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'Dedh Ishqiya': Not half as fun as Ishqiya

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MUMBAI: Here is another sequel, Dedh Ishqiya, following the 2010 film Ishqiya. The producers and the director remain the same and so do the protagonists, Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi. They continue to be petty thieves always on the run from a local don, Salman Shahid, and while dodging him; their greed leads them into another complication. The idea is interesting since the story involves a lot of plots, betrayals and backstabbing. The end could have been a shocker but seems to have been compromised in favour of pleasing the Indian moviegoer’s senses as well as to deliver the promise of one more sequel.

Shah and Arshad have just stolen a costly necklace from a jeweller’s shop. Their ways of carrying out such heists being crude, they are caught in the act and the police are on their back. Shah uses the opportunity to ditch Arshad since the necklace is with him. A livid Arshad is desperately looking for him and while in action in a whorehouse, he learns the whereabouts of his partner-in-crime. He learns that Shah is headed for Mahmudabad to participate in a mushaira organised by the widow Begum of the province. The Begum, Madhuri Dixit, declares that her husband, the Nawab, was a poet and that is why, before he died he made her promise that she will marry again but to a poet. Hence, she has organised the mushaira so that she could anoint the winner as her husband and the Nawab of the province. Shah’s idea is to gatecrash into the contest, win it and become the Nawab and settle for life.

Shah is at the venue, introduces himself as Nawab of another province and gives looks to Madhuri which make his intentions clear. As the mushaira opens, there are many contestants but Shah impresses. Also impressive is Vijay Raaz, a Nawab from across the river. He will be the villain of the piece for Shah since he has coveted Madhuri forever. Vijay is no poet by any stretch of imagination. What he has done is to kidnap and imprison a reputed poet named Italvi, Manoj Pahwa, who is forced to pen shairis which Vijay goes and mouths at the competition.

It is day two of the contest and Vijay has excelled in his rendition. Shah chooses to opt for a song instead which will also help him express his feelings for Madhuri; by now, he is in love with her! There is a huge round of applause as he finishes the song, the gathering is unanimous in their appreciation but Shah’s joy vanishes as he spots Arshad eyeing him angrily from the crowd. Being inseparable as they are, both join forces again with a common goal, to clean up the Begum’s treasury. What follows is a three-way war of wits between the duo, Madhuri and her aide and confidante, Huma Qureshi and Vijay Raaz and his goons which is fun in parts.

What a viewer misses in Dedh Ishqiya is a character like Vidya Balan in the earlier film. While the Shah- Arshad duo is street smart, Madhuri as the Begum with Adab is not a fitting counter. The other drawback is the villain played by Vijay Raaz, he just does not make the league and overacts; as it is mentioned in one of the scenes, he does not have the DNA for the character he plays. The dialogue is chaste Urdu, so much so that the film comes with English sub-titles! What was the need? The film could easily have had simple Urdu dialogue. It is not as if the characters—Shah and Arshad—are real nawabs.

Abhishek Chaube’s direction is capable. Musically, while some songs may have pleasant tunes; the lyrics are not easy to catch. Cinematography is patchy. The ambience is convincing. Arshad is in his element in a tapori role once again. Shah is good as usual. Madhuri and Huma are okay. Manoj Pahwa, in a brief role, is good.

Dedh Ishqiya has not had a good opening. The package has failed to create attraction for the compulsive early moviegoer which does not augur well for the coming days.

Producers: Raman Maru, Vishal Bhardwaj.

Director: Abhishek Chaube.

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

'Yaariyan': Music Saves the Day

Yaariyan launches a few new artistes but mainly the film launches Divya Khosla Kumar, wife of T-Series head honcho, Bhushan Kumar, who makes her debut, writes the story, shares the credit for screenplay and, most of all, wields the megaphone. Even as the company has made numerous joint ventures or outsourced projects, with this film it introduces an in-house filmmaker.

In keeping with the company’s profile, the film is planned as a musical, which caters to contemporary tastes and youth and hence is a film about college students. It provides all the scope to sing, dance, swing and romance. Finally, the ambience is provided by the picturesque locations of Shimla and South Africa. Thereafter, the story is a bit too far-fetched, twisting and turning as and when needed.

This college is in Sikkim (that is where the story is based notwithstanding the location) where there are all kinds of students except Sikkimmis. The students, as in most such films, come to college as if to a park or a disco; they do everything but study. For most of the first half, the film has no purpose except some supposedly youthful pranks. There is a mandatory bitch, a witch, a plain Jane, a gay character and what have you to complete the clichéd character muster. Not all are relevant. All this makes first half of the film quite testing for the viewer.

It is time something happened to push the film forward. So the story is finally inserted: This College with multiple facilities was set up by the local royal eons back. The royals have sold off many properties on the campus to an Australian prospect hunter. This deal includes the ladies hostel on the premises which is the biggest loss for the boys in the college! The only way these blocks on the property can be salvaged is by winning a bunch of competitions between the local students and their Australian counterparts. So the college guys and girls go on a trip to Australia which, like many such films from Dirty Dozen to Magnificent Seven, include specialists—a rock climber, a chess player, a racer, a rocker modelled on the Archies. As is the reputation pinned on all Indians by films, they get drunk all night, are not in senses the next day for a contest and lose. Also, given what we know of cricket, Australians are always known to play unfair and in the process, they not only cheat but also kill one of hero’s best friends.

The team comes back with ashen faces but all is not lost. There is still a return match to be played on Indian soil. Back home, the hero, Himansh Kohli, chasing all kinds of girls, finally finds his true love in the plain Jane, Rakul Preet Singh, as the oiled-hair girl turns into the Thoroughly Modern Millie. The Indian flag flies high as the rivals are made to see practical Indian values.

While the new actors are okay to passable, direction needs a lot of honing. The hero of the film is its music which has translated into good opening shows for the film which, with its reasonable price tag, should sail through to safety.

Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar.

Director: Divya Khosla Kumar.

Cast: Himansh Kohli, Dev Sharma, Serah Singh, Rakul Preet Singh, Nicole Faria, Evelyn Sharma, Shreyas Pardi, Gulshan Grover, Deepti Naval, Smita Jaykar, Honey Singh, Arvind Balli.

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