Bollywood Review: Dedh Ishqiya

dedhishqiya_story_650_010914021453Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Madhuri Dixit, Huma Qureshi, Vijay Raaz, Manoj Pahwa

Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey

Madhuri Dixit’s “comeback”, back in 2007 with Aaja Nachle, didn’t really go too well. It should have, it was a decent film produced by Yashraj, had good music and was about dance, and Dixit is considered the best dancer from her generation of actors. But it didn’t do too well, which could be contributed to various reasons. Six and a bit years later, she returns to the big screen in Abhishek Chaubey’s Dedh Ishqiya, a sequel to the 2010 film Ishqiya, which sees Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi reprise their roles of Khalujaan and Babban. From what I hear, the film isn’t doing too well at the box office, but the film itself is actually pretty good.

Babban and his Khalujaan are up to their usual antics, pretending to be nawabs, and stealing necklaces from jewellery stores. After splitting up running away from the police, Khalujaan disappears, leaving Babban in the lurch with Mushtaq-bhai, the gang leader they were actually stealing the necklace for. After managing to get away, Babban finally finds him at Begum Para’s (Madhuri Dixit) mansion, who is holding a celebration with the greatest, and richest poets, from all over India, hoping to find a husband, after promising her previous husband, a Nawab, on his death bed to only marry a poet. Khalu is there to try his luck, hoping to win her over and be able to retire to a life of luxury.

While the whole looking for a husband thing is a little strange, the character of Begum Para is actually suits Madhuri fairly perfectly, to which she brings the right amount of grace and elegance, and it’s even age-appropriate (though they’re never clear about exactly how old she should be). The character also has a dance background, but isn’t the focus of the story, as it was with Aaja Nachle. And she looks great, and I don’t mean ‘for her age’, especially in the wonderful costumes, by Payal Saluja. Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin Shah are both on top form, and they work really well together as a duo. There isn’t really a weak link in the lead four (including Huma Qureshi), which is impressive given their varying levels of experience as actors. Because Begum Para is looking for a groom who is a poet, there is a lot of Urdu poetry in some scenes, the first of which, which is also Dixit’s introduction scene, has a wonderful tone to it. It isn’t violent or obviously funny, which a lot of the film is, and yet it fits in perfectly.

Vishal Bhardwaj is one of my favourite Bollywood music composers, because he’s always consistent in producing quality songs for each album. He’s very selective in the films or filmmakers he will compose for though, which is probably for the best. The qawali Kya Hoga and Hamari Atariya Pe (was very pleased it features during the end credits) are my favourites from the album, but the other three are lovely to listen to, and Jagaave Saari Raina was wonderfully directed and choreographed. Zabaan Jale Hai is sung a cappella, which doesn’t really do the song or the lyrics justice, but it makes more sense than music appearing out of nowhere.

I definitely went to see Dedh Ishqiya more for the music, than anything else but came out very pleasantly surprised. As well as enjoying Vishal Bhardwaj’s great work, I really enjoyed the rest of the film too, which is actually pretty funny at times. It manages to be comic without being slapstick or silly, which is so commonly the way to go in Bollywood nowadays. I think this was a good move for Madhuri Dixit, doing a film that’s a little different to big budget, glossy ways of Yashraj. I completely understand wanting to make a comeback with a studio like YRF, but that didn’t go quite to plan. Hopefully, even if the film doesn’t do well financially, people will appreciate it all the same.

Dedh Ishqiya is out now.

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