Dedh Ishqiya (2014) – Hilarious, sexy and tastefully queer!
Abhishek Chaubey seems to have had a bitter love life as both his directorial ventures had women, love and deceit, all in equal measures. Jokes apart, “Dedh Ishqiya” has much more in store. It has men (dangerous ones, at that), guns, thrills and rib-tickling comedy. Heralded as a sequel to 2010 flick “Ishqiya”, the film is more or less ‘Misadventures of Khalu and Babban – Part 2’. To give due credit to the director, the sequel has a streamlined story, more interesting characters and cheekier dialogues than the prequel.
The new edition of ‘Ishqiya’ is all about a unique “swayamvar” conducted by Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit – Nene), the lady of Mahmudabad, a fictitious town in the heartlands of Uttar Pradesh, India. The event adjudged by Begum, with support of her aide Muniya (Huma Qureshi), is all about excellence in Urdu poetry. Circumstances bring Khalu (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) to Begum’s palace and sparks fly… of love, power, treachery, greed and of course gunfire!
The most noticeable element here is its dark humour with the right mix of quirky dialogues and hilarious moments. As in case of most Vishal Bhardwaj productions, the dialect used here is a character in itself. So smartly are several of the sequences penned that we feel as if the show should never end. The introduction of Begum Para with the original ‘Hamari Atariya Pe‘ in the background, and the Mehfil-e-Shayari that follows are addictive, to say the least. Time comes to an exotic standstill when Khalu confronts Begum for their connection from the past and the thumri “Jagave Saari Raina”, which is easily the best song of the enterprise. Come to think of it, the emotions that the duo feel for each other are very well-defined as opposed to the half-baked moments of lust between Muniya and Babban. Nevertheless, one should not bother complaining as the witty tête-à-tête between them keep us in splits. Also, the mysterious shades given to Begum and Muniya’s relationship is stunning and beyond any form of praise. The very fact remains an ingredient of intrigue even after the show concludes. I’m sure Ismat Chughtai is smiling from somewhere. For this glowing tribute to ‘Lihaaf‘.
The soundtrack is, perhaps, the only department which is one notch lower than Ishqiya but that doesn’t mean Vishal’s score is anywhere mediocre. Poetry by Dr. Bashir Badr deserves a special mention for the fact that his words successfully supersede even Madhuri Dixit when it comes to being avant-garde. Editing (A. Sreekar Prasad) is flawless while cinematography (Setu) does ample justice to the milieu.
Performances are first-rate with Vijay Raaz stealing the show with a stupendous performance. Not that we haven’t seen the actor in similar roles before but his screen presence and the personality he lends to Jaan Mohammed is remarkable. Naseeruddin Shah brims with unbridled energy. Somehow his performance reminds us of the comical ‘talking-from-the-portrait-daddy’ avatar from ‘Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na’. Maybe we should hand it over to the unabashed verve of both the tales. Arshad Warsi is in his elements with not a single note out of pitch. Manoj Pahwa does well in a neat cameo. Huma Qureshi rises above her sort-of amateurishly written part and delivers a bravura performance. Now coming to the diva on the dais, Madhuri Dixit – Nene illuminates every frame she is in. Let’s not deny that a significant part of the run-time is spent sighing at her alluring beauty and unmatched grace. Cast in a part that is tailor-made for her, the part doesn’t require heavy-duty histrionics but certain poise and a magnetic presence. And is there anyone better than Mrs. Nene to pull it off? Not yet in Hindi cinema!
Visually and verbally ‘colourful’, “Dedh Ishqiya” proves that Naseeruddin Shah could look sexier riding a bike than Aamir Khan in “Dhoom:3“. Touted as Madhuri Dixit’s comeback vehicle, the film (fortunately) doesn’t place her (or anyone) on the driver’s seat. And not for many movies do the audience unanimously stay back for the song in end credits, unless it has Madhuri Dixit sprinkling elegance in form of a stylishly remixed ‘Hamari Atariya Pe’. Hilarious, arresting and tantalizing are the words for Abhishek Chaubey’s audacious second feature “Dedh Ishqiya”.