This appeared in Bombay Times today....
Romeo and Juliet in Uttar Pradesh...
Even if Director Habib Faisal is no Franco Zeffirelli ( his remains the definitive ‘Romeo and Juliet ’movie in my book) what he has managed to do with such energy and passion in ‘’ Ishqzaade”( such a tongue twister!) is still worth the 2-hour long watch. I caught it on a weekday at a late night multiplex show...and after ages and ages, I had tears streaming down my face when the lights came on. The ending came as no surprise.... we all know how Shakespeare concluded the classic. But it was Faisal’s deft treatment and Hemant Chaturvedi’s lyrical camerawork that made the climax so effective. Yes, the movie is an ode to violence. But seen in the context of how political games are still played in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh, where guns and gore are more eloquent than words and negotiations, the doomed love story of Parma and Zoya becomes that much more poignant.Especially since the dynamics of old enmities are clearly established right at the start of the narrative.Arjun Kapoor makes an impressive debut as the reckless , brash grandson of the Hindu MLA (superbly played by Anil Rastogi).While Parineeti Chopra as Zoya, the firebrand daughter of the Muslim MLA (and Rastogi’s arch riva)l looks ready to carve out a major chunk from Vidya Balan’s acting pie and positioning. Here’s a spunky actress with guts, talent and dollops of oomph. Hers is perhaps the toughest role in this raw, brutal story. But it also happens to be the best written one – fully fleshed out and minus any false notes. I particularly liked the unexpected chemistry laboratory scene that builds up into a bloody shoot out. Not only was it clever(underlining the ‘’çhemistry’’ between the reconciled lovers) , but it was also touchingly romantic, tender and very moving because of its implicit innocence.
Faisal knows his turf well. The language is rough, coarse and bawdy.Generously giving the peachy Gauhar two sizzling item songs AND dialogues in a couple of key scenes is also an inspired move. ” Chhokra Jawaa’’ is danced with vigour and overt virility by Arjun, while ” Pareshan” shows music man Amit Trivedi at his raunchy best.What movies like Íshqzaade’are doing is interesting. Backed by big houses ( this is a Yashraj film with Aditya Chopra as producer), they are throwing up new talent and fresh faces, thereby injecting a much needed booster shot into the stale, tired rubbishy Bollywood formula. Keeping budgets realistic, giving breaks to newcomers and not skimping on production values, will inevitably lead to new dynamics and better movies. Film makers who understand this hungry, demanding market and go boldly into fresh territories, will succeed on the strength of their originality and talent. Content is definitely king... at least in this movie. And perhaps it is time to get down on our knees and thank the Bard for providing inspiration to so many.
Enough mileage has been derived from actors exposing their buns. When John Abraham lowered his neon green trunks for ‘Dostana’’ and became an overnight Gay icon, it marked a first. Poor Tusshar Kapoor may just end up becoming the butt end of mean jokes. Keep those trunks on, Tusshar. Never mind, for once, what sis Ekta orders!
About the Wankhede episode involving SRK.... I said what I had to on Arnab Goswami's show earlier this evening. It was a pretty fiery debate... I'm sure you can catch it on the Times Now website, if you are interested.