Or I am more aptly naming this "Hot Holy Damn, Arshad Warsi is Too Sexy For Words!" Okay, now that I've got that out of my system for now, I have to say that I was very excited to see this movie. I remember seeing the promo trailer eons ago and thought it reminded me quite a bit of the Cate Blanchett/Billy Bob Thornton/Bruce Willis film Bandits. While that movie did include a love triangle between the three leads, that is where the similarities end.

Directed by first time director Abhishek Chaubey, who cut his teeth writing screenplays and assistant directing for movies like Omkara, The Blue Umbrella and Kaminey, all which were critically acclaimed (though to be honest I tried watching Kaminey once and fell asleep). What Chaubey achieves in this film is the perfect balance of comedy, gritty realism and romance resulting in a wonderfully compelling, extremely well written story of two down and outs who find much more than either of them are looking for.

The movie begins with Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) finding themselves in a bit of hot water with Mushtaq Bhai (Salman Shahid) for something we're not quite sure, but there's a history there and it involves money and ice. Our boys are resourceful though and find themselves at the doorstep on an old cell-mate, who has unfortunately expired. However, his widow, Krishna (Vidya Balan) cautiously let's them in, and thus begins the foundation to our story.

Both of the men are instantly drawn to Krishna, for she is a crafty sorceress, selectively choosing which sides of her personality to expose to each man. And it works. Tapping into both Khalu and Babban's desires, Krishna hatches a plot that will solve all of their financial problems, but no scheme ever goes off as you originally plan, and what ensues is a roller coaster ride complete with unexpected twists and turns.

Ishqiya is one of those films that relies heavily on performance. It is almost entirely dialogue driven so you'd better hope that you have actors on board that can give the script the kind of genius it requires. Luckily for us, we get that in all three actors. Naseeruddin Shah is one of the those actors that demands respect even if you've never before seen another one of his movies. As Khalu, he expresses every characteristic of an aging man who falls for a young woman so wonderfully that you believe he has a genuine chance of winning her. His performance comes off as effortless, which is almost what you'd expect, but still leaves you in awe.

Thank God that we are getting to see some strong roles played by equally strong women. Vidya Balan has been on my radar for some time, but in this film she just shines! There are not many actresses out there than can emote such a variation of emotions at once. Yet, as Krishna, Vidya perfectly plays a character which requires her to look madly in love, vulnerable & helpless yet tough & menacing, the epitome of grace one moment yet wild and seductive the next, sometimes without even uttering a word. Absolutely one of the very best roles I have seen of Vidya's ever. Plus I'd kill to have Vidya's eyebrows (Okay, not really relative to the film, but they're really awesome!)

Arshad Warsi, oh my gosh, what can I say? There's something about Arshad that compels me to watch him. He is often the only good thing in otherwise sub par movies, at least for me, but in Ishqiya, I was absolutely blown away! With his kohl ringed eyes, ready wit, goofy grin, aggressive sexuality, angry stare and lovable roguishness, Babban is a force to be reckoned with. *spoiler* Though it was reported that he was very nervous about a crucial kissing scene in the film, it paid off big time, and is one of those erotically charged scenes that will be remembered in Hindi cinema for some time.*end spoiler* With Ishqiya under his belt, maybe we'll get to see Arshad in roles that he was born to play, instead of the secondary comic relief, because, man on man, does he have something very special! I'm very much looking forward to watching his first home production Hum, Tum Aur Ghost where he plays the lead romantic role. Also, if anyone is interested, Filmigirl will be hosting an international watchalong of HTAG on May 7th. Go here to register.

A quick note on the cast's chemistry. One word: perfection. We get a complete sense of camaraderie between uncle and nephew with Babban and Khalu in every sense. They love and fight with each other as real family would in a very believable way. The sexual tension between Khrisna and Babban is undeniably sweltering, and I applaud Chaubey for pushing the envelope.

Though the story and performances are undoubtedly key in the success of Ishqiya, I have to make special mention of the wonderful cinematography. No gringy cities, no European locations, only rural India, and every frame is shot to enhance its beauty. Also, no Hindi movie would be complete without music. The film's music, from Vishal Bhardwaj, is brilliant. Not only do we get to hear some beautiful older tunes (if someone knows what the opening song is called by the group of singers when Babban and Khalu are dancing, let me know), but there are clear winners on the soundtrack. Dil to Bachcha Hai and Ibn-E Batuta, which has been stuck in my head for days (watch the dvd special edition for a fun picturization), are my favorites, but the whole soundtrack is beautiful. Even the background score is fantastic, and fits the overall feel of the movie perfectly.

Run, don't walk, and watch this film. It is officially my new favorite Hindi movie. Also, make sure to watch all the special features on the dvd. In addition to Ibn-E Batuta, there's also a terrific making of featurette, as well as loads of deleted scenes (including a small shower scene for those Arshad fans!). Absolute perfection.

17 Response to "Ishqiya"

  1. Maya Magdalena says:
    April 24, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    Great post, awesome film! ♥

  2. Shell says:
    April 24, 2010 at 1:21 PM


  3. Tady Rox! says:
    April 24, 2010 at 11:02 PM

    This was one of the best films with a strong female lead i have seen in a looong time....Vidya is an acting goddess I worship her!!!....this film made me understand why Filmigirl finds Arshad so sexy...Nice! ;-)

  4. Anonymous Says:
    April 25, 2010 at 2:50 AM

    Nice review, Shellie!

    The song you refer to is Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh, from Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (1960), starring Raj Kumar, Meena Kumari and Nadira. It was remade by Honey Irani in recent times as Armaan (with Amitabh, Anil Kapoor, Priety Zinta and Gracy Singh). I didn't enjoy either movie, so no point discussing whether it was better or worse than the original :-) Dil Apna had a number of brilliant songs, but Ajeeb Daastaan is far and away the best of the lot.

    Trivia: Shanker-Jaikishen won the Filmfare award for Best Music Director that year, beating out Naushad (whose Mughal-E-Azam was in contention). Apparently, Naushad walked out of the event in protest when S-J won. Can't say I blame him -- I mean, as good as this album was, Mughal-E-Azam was a masterpiece.


  5. Anonymous Says:
    April 25, 2010 at 4:56 AM

    I don't fall in love with songs, but went completely crazy for Dil To Bacha Hay Jee, when I listened to it on the soundtrack. I was gobsmacked! It was basically the song, and the actor who was playing the baddie, that convinced me to go watch the movie. And it was Awesome!

    I concur!

  6. Anonymous Says:
    April 25, 2010 at 6:51 AM

    As it happened, I ended up watching this movie again today. My wife hadn't watched it before, so we popped in the DVD.

    There is so much to love about it, but what caught my attention this time around was how ABSOLUTELY fantafabuloustastic Salman Shahid (who plays Mushtaq) is. That last line, of course, is a work of art :-)

  7. Filmi Girl says:
    April 25, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    Yay!! Great review!! And I agree that Vidya Balan did a fantastic job with one of the most complex female roles to come out of Bollywood in a while... :D

  8. ajnabi says:
    April 26, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    I'm so glad that Vidya finally got a project that deserves her talent--first time since Parineeta IMO!

  9. Shell says:
    April 26, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    @Tady Rox - Vidya absolutely personifies strength in this film, and I always liked Arshad, but this film took it to a whole other level!

    @Ramsu - shukriya yaar for the compliment and for Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh. I am going to look it up for my ipod. Interesting tidbit about the awards. I haven't seen Mughal-E-Azam, but I have heard it's epic.

    I failed to talk about Salman Shahid in my review. Maybe a 2nd viewing is in order for me as well!

  10. Shell says:
    April 26, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    @dishoomdishoom - Namaskar and welcome to my blog. I'm so glad you loved the movie. Dil To Bacha Hay Jee is indeed a beautiful song any way you look at it (often it's the songs that propell me to see a film). Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Shell says:
    April 26, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    @filmigirl - Thanks! I found an older copy of Filmfare this morning with a preview of this year's releases and reread that the buzz for Ishqiya wasn't very high. I think they gave it 2 out of 4. It's interesting to see sometimes what these little films can do over the big hyped up ones. I almost want to watch it already again.

    @ajnabi - I totally agree. I much prefer her doing work like this to stuff like Kismat Konnection. I wasn't going to watch Paa, but with all the buzz on her performance I picked it up also. I'm discovering that I'm really enjoying more types of films than the typical kjo types.

  12. Jules says:
    April 27, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    Wow, okay... I need to give it a second try then. When can I borrow it??

  13. Shell says:
    April 27, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    Never mind borrowing. I'll bring it over and we can watch it together. MMMMMMM.... Arshad!!!!

  14. theBollywoodFan says:
    May 6, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Agree on almost all points here, Shell. Of course, the three big performances made the film, just some brilliant artists at work, starting with Naseeruddin. And I really enjoyed the bits where Arshad Warsi would sing (more like yell out, LOL) songs from Om Shanti Om (IIRC, there was more than one), just hilarious.

    I'm discovering that I'm really enjoying more types of films than the typical kjo types.

    Very cool!!! :)

  15. Shell says:
    May 10, 2010 at 7:27 AM

    Yes, just the eptitome of a perfect trio! I remembered Arshad singing, but I couldn't remember where it was in the film, even after scanning through again. Do you?

    I'm still a rom com girl at heart, but every once in a while you just have to experience different stuff!

  16. theBollywoodFan says:
    May 17, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    Arshad was singing at different points in time. I think once while in the restroom, another time while in the car with Naseer and Vidya, probably once more which I can't remember. It was almost always interspersed with dialogue, won't be the easiest to find, there are probably multiple instances of the above-mentioned situations too.

  17. Shell says:
    May 17, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    @tfb - guess I'll have to rewatch the whole thing to find them. Darn ;)