Romance, Poetry, and the Lovelorn Nawab

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Saat mukaam hote hai ishq mein – dilkashi, uns, mohabbat, aqeedat, ibaadat, junoon aur…

I don’t remember Ishqiya too well. I remember being impressed, I remember being unimpressed. I remember applauding the performances, I remember finding the performances flawed. I remember the music, I forget the music. I loved the dialogues, I hated the dialogues. Ishqiya was the beginning of a mature franchisee. Ishqiya was not mature enough.

Yeh dil ki lakeer hai, jagah jagah kati huyi, ishq mei bahut chotein khaai hain aapne

For someone who always stresses on the screenplay and plotline for cinema and theatre, Dedh Ishqiya remains a dilemma. The plot is mediocre, the storyline is easily predictable. But, in a very surprising manner, the film seems unaffected by this major gaffe. Is it because acting stalwarts are at the helm on screen? Is it the production value (up by quite some notches from the first installment) or the sheer prowess of the dialogues? Which factors are powerful enough to induce the hawk-eyed of critics to forgive the lack of a strong storyline?

Pehle bhi dekha hai ishq mein andha bawla hote. Par chutiya pehli baar dekhriya hoon main

The writing, for starters. It was a very intelligent decision to bring Gulzar saab on board as a writer for a story based on poets and lovers in suburban Uttar Pradesh. The result is exquisite Urdu spoken with a rhythm and passion so rare in the country today. Gulzar saab might be the only living individual who romances the language, like a coy bride, coaxing it to slowly unveil itself. When someone writes this –

Phoolon ki tarah lab khol kabhi

Khushboo ki zubaan mein bol kabhi

                                                                                                                                       – you realize that this man is in a relationship with the language. His dialogues (written along with Vishal Bhardwaj) and lyrics for the film shine with wit, humour, and a mature romance which lends a beautiful mood. While Bhardwaj’s music is not as good as the first film, Humari atariya, Ishqiya, and Na bolu main are beautiful numbers steeped in nostalgia. When Humari atariya plays for the first time from a gramophone, it reminds you of the beautiful Akhtari ghazal it is inspired by. The production, costume, and set design are impeccable with an almost anal madness for detail. Shot in warm and jewel tones, the cinematography aptly supports the mood set by the dialogues and the music.

Itna mehenga? Sherwani ke andar Nawab bhi taang rakha hai kya?

Two small time uncle-nephew thief duo, Khalu jaan and Babban, decide to pretend like poets to win the heart of a widowed Begum looking for a poet husband. While the uncle falls for the Begum, even though his original identity is a niggling worry behind the farce he creates of being the Nawab of Chandpur, the nephew embarks upon a stormy affair with the Begum khaas attendant. A powerful MLA keeps a poet under house arrest to churn out poetry for him to woo the Begum. While the Begum finds herself losing herself to the older thief, which poet will she choose for a husband? And does she have any ulterior motive? Does Muniya, her attendant, have a mind of her own? Or are they hatching a plan together? The limp story line is propped up on scenes that stand strong on their own. The opening sequence with Mushtaq bhai, the thieving duo’s boss, and Babban is crackling with wit. When Khalu and Babban pretend to be a Nawab and a butler out to purchase expensive jewellery is another example. The intelligence of these singular moments is admirable – the masterstroke is the hint of lesbianism at the turning point of the film which explains everything without saying anything at all.

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Agar Joker mar gaya to saala Batman kya karega? Ghar baithke aataa goondega?

These moments are further enhanced, of course, by the performances. Naseer saab and Madhuri share a wonderful chemistry on screen, which is both innocent and fragile, yet burning with passion. Arshad surprises us again with how impressive a character actor he is. His camaraderie with Naseer saab’s Khalu jaan is a cinematic treat – understated, natural, and witty. It was wonderful to see Vijay Raaz after a very long time and he does a fantastic job as the corrupt MLA. Huma Qureshi is overpowered by everybody and she tries hard to shine through, unfortunately though. It must have been an excellent learning opportunity for her to have worked with such a veteran cast. Also, the actor who plays the role of Mushtaq bhai needs special mention everywhere.

First-look-Dedh-Ishqiya-movie-posters

The most impressive factor about Dedh Ishqiya is that it does not allow itself to be restrained by the demands of the box office. Abhishek Chaubey introduces the audience to chaste urdu, ghazal and durbari music, elderly romance, sombre moments, and nostalgia, and treats them as mainstream components. That is where his achievement lies. DI tells you that, even though you may sway your hips to Gandi baat, romance lies in the soft tremors of the heart. Na bolu main toh kaleja phute…Jo bol doon toh zubaan jale hai.

Image courtesy: Google images

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One thought on “Romance, Poetry, and the Lovelorn Nawab

  1. Pingback: Bollywood Report: First Quarter (January to March) | The Lazy Critic Blog

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