Feel like having Biryani? Watch Dedh Ishqiya

Agar batman mar gaya to joker kya karega. Aata goondega?

Agar batman mar gaya to joker kya karega. Aata goondega?

Dedh Ishqiya is a delightful movie. Flows like water, grows like wine.

If you had a doubt that Babban and Khalu’s chemistry won’t be the same the second time over, worry not. The sparks still fly as you continue to marvel at the real undercurrents of their relationship. Naseer and Arshad continue to razzle dazzle you with the best bro-act. You don’t get to say this often- Ghaaghre Ka Pissu Babban stands taller this time, even though the movie belongs to the Nawab of Chandpur Khalujaan.

If you thought Mushtaq Bhai was funny only the first time, think again. He delivers one of the finer Batman moments of the movie right at the beginning

Instead of one, there are two ladies – but it’d be unfair to Vidya Balan to say that they score over her. I am an ardent Madhuri admirer, but Begum Para is only a shadow of the Madhuri of Mrityudand, Beta, and many more. Huma Qureshi almost sleepwalks through her role which doesn’t make her do anything beyond her Wasseypur shades. In her dancing moments, Madhuri continues to be the gold standard. In the Humri Atariya sequence, one cannot but notice the remarkable difference in the grace, style and expressions with which she dances, and Huma is almost an eyesore in that song. However, Vidya Balan, in the previous edition, had a level of evil and vixen-ness that is clearly missing from the leading ladies this time. That said, if the trailer of Gulaab Gang is anything to go by, I have a feeling we are getting closer to the Madhuri Dixit of yore.

The surprise package of the movie (not so much, really!) is Vijay Raj in the role of Jaan Bhai. I have never really written on how brilliant his comic timing can be. Remember Raghu Romeo. Better still, remember the only watchable parts of that horrible movie “Run” ? Vijay Raj is amazingly awesome as the local MLA/ suitor of Begum Para.

Moving on to the non-people parts of the movie – the star of the movie, like the last time, is the quality of screenplay and dialogues. The chemistry of Khalu and Babban would be only half as explosive if not for the dialogues. However, one most not forget the beautiful use of Urdu – the language of the nawabs. The ingredients – nafaasat, adab, tehzeeb aur salika – are all present in their glory, only to be immediately replaced by Khalu and Babban’s Bhopali Hindi with consummate ease. The English subtitles (forced upon me in Dhanbad, of all the places!) destroy the beauty of those dialogues. But if you can avoid getting burnt by the subtitles, Dedh Ishqiya has one of the best written dialogues in the recent times. . I am glad that they enlisted Bashir Badr as the writer for the Urdu ghazals/ nazms. Bulk of the poetry/ selection is exquisite.

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Khalu to Babban: Zara lihaaf hi maang lo

One cannot but marvel at the mini salute to Ismat Chugtai’s Lihaaf towards the end, and the various mini allegories thrown every now and then. Noor Mohammad Italvi (Manoj Pahwa of Bhatia Saab fame) being one of them – kyonki humari ammi Sonia ji ki badi achi dost hain. Munira’s Kaagzi Begum reference, and Jaan Bhai’s quest to be a true nawab.

Dedh Ishqiya’s music isn’t as big a chartbuster as Ishqiya’s music was. That does not mean it is not as soulful. Dil ka mizaaj ishqiya may not be an equal of dil to bacha hai ji, but stands tall as a beautiful ballad. The problem with it is that it’s too similar to the earlier one. What one misses is Mika’s ibn-e-batuta anchor, which Honey Singh fails to provide. Humri Atariya, Zabaan Jale Hai, and Jagaave Saari Raina are good parallels to the music of Ishqiya. Unfortunately Begum Akhtar’s Atariya is probably more touching than Rekha Bhardwaj’s. The music blends as effortlessly as any other good soundtrack you’d remember. The qawwali, which does seem out of place when you hear the audio compilation, also merges well with the movie.

The movie runs at a very even pace, and does not slow down anywhere. A copycat moment of sorts is towards the end, where an action sequence has a traditional “Wo Jo Hum Mein Tum Mein Qaraar Tha” by Begum Akhtar (written by Momin) playing in the background.

To sum it up, Dedh Ishqiya, is like Awadhi biryani. Cooked to perfection, each morsel exploding like a million flavors in your mouth.

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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.

Movie Review: A Wednesday

I saw “A Wednesday” yesterday. And here is what I think – its a superb muvee. And if better not wait till a wednesday to watch this movie. Watch it TODAY!

Its a movie driven by 2 big factors-  and I am counting some great acting by Naseer, Kher, Shergill and Bashir as just one of them. The other is some very tight editing. All of about 100 minutes, the movie keeps you with the motions all through. And there are these minor subtleties, attention to detail that you should/can not miss.

Coming to a detailed download of what I really liked –

Lead actors-  Nobody doubts their skills anyway. But Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher are talents that have been wasted more often than they have been utilized by mainstream bollywood. Some of their finest performances are relegated to the perjoratively called parallel cinema. But here comes a movie, where Naseer crafts yet another mindblowing performance. And needless to say, he does not need to Ham, speak too many dialogues, get into mindless histrionics, and break into a song and dance routine to do this. From the first shot, his body language is that of a frustrated common man trying to game the system. There is nothing about him that makes him stand out from the crowd. Anupam Kher, on the other hand, is the second in command here. A more routine role of a Police Commissioner does not stop him from acting his heart out though. You can see an officer worn with age and different frustrations, and who has started getting amused by the trivialities of a police job (such as an actor running for security at the first possible threat, or using the minority card for no reason or the innumerable times he might have been forced to submit under political pressure). I read somewhere that the only scene where these actors come together, Anupam wanted it re-shot simply because he felt that he did not play his part as well as Naseer played his. When you see the scene, you realize that there is nothing that either of the two could have done better in that shot.

Lest I forget mentioning Jimmy Shergill and Amir Bashir – these two have done a great job. Its good to see Jimmy Shergill stick to what he is good at. A restrained and angry role. With a bare minimum set of dialogues, you still see his screen presence. Amir Bashir is equally good as the dependable cop. The bus scene where the extremists are trying to instigate the two and bothe Jimmy and Amir are not speaking, their face expressions are wonderful.

Others are ok, and have carried the movie through. Because of these four, they largely becamme unnoticeable. Especially, Deepal Shaw.

Story – Refreshing, to say the least. The best thing – they never reveal the name of the commoner out to game the system lest it be construed as a religion sentiment. Because the movie, in my head, belongs to the genre of thrillers, and not as much to the genre of “serious cinema”. There are a lot of implicitly answered questions which a lot of movies spend too much time answering. Commissioner having clear ideas about an encounter, or him realizing that there are no bombs and yet ordering the final acquiescence. The entire room changing their personal stand on the situation without altering their professional stand.

Simplicity – the story is not about using too many gizmos and gadgets to befuddle the system. It uses basic information that probably is available on the internet to blow the daylights out of an outdated system. At some point, a young college dropout says as much to the commissioner of police. It treats the story like a common man’s set of questions – whats stopping the terrorists to bomb this particular local railway station? Where is the security? These fat hawaldars? What if I just leave a bag somewhere here? Can I hack someone’s cell? etc.

Editing/Direction – its all of 100 minutes long. And does not lose you at any point in the movie. Keeps moving. At quick pace. Its moving at such a pace that even Naseer looking at his watch looks like an aberration! 🙂 Neeraj Pandey – You rock!  Sorry – Pandey ji!! You rock!

Overall – please please watch it. It is shameful that we keep saying that bolllywood does not come up with good cinema, and let these occasional wonderful movies not become the commercial successes that they deserve to be!

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