Friday, May 11, 2012


Love And Guns

A little girl in a small North Indian town of Almor is seen spewing rage at a group of boys following her school rickshaw.  This one grows up to the sharp-tongued, political aspirant, who trades her jhumkas for a pistol—a very interesting character, who drives this film forward.

Like Habib Faisal’s Do Dooni CharIshaqzaade is set in ‘real’ India, ugly, dirty, lawless (cops are conspicuous by their absence), not prettified in any way.  In this macho world,  young men take pride in being uncouth, academic duffers and believe that violence against the weak is a way of life.

Faisal casts Parineeti Chopra as his Uttar Pradesh Juliet/ Zoya and Arjun Kapoor as Romeo/Parma, and fills the rest of the cast with unknowns who look like they have been picked up off the streets of Almor.  Two families of political rivals—the Chauhans and Qureshis-- driven further apart by their religions, have carved up the town between them.

Patriarchs of both clans, have gun-toting men on call, and violence is unleashed on minor matters as getting extra diesel to light up a party, or who will get the prized nautch girl Chand (Gauhar Khan) to dance at his function.

Pampered, tomboyish Zoya who wants to be an MLA, gets into verbal spats with Parma.  But the hatred soon turns to love.  The story diverts from the Romeo and Juliet plot, and at intermission time, is a shocking twist.   When Parma and Zoya finally run away, and have a tranquil few days at Chand’s kotha; in the outside world, love has no value.

After the high energy first half, the second half slows down in pace, and then moves towards an expected climax.  Faisal’s script has some powerful scenes—in a world where women have no value or power,  Parma’s widowed mother (Natasha Rastogi) wields influence on her wayward son, and pushes him into doing the right thing. That women of the kotha are independent enough to defy the male order is an ironical comment on that society flaunting its mardangi.

The film was meant to launch Arjun Kapoor, and he does well to choose a film that uses his talent rather than his looks, but Ishaqzaade totally belongs to Parineeti Chopra, who can project fire and vulnerability at the same time, using her eyes, voice and body language to create a remarkable Zoya. Gauhar Khan is charming as the hooker with a heart. 

Ishaqzaade is not entertaining in the light way audiences go for, but the narration makes you care for the two youngsters who want to escape the savagery around them, and hope love will be the solution. Studded with some good songs, the film is worth a look.


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