I now seem to have developed a new genre of movies — I call them Traffic Movies. These are the ones that you watch, waiting for Mumbai traffic to slowly dilute, allowing a three-lane road to thin down from a six-lane standstill.
But Ishqiya caused some dilemma.
Here’s why I thought I was better off in the theatre.
I liked the execution, in general. The cinematography, the dialogues, the performances are generally above average. Naseeruddin Shah is his usual self, he is in character, but nothing explosive or different. Arshad Warsi seems to be in some kind of a transition phase, nearly graduating from the usual comic sidekick roles to being a true actor. But Vidya Balan came as a good surprise, where she isn’t necessarily appearing as if for a toothpaste ad. She has done more than smile, and she has done it better than before.
The story itself, is something that leaves you wondering if the movie was good or not. The story has a sense of incompleteness about it, but is very difficult to point out how. For one, the story doesn’t patronise – most Indian movies are used to that – they have to explicitly tell the entire bloody story and each nuance therein. This aspect, relevant more-so, because they have taken the story from the known stereotypes of where movie stories are set, to hitherto unknown locations. How many films we know, were set in Gorakhpur? The story is not apologetic of taking you away from the stereotypes that you know. Secondly, the story chooses to stay satisfyingly raw, which seems to me, is a Vishal Bhardwaj signature. Maqbool (2003), Omkara (2006), Kaminey (2009), e.g. I wonder, however, if that can be applied in the true sense, since it has been directed by Abhishek Chaubey. But, then, he does belong to that team.
The cinematography itself is well-done and doesn’t, by itself, give scope for any complaints. I felt however that the photographic beauty that has been so well-captured, was disconnected, often with the story. It is almost as if it offers breaks from the story, to help you catch up. At times, I felt, Mohana Krishna was at risk of becoming Santosh Sivan like in Before the Rains (2007). I am not particularly impressed with the new “saturation-contrast” style of photography that many new movies have. Kaminey, was a welcome change.
And now, here’s why I thought I was, perhaps, better off in the traffic.
I just couldn’t relate to the entire presentation. There was something frequently jarring in the presentation that did not allow me to get sucked in the presentation. And this is where the lack of my review skills kick in — I am unable to say what those were. Also, given that I have never been to Gorakhpur and have no idea how it looks like, I felt that it was shot in the interiors of Maharashtra. This proves either of two things: that there is landscape similarity in the country or that quite a bit of the outdoor shooting was indeed done around here.
Verdict? Watch it when you can. Avoid comparing it to the presentation and finesse of Omkara, however. I think I made that mistake.