Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra
Directed by Habib Faisal
Rating: ** 1/2
We’ve all seen love stories featuring inter-caste couples, ‘Bombay’ being one of the finest in that league. So we know exactly what to expect when ‘Ishaqzaade’ shows sparks of ending up like one. Basic elements in such films: cultural differences are brushed aside for a healthy tolerance if not acceptance of each other’s religious beliefs, fierce parental opposition leading to arms being pulled out of the holster and so on. But this film makes a very simple yet crucial point: the story doesn’t need to be radically different to throw you off your feet. It is the treatment and the finer nuances of presentation which qualify as laudable differentiators. For one- the filmic reality is done away with and how situations pan out are way more believable than in most films. So if they’re in love and you’re happy to see them like that doesn’t mean that the director will indulge in your candy floss fantasy. So hypothetically speaking, if the situation demands for them to be skinned alive, they would be and if it just so happens that they manage to work it out, then they will. And that is what keeps you at the edge of your seat, knowing that what you want may or may not happen. In the meanwhile, enjoy the show.
Set in a fictional small-town of Alnor, we’re introduced to two warring political families who’re perennially looking for an excuse to slice each other. The Chauhans and the Qureshis. Zoya (Parineeti Chopra) and Parama (Arjun Kapoor) belong to each of these camps. Zoya is a college student with aspirations of becoming an MP some day, just like her Papa-Aftab Qureshi. Parama is a rowdy Chauhan who’s mostly seen buffooning around unless he’s put to task by his politician grandpa- the senior-most Chauhan.
It’s obvious that Parama and Zoya despise each other to the extent of infinity. If you’ve heard the song- ‘I hate you like I love you’, you know that hate is after all an equally strong emotion as love. So it’s only a matter of time before Parama and Zoya tweak their intense feelings to brew positivity. What is also clear in a film like this is that it isn’t going to be simple ‘happily ever after’ and their declaration of love would make Alnor crumble (metaphorically speaking). And it does. A clever twist makes it a trickier plot as Zoya learns that her own parents who’ve always served her every whim are fierce and emotionally bankrupt when it comes her relationship with a Hindu boy. Where this relationship leads to- is the story of this film and saying anymore would actually be a spoiler.
The best scene in ‘Ishaqzaade’ is the one where Zoya comes home after planning to secretly get married to Parama the next day. While the sequence would seem unremarkable to most, the beautiful silence as she enters her home and passes each member of the house is magical. Everyone in her family greets her like they always do, they’re busy doing the things that they always do but Zoya’s inner guilt is beautifully captured as she tries to hold a poker face till she reaches her room where she reveals her glorious smile to the mirror. And it is her smile that mirrors her inner thoughts and feelings.
Parineeti Chopra’s million expressions make her an actress who has something to add to every scene. A touch of ‘Opps!’, a hint of ‘How dare you?’ and almost every emotion- subtle or otherwise has an equally justified expression. If this wasn’t Arjun Kapoor’s debut, it would be hard to tell if his performance can be deemed as memorable. But for a first film, he manages well with his goofy grins and would do well in ‘no nonsense’ characters. The supporting cast have little to do with the fate of the film as none of them seem to have enough screen space to be memorable. Gauhar Khan has two power-packed item numbers and quite a few scenes later in the film that elevates her from being an item girl to being an item girl cum supporting actress with a heart of gold. This could present a whole new career option for her or a career to begin with.
Amit Trivedi’s music is soul soothing and Ranjit Barrot’s background score keeps one focused and sets the mood for many scenes. The title song and ‘Pareshaan’ are the obvious winners from the track list. While the film is fairly tight, the edit could’ve been a little less lenient in the second half. Not saying that the film drags at any point or has parts where you’re compelled to check the time. But it could’ve spent a little less time in showing passage of time leading up to the climax. Habib Faisal’s attention to micro emotions and his ability to make those emotions appear seamlessly on his character’s faces is what wins it for this film. A little more and it could distract one from the scene, a little less and it wouldn’t be visible.
Don’t go to watch this film hoping to be blown away by the story or the script or the unexpected ‘kahani mein twist’. There is very little that you’ve not seen somewhere before. Go for this film to slip into the mood and become a reckless lover with little care for repercussions or consequences. Go to watch this film to become an ‘Ishaqzaade’.
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