If there’s one word that would describe Dedh Ishqiya in the most apt way, it’s chaos. Dedh Ishqiya is chaos personified, a beautiful chaos.
The film opens with a gripping chase scene involving Arshad Warsi who is fleeing from Mustaq (Salman Shahid). Forget the chase scenes that involve fast cars, motorbikes and wide highways, this is a chase scene that takes place in the narrow gullies of Northern India (Uttar Pradesh). It’s raw and oozes with desiness. As an audience, you are gripped and you get a gut feeling that what you are going to watch is going to be one hell of an experience.
Everything from director Abhishek Chaubey’s narrative to the beautifully-penned screenplay and dialogues by Vishal Bhardwaj, Gulzar and Chaubey to Madhuri Dixit-Nene’s presence on screen are pitch perfect.
Khalujaan Iftikhar Hussain (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) rob a jewelry store of an expensive necklace. Being chased by the police, Khalujaan and Babban get separated. While Babban ends up in a pit, Khalujaan escapes.
If you liked Ishqiya for its raw and rustic flavour, you will love Dedh Ishqiya because it isn’t just raw and rustic, it’s rich, literally. As you watch the film, you’ll get to see the two sides of Uttar Pradesh. On one side, you’ll be in awe of the palatial opulence of the Nawabs, and on the other side, you see the rural touch of Uttar Pradesh seamlessly blending within its rich history. The contrast between the two worlds has been depicted in an unbiased way. Chaubey doesn’t try to belittle or praise either of the worlds, but brings forth the real picture.
Cinematographer Setu, and the production designers Subrata Chakrabarty and Amit Ray, need to be given credit for this very look and the feel of Dedh Ishqiya.
The lighting is natural and leaves each frame with a glow that makes them stand-out individually. The editing by Sreekar Prasad, takes care of the pacing and the flawless transition from one scene to another.
While Babban and Khalujaan with their criminal ways keep you interested in the film, Jaan Mohammad (Vijay Raaz) provides comic relief. Raaz does a fantastic job as a criminal-turned-politician-turned shaayar. His attempts to fake Nawabiness, will leave you in splits.
As the film progresses, you realize that there are no good or bad characters in Dedh Ishqiya, but only grey characters. Everyone from Khalujaan to Jaan Mohammad to Babban are victims of their own fate, who have turned to ‘bad’ doings because of the situation that life has put them in. But Babban and Khalujaan as always enjoy revelling in crime.
Dixit puts up a laudable performance as Begum Para, a stunningly gorgeous middle-aged widow who is trapped inside the walls of a royal palace. In memory of her deceased husband, every year she holds something that is a sort of a Swayamvar, that will help her zero down on the man she feels is fit to wear the shoes of the deceased Nawab. Her only condition being, that whoever she selects must woo her with shaayari.
Khalujaan takes up this challenge and enters the palatial grounds and is smitten by the Begum. Much to his surprise and delight, the Begum too takes a liking for him. But something doesn’t seem right in la-la-land and this is what exactly forms the crux of the plot.
Dixit’s Begum Para, mesmerizes you with her grace, charm and elegance. As she Kathak’s her way onto the silver screen, her gestures and the expressions on her face tell the story of her long-lost past.
Because of Khalujaan, Babban too gains entry into the palatial grounds and into the heart of Munniya (Huma Qureshi). Munniya is both a chaperone and a confidante to Begum Para. Having watched Ishqiya, you know that you can expect unexpected twists by the women in the film and that is exactly what happens. However, the way these twists have been executed coupled with the ace acting skills of Naseeruddin Shah, Vijay Raaz, Arshad Warsi, Madhuri Dixit and Huma Qureshi, add to the film’s entertainment quotient.
Watch out for Shah’s Nawab act in the film, Bhardwaj, Gulzar and Chaubey’s rustic and raw dialogues, Dixit’s Begum act and her Kathak performance, and a aesthetically-shot encounter scene between the police, Jaan Mohammed and his goons and Khalujaan, Babban, Begum and Munniya. Vishal Bharadwaj’s background score in this particular scene only adds to the scene’s beauty.
Dedh Ishqiya is a royal affair, one that promises to offer you more than your money’s worth.