Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ishqiya - Krishna gets a Valentine

Two goofball petty criminals are being chased by a bigger don. A loving husband and wife are separated by an explosion. After this and Omkara, we would be very afraid to traipse through Uttar Pradesh. It looks like every home breeds a killer. The children here learn to shoot before they learn to wash their butts. Despite such rampant criminalisation of life, there is very little fear. Rather, the criminals are lovable and apt more to fall in love than kill. Make love not war. Babban, who is a lustful whoremonger falls in love when the girl mouths foul words and holds up a rifle. Khalujan is smitten from the word go, as soon as Krishna sings a ditty. Krishna finds love amidst bombs when she sees her lover return to save her. Even Cuckoo the captive finds double love.

There is loads of story here, plenty of scenes that make you chuckle, some scenes that are so subtly funny that they will delight you. Songs are first rate, lyrics better. Who is not captivated by Dil to bachcha hai jee? Ibn-e-batuta took me back to my history lessons. Rekha Bhardwaj's smoky voice is very effective in the amazing Badi dheere jali. In retrospect, this song is perfect as the song of Krishna, who lives her mundane life without anyone suspecting how she is simmering inside.

The second part has been accused of being confusing, but it is not. Everything is well thought out, and ties up somewhere or the other. You have to pay attention to everything, even the old crone who asks for a light to burn her torch, and is sitting by calmly while Krishna goes about her daily business.

Naseruddin Shah...... Khalujan
Arshad Warsi...... Babban
Vidya Balan...... Krishna Verma
Salman Shahid...... Mushtaq
Adil Khan...... Vidhyadhar Verma
Anupama Kumar...... Manju Kakkar
Aalok Kumar...... Nandu
Rajesh Sharma...... Kamalkant Kakkar

I have reproduced the cast here because while the first three actors are very well known and famous, the others are not. The little comedy between Kamalkant Kakkar (Rajesh Sharma), his wife (Anupama Kumar) and the beauty parlour lady (I think - Gauri Mala) is truly truly delicious. These fine supporting actors add to the realistic look of the film.

If it has a failing, it is that of falling between two stools of menace and comedy. I suppose it is a bit of a farce, but it does not go there overmuch. Maybe the story telling is too plain for it. Omkara was gloriously comic and gloriously menacing when the plot demands it, even when Langda Tyagi is being funny, you are chilled because you know the guy is pure evil. This one is too gentle to make that kind of an impact. Vidya Balan is understated. Among the current crop of heroines, she is surely very capable of handling this kind of a role. I would have loved to see Mahie Gill here, she is much more uninhibited and would have done better in the more menacing avatar of Krishna.

Krishna needed to be made the centerpiece of film, as she is the mover and shaker here. I feel the story would have had more of an impact if her character had been given more menace and drama.

It merits a viewing, maybe two, maybe three.

I loved loved the re-appearance of Dhanno ki ankhon me raat ka surma, the classic Gulzar-RD Burman song from Kitab.