Sunday, January 12, 2014

Random review: Dedh Ishqiya

So Raja Sen of Rediff, who used to be my favorite movie reviewer once upon a time (until he gave Oye Lucky Lucky Oye 5 stars, making me lose 3 (or was it 38737589234?) precious hours of my life that I will never get back), gave Dedh Ishqiya 5 stars, which made me very very suspicious. After all, I had not even liked the prequel Ishqiya too much. However, I googled 'Dedh Ishqiya movie review' and every single review was positive, if not glowing. I'd also been dying to watch a decent movie in the theatre since the disastrous Shuddh Desi Romance, which incidentally had also got good reviews, but was a total waste of my Xena-free time. Honestly, if I'm going to be away from her, I'd rather it be for a very very good reason, such as a very very good movie in the theatre.

Anyway, so there we were, my friend N and me, in City Square Mall after a sumptuous lunch at Apollo Banana Leaf restaurant. Yes, we braved Little India on a Sunday (I'm sure you guys read about the lovely riot that happened there a few Sundays ago.) because both N and I wanted to watch the movie in a Golden Village theatre rather than the desi Jade theatre which is a pain in every which way possible, and the only central Golden Village playing the movie was in City Square Mall. We reached the theatre at 1:39 pm, for the 1:40 pm show, phew! Missing the trailers would have broken both our hearts.

Speaking of trailers, they only showed two - Jai Ho and Gunday - both exceptionally loud trailers, which only worries me. If the trailers are this loud, lord save our ears in the movies. Not that I intend to watch either of them. Tabu totally put me off with her "Mera bhai aayega" act (seriously Tabu? That's what you've been reduced to?) and Gunday didn't appeal to me as much I'd thought it would after watching Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh on Koffee with Karan. Did you watch that episode? It's hilarious. Watch it. NAO.

There was also the mandatory Ricola ad, regarded by many, including me, as the worst of Singaporean advertising. But what made me really proud of Singapore was the ad on safe sanitation and world toilet day. Yes, there is such a day and Singapore is the one that started it and even got the UN to adopt it to promote safe sanitation across the world.

Oh my goodness, I just realised I'm already four paragraphs down and nowhere near talking about the movie that this post is supposedly about. So here goes. Disclaimer 1 - There might be spoilers ahead, so don't read if you're going to watch the movie. Disclaimer 2 - Don't go by my review at all, I have the weirdest taste in Hindi movies.

So Dedh Ishqiya follows the lives of Khalu and Babban, with new love interests, though I wonder what happened to Vidya Balan's character. Wasn't she with Babban at the end of Ishqiya? Or maybe I'd dozed off and missed the real ending. Anyway, the plot of Dedh Ishqiya is actually quite good, and most certainly better developed than the prequel. What I liked the most about the movie were the crisp dialogues and humour, and some very good acting by Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi and Vijay Raaz. Some of the scenes, especially those involving Arshad Warsi, were really funny and had me in splits. I'm so heartbroken at the thought that Munnabhai 3 may never happen.

However, overall the story didn't quite cut it for me. For one, I felt a bit confused about the time the story was set in. On one hand, we had nawabs, begums, shaayars, mushairas, and even a swayamwar thrown in, and yet on the other hand, Babban was hell bent on promoting the iPhone 5. Another issue I had was the age difference between Para and Khalu. In the present, while there were clearly a few decades between them, the flashback (by the way, was it really necessary to show that they had shared some history?) showed them to be almost of the same age. It was also relatively easy to guess that Para had orchestrated her own kidnapping, taking away some of the suspense.

Madhuri Dixit, touted to be absolutely scintillating at Begum Para in all the reviews, kind of disappointed me. For one, she was surrounded by much better actors like Naseerudddin Shah, Vijay Raaz and Arshad Warsi. Also, I expected her entry scene to blow me away. Sure, she is still gorgeous at 46 and was dressed to the nines, but there was something about her face that was very... off. N and I were trying to figure out if it was age, bad make-up or simply Botox? I think she looks so much better on television. Anyway, I thought her acting was alright, but nothing out of the ordinary. She was ably supported by the beautiful Huma Qureshi as Muniya. There were quite a few scenes between them, and in fact, at one point N suspected that Para and Muniya were lovers! I briefly entertained that thought (especially during the scene with their dancing sillhouettes) before dismissing it. One, she did seem to enjoy the younger Khalu's attentions. Two, she did seem disappointed that her husband was not into women. And three, I don't think Madhuri would be that open to playing a lesbian. Later, when we found out that the nawab had been gay, I burst out laughing in my head. That would be something - a gay nawab-and-begum couple! Or maybe she was bisexual. I don't know. The movie didn't really leave the question lingering. Maybe it should have.

I also felt that the pace of the movie was kind of slow. Sure, much of it was about slow, poetic romance, but still, some parts were just too slow for my liking. In spite of the slow pace, the story itself started out well, but seemed very randomly put together towards the end. I actually went "huh?" when Italwi suddenly jumped out from the goods train with a big gun and started randomly shooting. If that was the 'twist' in the story that the reviewers were raving about, it was a very meh-inducing one. And what was with the inspector 'John Vijay'? I wasn't sure if his sudden and random inclusion was inspired by Mohanlal in Company, or for comic relief (it wasn't funny).

Respect to Naseeruddin Shah for being the most senior actor (he's 63!) and yet being the one who got beaten up the most in the movie. When and where possible, everyone took a whack at him. But he did look very regal in the nawabi outfits, though I wish the song he sang at the mushaira had been sung by someone else. The late Jagjit Singh would have really nailed it.

Lastly, I was SO thankful the movie had subtitles. I have an interest in Urdu and understand a bit of Urdu shayari too, but many of the shers and dialogues would have just swooshed over my head if not for the subtitles!

Overall, the movie is all right and worth a one-time watch. Arshad Warsi fans should definitely not miss it.


Arun said...


Thanks, never understood my generation's fascination with Madhuri Dixit; so you saved me (or is it 38737589234) hours. Duly marked up on the pani puri treat account ledger :).

How do we know said...

hmmm... I saw parts of it yesterday(the parts where I wasn't going in and out of the theatre and the first 30 minutes that we missed) .. and LOVED it. why didn't they make MAdhuri dance more?

Arindam said...

Hmm. The "twist" is indeed what you have deemed as improbable. Do read this

Anonymous said...

Didnt read your actual review parts because I like to know nothing of a movie while watching it but I think Madhuri looks weird because of cheek implants. I loved Ishqiya so looking forward to this, but I dont have high hopes from Madhuri.

Sayesha said...

You're welcome. :) She's not the best part of the movie, but there are some good parts. Did you like Ishqiya? Then you'll probably love this. So don't go solely by my review. :)

How do we know,
LOL, I'm so glad I put my disclaimers. :P

WOW. Thanks for the link. He did say 'lihaaf' very very meaningfully, so I'm pretty sure the analysis is correct, but surely 99% (including me) would not get that reference unless they knew about the lihaaf story? Also, if Khalu and Babban 'found out' in the lihaaf scene, why then did Babban say "They love us" when he thought they had bailed them out? Hmmm...

If you loved Ishqiya, you will super love Dedh Ishqiya. :) I didn't like Ishqiya but I do think Dedh Ishqiya is better. :)

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Anonymous said...

Just saw. IMO Ishqiya was awesome but I liked this one too. The story is too much like Ishqiya so the newness/surprise factor isnt there. But loved Naseer and Arshad and the dialogues (reminded me of Sanjeev Kumar in Angoor - aap mujhse urdu mein baat kar rahe hain?). Agreed about Madhuri, her face is frozen. And yeah the voice of Naseer's poem was wrong.