Movie Review: ISHQIYA (2010)
I love messed up movies from Bollywood. I mean the kind of movies that are vulgar, cross a line and don’t worry about the sensibilities of the audience, as most Bollywood movies do. Maybe that makes me a li’l messed up too. However, Vishal Bhardwaj is one filmmaker who respects and doesn’t talk down to his audience. And he does exactly that with a movie he wrote called ISHQIYA. Here is my Movie Review…
Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars
ISHQIYA is a story about a woman, the wife of a criminal who ends up giving refuge to two small time crooks on the run from someone they owe. What follows is a story about how the 2 crooks end up involving this woman in their crazy ass plot, and how nothing they know is how it seems.
Despite the thriller and suspense aspects of this movie, it’s ultimately a love story. Not one that is polite and sweet, but horribly awful with concepts that challenge the conventional definitions of love. And even the ‘love story’ I’m referring to isn’t as obvious as you’d expect.
Vidya Balan as the wife and sole woman in the movie, is amazing and surprising. ISHQIYA was released years before THE DIRTY PICTURE and I didn’t realize how ballsy her performance was in this. She plays a manipulatively traumatized wife whose shrewdness is as subtle as her beauty. Balan is an amazing actress and she doesn’t disappoint in this.
As much as ISHQIYA is about Balan’s character, the two male leads are have amazing layers and are given a lot to do as well. Veteran Naseeruddin Shah and the usually comic Arshad Warsi play off of one another very well. The intensity of Shah is evenly matched with the crass nature of Warsi’s character. The two small time crooks slash relatives battling out for the affections of one woman, while on the run for their lives… provides great tension as well as some comedy in appropriate moments.
The shining stars of ISHQIYA really are the Director and Writer. Director Abhishek Chaubey does a brilliant job of extracting excellent performances from everyone, and doesn’t let the movie get bogged down by its sub plots or other story threads. Everything centers on these 3 characters, and Chaubey ensures that we know this.
As a usual Vishal Bhardwaj movie is, ISHQIYA is very rural and regional. The language, dialects and setting are village areas, distinctly regional characters and contexts. Only serving as Writer, Bhardwaj allows Chaubey to shine with a movie, which is, in comparison to Bhardwaj’s others, is a lot smaller and less complicated. However, despite the niche and regional aspects of the story, one is never lost or not able to understand anything that’s happening. The regional dialects may be a problem for the average or international audience, however the subtitles provide an excellent translation of everything that’s going on.
I’ve always felt Bhardwaj’s film have an international appeal to them, as they almost always feature these rural parts of India with characters to match. This appeal shines in ISHQIYA as we’re shown a world full of criminals for whom this is a way of life and no one ever shirks away from it.
ISHQIYA at first glance seems like a very simple and even uninteresting tale, however, it ends up being a grand story with shades of a heist film, mystery and a shocking thriller.