Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dedh Ishqiya -- a farce on stilts, moving from Tarantino to spaghetti Western and of course a play on perhaps Federico Fellini's 8 1/2

Vishal Bhardwaj is the producer and Abhishek Chaubey is the director. Bhardwaj provides the music as well the screenplay. This is a sequel to Ishqiya, starring Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi. The fact that the sequel is Dedh Ishqiya, which can literally be translated as Isqhiya And A Half, which can be a throwback to Federico's "8 1/2" (1963).In this film Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi re-appear, and there are two heroines -- Madhuri Dixit and Huma Qureshi.Some sort of a "Trinity Is Still My Name" if anyone remembers that film starring Bud Spencer and Terence Hill made in 1971.

The movie is not what you see. It is not about nawab played, literally, by Naseeruddin Shah and nautch girl -- and again a play of role -- by Madhuri Dixit. It is not about Urdu speech or Urdu poetry. There is quite a bit of all these thrown into it as some sort of spicy ingredients to turn out a tasty dish. There is a comedian-villain whom the former nautch girl - this point is not clarified in the movie - chooses to save the nawabdom. And she with her fellow-conspirator played by Huma Qureshi, who smokes, uses a pistol, plays the traditional mole, the nautch girl ends playing the Thelma & Louise (1991) finale!

Bhardwaj, Chaubey, Anurag Kashyap, and to an extent Tigmanshu Dhulia, have all been trying to make good movies with a farcical twist, they want to make meaningful cinema without wanting to sound or looking artistic or serious or meditative. They introduce the raucous element to lighten what they think is the existential burden of their films. In trying to do so, they miss the fun of making a farcical movie, they fall flat on their faces in their bid to redefine good cinema. Their efforts turn out to be clownish and they seem to believe that the clownish act is really a philosophical statement in disguise. All that they seem to end up turning out is trash of a slightly learned kind.

Madhuri Dixit looks glamorous and mature, somewhat Mala Sinha-ish. Huma Qureshi, like Mahie Gill, deserves to get better glamorous roles because she has wonderful acting talent which needs a nice mainstream cinema heroine role. Qureshi has a good comic timing like Elizabeth Hurley and Neha Dhupia. But it would be sad if Gill, Qureshi, and even Dhupia land on the heap of also-ran.

The film-makers might even delude themselves that they have managed to bring back the scent of Urdu and the faded glory of the so-called nawabi glamour in a satirical vein because to bring these elements in a serious fashion like a commercial mainstream Hindi film would do is a pathetic attempt, and the heroic way of doing it is to show it with a trace of self-deprecatory tone. It is a rather foolish self-mockery because it lacks the underlying seriousness of vision and texture.

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