Monday, May 28, 2012

Ishaqzade, a derailed Romeo-Juliet/Do Badan/Bonnie and Clyde saga

Director and writer Habib Faisal seems to have set out to do one kind of a movie -- the gritty political thriller set in small town Hindi heartland India -- but ended up doing a Romeo and Juliet tragic romantic saga. There is an element of Bonnie and Clyde because of the trigger-happy young couple. It is once again in the now familar irritating mould of the so-called new wave Hindi cinema. Mumbai-based, UP-Delhi-origin film directors who think that they know all about politics because of the distorted political reality they see all around them but they are not able to make a political movie because they do not have a grasp of what politics really is. So, Prakash Jha makes a mess of Rajneeti as do people like Vishal Bhardwaj and Co. Habib Faisal belongs somewhere here in this blurred constellation of filmmakers.

But the virtues first. He has taken up a bold theme of a Muslim Qureshi girl falling in love with a Hindi Chauhan boy. He could have handled the theme in a more meaningful way and taken it to a more sensible culmination than what he has chosen to portray. He walked into a romantic cul de sac because Habib Faisal refused to deal with the real complexity of the situation.

He also presents a caricatured picture of what  a small north Indian town with its gun culture and polarised politics deals with human lives. One does not get the realistic tragic picture of a town sucked into emaingless violence. Neither Faisal nor his contemporaries have the maturity to portray small town India in all its nuanced hues.

 Parineeti Chopra as Zoya Qureshi is really all fire and she sets the screen ablaze with her burning eyes and explosive  histrionics. This girl like Anushka Sharma personifies joi de vivre and she has the brightness of an exploding star in terms of the astronomical event. Chopra carries the film on her shoulders. She shows passion and innocence with such intensity that only youth can bring to life. There are times when you felt that perhaps that she is a little too loud, a little too exuberant without a break and you tire of her unflagging energy. She did the kissing scenes with great abandon and the other actresses and actors have much to learn from her in this matter!

There are touching moments when it is the women in the male-dominated world who show strength and purpose, a touch of humanity and rare courage and grit. It is Parmar Chauhan's widowed mother Parvati played by Natasha Rastogi who knocks sense into her spoilt son. It is Zoya's mother Chand Rastogi who tries to help her daughter. And it is the nautch girl Chand Baby played by Gauhar Khan who helps Parma and Zoya when they are in trouble. It is a beautiful depiction of the strength of the weak people in the social system.

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