Its not often that I watch two new releases back-to-back. I usually pick one, and ignore the other till it either receives an obscene amount of recommendations or it comes on cable. But with Rann yesterday and Ishqiya today, I had to break that habit…coz both looked extremely promising and paisa-vasool. And let me say it: Ishqiya more so.
A shishya’s work may not better the guru’s but this effort from debutante director Abhishek Chaubey can be a potent example that it can come pretty close. Vishal Bharadwaj being the guru here and his Omkara, the comparative benchmark. But in all fairness, whilst Omkara was a re-telling of a Shakespearean saga, Ishqiya is penned by Vishal Bharadwaj, Sabrina Dhawan and Abhishek Chaubey and the latter in the role of the director, brings it on-screen in a delectable manner.
Set in the bhayya belt of Uttar Pradesh, Ishqiya is the tale of two petty thieves – Khaalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) who’re on the run from a goon who’ve they robbed and end up in sleepy Gorakhpur, taking refuge in the house of their old friend. The friend is dead now but his widow Krishna (Vidya Balan) gives them shelter nevertheless and decides to help them out when the goons threaten them with a pay-up-or-perish deadline. The three put their heads together and plan a sinister coup & as the plot unfolds layer-by-layer, several hidden truths and stealth motives come to light.
The seemingly odd love triangle between Khalujaan – Krishna – Babban is the highpoint of the movie and is quite well handled. Khalujaan’s romance is old-school, clean, pure, delicately developed around tender talks, mundane kitchen-tasks and nuanced by some old hindi film music from S D Burman and Hemant Kumar. Babban’s is raw, bashful, physical and lustful in nature. And fitted to the latest & raunchiest filmy tunes – something that highlights the generational gap between the protagonists. Krishna plays up to both advances with aplomb and suavely manages to manipulate both to her advantage.