I dedicate this review to the evergreen, ageless diva Madhuri Dixit who is going to complete 51 years of age today (she was born on 15.05.1967).
I had watched Dedh Ishquiya (2014) during my trip to Bikaner (Rajasthan) in the Cinemagic theater on 22.01.2014 and the movie kept me hooked for 148 minutes. After coming out of the theater, I was feeling so much intoxicated by the movie just seen that I did not catch an auto-rickshaw to reach the place of my stay (a marriage venue) and instead, preferred to walk while revisiting the movie in my mind. And believe me, it kept on haunting me for long.Dedh Ishqiya is a sequel of Ishqiya (2010). However since I have not seen the prequel, I won’t refer to it. All the same, this sequel business is akin to the Munna Bhai Series of Rajkumar Hirani in which only the principal characters are carried over in the sequel and not the story which is an altogether different one, having nothing to do with the story of the prequel. The way only the characters of Munna Bhai and Circuit are carried over from Munna Bhai MBBS (2003) to Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006) and nothing else, here only the characters of Khalujaan and Babban are carried over from Ishqiya to Dedh Ishqiya.Khalujaan (Nasiruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) are petty thugs who normally work for an underworld don but carry out thefts and thuggery as freelancers also. They are very much fond of each other but that fondness does not stop them from double-crossing each other for vested interests.
Destiny lands this thug-duo at Mahmoodabaad which is an erstwhile princely state somewhere in UP. Khalujaan reaches there first and comes across the widow queen of Mahmoodabaad – Begum Paara (Madhuri Dixit) who has arranged a contest of Shaayari (Urdu poetry) and declared that whosoever wins the contest, will be her husband and consequentially the king (of academic importance only in democratic India) of Mahmoodabaad. Despite his advanced years, Khalujaan falls for the charms of Begum Paara (she is no longer a young lady as well) and gets close to her by his proficiency in Shaayari.
The contest goes on for a few days and very shortly, Khalujaan comes to know that his principal competitor for the hand of Begum Paara is Jaan Mohammad (Vijay Raaz) who poses as a Nawaab (erstwhile prince) but is actually a gangster. Shortly, Babban also joins Khalujaan at Mahmoodabaad and he falls for the charms of Begum Paara’s bonne Muniya (Huma Qureshi) who, in the true sense, is Begum Paara’s confidante and right hand. Khalujaan keeps on dipping deep and deep into the love of Begum Paara only to suffer a jolt of 440 volts of electricity when Begum Paara announces the result of the Shaayari contest and the name of the winner, i.e., her would-be husband.
The subsequent events tell Khalujaan that the matter is not what it appears to be at its surface. The real story has been behind the curtain and thus hidden from his eyes but not the eyes of Babban. Now a disillusioned Khalujaan comes to understand how an emotional fool he has been and how he has been used for a long and intricate scheme for the sake of money. The story swinging between crime, money and sentiments reaches its conclusion after a few reels which are studded with action, thrill and surprises.The specialty or the USP of Dedh Ishqiya is neither the suspense, nor the thrill. It’s soaking the complete narrative in Muslim Adab (etiquette) and Tehzeeb (culture) which Lucknow is still known for (due to history, the contemporary reality may be different).
Once Khalujaan reaches Mahmoodabaad after a few initial reels, the complete narrative gets soaked in Urdu language with a high level of Shaayari and the royal Muslim culture of the past. Pure Urdu has been spoken by the characters and the meaning of several dialogue is difficult to understand for those who are not well-versed with this beautiful and delicate language. However the prudent filmmaker has displayed English sub-titles in every scene for helping the audience in this regard. And it’s a treat to go through all that.
The script has been written with utmost brilliance. The initial heist scene in a jeweler’s shop must have been an inspired one because a similar episode is there in Ved Prakash Sharma’s Hindi novel – Naseeb Mera Dushman also (which was first published more than three decades back).However scene after scene, the drama grips the viewer like anything. You just keep on watching, holding your breath. The drama is slow in the first half but slow pace only was required according to the mood of the movie. And that slow pace only makes the spectator enjoy the things running on the screen just like the intermittent sips of a high quality drink.
The story moves fast in the second half and the final few reels are studded with twists in the narrative, action, thrill and a little bit of suspense regarding the conclusion of the story. I feel that the climax should not have been that long and a shorter sequence would have served the entertainment purpose of the movie better.All the same, it’s to be admitted that the director (Abhishek Chaubey) has directed the movie in a highly admirable manner. The curiosity of the audience is maintained till the very end. The movie does not bore at any place. It’s entertaining right from the word ‘go’ to the final shot. Hypnotizing must be the most appropriate word to describe the impact of the movie on the audience.
The dialogues spoken in literary Urdu, are the highlight of the movie and a grand treat for the lovers of Urdu language and literature.
The art director has done an outstanding job by creating the aura of the Muslim culture which is the essence of this movie. The complete milieu that the spectator witnesses is simply heart-conquering.
All the action and thrill sequences have been shot and presented very well. Editing is excellent despite the slow pace of the movie in the pre-interval portion. Background score is perfect.
Producer Vishal Bhardwaj has composed soul-soothing music for the great lyrics of Gulzaar. All the songs are just very very good. Raahat Fateh Ali Khan, Rekha Bhardwaj, Jazim Sharma, Master Saleem, Shahid Maliya, Jamal Akbar etc. have sung the songs in a class manner. The music perfectly suits the aura of the movie.
Nasiruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi have delivered towering performances as the stock characters of this series (which should continue in future also). Especially more than 62 years old Nasiruddin Shah deserves high accolades for delivering a highly romantic performance. The scene in which he repetitively makes Madhuri utter his real name, i.e. Iftekhar is one of the most romantic scenes and the only romantic scene between lovers of advanced age ever seen in Bollywood movies.Madhuri Dixit is in her late forties in this movie but still appears extremely beautiful. She has delivered a brilliant performance and her dance on the voice of Birju Maharaj (song – Jagaave Saari Raina) is enchanting. Huma Qureshi, Vijay Raaz, Manoj Pahwa etc. have also delivered extra-ordinary performances.
While watching the movie, gradually I forgot that I was in theater and a feeling had enveloped me as if I were in Mahmoodabaad and an eye-witness to what was happening to and being done by the characters of the story. If this movie is to be given the metaphor of an old wine, then the kick that it rendered to me was very strong and highly enjoyable. Even after so many years of watching it, the characters, the scenes, the dialogue and the milieu of Dedh Ishqiya haunt me time and again.Don’t know why it’s been titled as Dedh Ishqiya, perhaps to maintain a continuity with its prequel, i.e., Ishqiya. Dedh means one and a half, and I am sure that Dedh Ishqiya is at least one and a half times more entertaining than its much acclaimed and commercially successful prequel.
I strongly recommend this highly entertaining movie to all those who are fond of taut thrillers as well as those who like movies portraying Muslim Adab and Tehzeeb of the bygone era.
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