at bay. It comes across as a moment that she was not planning for, and my reading is that it was exactly that, more than a mere manipulation. Also, the scene where she realizes that beyond manipulations, the two men actually do love here, there is an expression on her face that should not be missed. It’s a beautiful transition, the way a cloud passes over your expressions every once in a while, when you hear an uncomfortable truth. I have believed Vidya Balan to be a good actress, but never realized she has come so far. Especially after Hey Babyy, my confidence had gone low. After Paa and Ishqiya, however, I think she should groom herself to be the next Smita Patil/Shabana Azmi cadre actress.

The other aspect that really stood out for me was the music, and by that I don’t mean just the 4 key songs from Vishal and Gulzar. Even the occasional picks in the movie like “kuch dil ne kaha… kuch bhi nahi” are amazingly well placed. The music arrangement for Ab mujhe koi intezaar nahi and Badi dheere jali are exquisite. Put them on your iPod and close your eyes, you are sure to transcend to another world of yearning. Even though Dil to bachcha hai and Ibn-e-batuta are the running favorites, my loyalty is shifting to “badi dheere jali raina, dhuan dhuan naina”.

Unlike pure blooded critics, I will not want to quote flaws “as well”, because overall, the movie worked for me. Those 2 hours were a breeze, and I came out satisfied.

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About Amit
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

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