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Movie Review: Dedh Ishqiya


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A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo

To steal jewelry or a woman’s heart – now, that is the question!

"Dedh Ishqiya", one of the most probable, unconventional new-age sequels from Bollywood, is a hard movie to categorize: it is a lumpy, sharp-tasting mix of emotions that’s immaculately written, directed and acted – and yet isn’t remarkable.

The opening, with the black screen voice over story about a female parrot that corrupts a pair of ‘maulvi’ parrots, is the perfect clincher; it seamlessly re-links "Dedh" to "Ishqiya" without missing as much as a beat or the franchise’s intrinsic sensibility about women turning men against each other.

We don’t need the blank screen to cut and reveal where Babban (Arshad Warsi), is – or with whom. Left at the mercy of Mushtaq (Salman Shahid, screen-chewing excellent), a recurring boss, Babban pleads his way out by brokering a deal to find Khalujan aka Iftikhar (Naseeruddin Shah) who scooted when their last heist went bad. (Mushtaq’s reasoning for letting them go time and again is a perfect patch to "Ishqiya’s" last scene).

A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo

A while later, Iftikhar reappears as a Nawab-cum-poet in Mahmudabad. The guise turns him into one of the potential suitors out to win the widowed Nawab’s wife’s hand in a poetry contest. Yes, no need to say it: the set-up is as kooky and incredulous as it sounds.

The India that director/co-writer Abhishek Chaubey fleshes out is something out of an old art-house movie: a place between now and yesterday that’s antiquated and rustic. Despite being set today, this place is a lost haven, where light spills and reflects from windows and doors, illuminating big vacant rooms and full-sized beds that went out of vogue as soon as the "angaraiz" went their way (that is, unless one visits old heritage hotels that function as tourist attractions).

A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo

The Nawab’s widow is Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit-Nene), and is, for a lack of a better word, a stunner. Her aide, Muniya (Huma Quraishi), is zesty and assertive. Babban, traces Iftikhar to Mahmudabad and is immediately fascinated by Muniya, while his “khalujan” is here for love and not money (there’s an open backstory that gives him a flickering of a reason to come here).

Begum Para, meanwhile, has another suitor – not counting the extras, amongst whom one recognizes a few well-known poets. That man is Jaan Mohammad (Vijay Raaz), a local hoodlum with a layered agenda. Notwithstanding his villain-like conduct, Jaan Mohd. pretends to be a faux poet, whose works are impromptu (and badly worded) verses by a kidnapped poet (Manoj Pahwa).

A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo

As the running time expands, interest starts dipping here and there (esp. during the pre-and-post intermission minutes). Logic lapses a few times as well, but without flashing a spotlighting on itself (eg. Jaan Mohd. convincing the visitors that he is suddenly a well-versed poet).

For every dip, there are saves. A rip-roaring climax, and the dastardly, venal disposition of the key players makes "Dedh Ishqiya" a fresh, if not original, movie in a sea of seen-it-all-before capers. The franchise’s kinetic whim, and Iftikhar and Babban grounded nature – even with their small-time crook temperament – still function as the movie’s hook. Despite not rooting or caring for them, its hard wishing something bad happens to these two. (Mr. Shah’s Iftikhar in particular, adds that slight notch that makes him more appealable than Mr. Warsi’s simple-minded ruffian).

A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Dedh Ishqiya". - Courtesy Photo

However their counterparts, Muniya and Begum Para, are a different story. Regardless of casting Ms. Quraishi and Ms. Dixit-Nene as very serious people in a conflicting emotional predicament, the scope of their personalities and sentimentalities is less than that of Vidya Balan’s jilted wife in "Ishqiya".

Co-writer/Producer Vishal Bharadwaj (also the music director), in spite of the shortcomings (which includes a lackluster soundtrack), has a better motion picture in "Dedh Ishqiya". A "Dhai" (two and a half) is more than welcome – and sooner, rather than later.

Distributed by Shemaroo Entertainment, "Dedh Ishqiya" is rate A for scenes of simulated sex, crude language, profanity, itchy trigger fingers, and – inexplicably – no deaths. The movie would function just as well without the ‘A’ rating.

Directed by Abhishek Chaubey; Produced by Raman Maroo, Vishal Bhardwaj; Screenplay by Mr. Bhardwaj, Mr. Chaubey and Gulzar (story by Darab Farooqui); Cinematography by Setu; Editing by A. Sreekar Prasad and Music by Mr. Bhardwaj.

Starring: Arshad Warsi, Naseeruddin Shah, Madhuri Dixit, Huma Qureshi.

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Despite living movies 24/7 (, the writer is still truly, madly, deeply in love with cinema; the root cause of this anomaly requires further clinical trials.

He tweets @kamranjawaid

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (11) Closed

Movie Lover Jan 15, 2014 05:27pm

Many times I read biased remarks especially citing only bollywood masala flicks and that Bollywood does not offer new. I believe this time, for this movie, they must seek another reasons to curse bollywood as "Dedh Isshqiya" is totally unconventional movie. Last year also, there are unconventional movies like "Lootera", "Shaheed", "Madras Cafe", and many more, but they only think that Bollywood is only about movies like Chennai Express, Dhoom #3, and many more. I think they just criticise without watching such wonderful movies as mentioned above.

kishan Jan 15, 2014 05:43pm

boring movie 0.5/5

Pravin Jan 15, 2014 08:48pm

This movie deserves to be seen by all, specially who enjoys classic, musharya-urdu dialogue bazzi. Its a great film. I somehow didnt like first part, but this is more fun and would like to watch 1-2more times. Cant get over great n equally funny lines, Madhuri's dance and performance, and naseer-vijayraaz acting. Its a classic. I agree with most of other critics and this movie needs atleast 4 stars. Watch it to believe it. Seriously, you will no regret.

Sandeep Shah Jan 16, 2014 07:23am

A must watch for people who like old world charm of Urdu poetry and the Nawabi culture, The language of the movie is Urdu and that adds to the charm as well. Splendid performance by all actors. Its a must watch for sure.

Dixit Jan 16, 2014 07:07pm

I was very disappointed seeing more crowd in hopeless movie like "Yaariya". In cinema hall, There were merely around 30-50 persons . People's lack of support for new subject like this results in bombarding of brainless movies like Yaariya. This has been observed in case of Lootera also. I don't understand the reason behind the scarcity of audience for movies with some content in them, while there is abundance of admirers for movies like Chennai Express and Dhoom.

Anurag Priyadarshi Jan 16, 2014 07:08pm

Dedh Ishqiya is not a typical masala Bollywood film, it has a certain aura of sophistication and cultural ethos draped in an enthralling story with good performances by the protagonist and others.The nawaabi culture with its classical music and poetry, the rich Urdu language, dance tradition and historic relevance was the backbone of the Muslim social genre in the past Indian eras. Audiences now get to connect with and relish this glorious past .Sadly such movies don't appeal to general masses but to only those who have a taste for a different genre of movies with a discrete and suave story line,laced with an ethnic regal touch.The movie is definitely going to win acclaims from all quarters with an another sequel in the offing very soon.

PiuM Jan 16, 2014 08:30pm

Dedh Ishqyia proves once again " what complete actress means"; who is better than MD in the world in this context? Indian cinema gets its gorgeous gracious flavor back with this movie. Strong support obviously from Naseerji whereas Arshad is also fabulous. Huma plays her part without being nervous with all time super star Madhuri Dixit. Movie deserves congrats for strong dialogue and direction also.

Inder Varma Jan 17, 2014 05:03am

This film is a biographical sketch of the lives of the present day Raja and Rani of Mahmudabad.

Satya Jan 17, 2014 08:46am

I have not seen the film and may not as I do not have the luxury of time. But, read the review and must say I loved the narrative. You are a good writer and must try writing a novel. Just take my advice seriosuly.

Naga Jan 17, 2014 11:44am

Pakistan movie goers missed MADRAS CAFE, LOOTERA etc ...such wonderful classic film is not distributed but bakwas films like dhoom, chennai express, krish 3 etc is. Watch bollywood movies as this type which has the genre of classic if you want to explore beyond dhishum dhishm masala movies.

ProxyMoronic Jan 18, 2014 11:25am

You call the soundtrack lacklustre? Time for an ear checkup chum