Ishqiya was fun. Vidya Balan had the men by their balls and she ran the show. It was a fresh new take on the femme fatale which brought us a sexual being in place of the usual demure one, a woman who knew how to use her body and her charm to her advantage. Oh, it also gave us Babban (Arshad Warsi) and Khalu (Naseerussin Shah).
Dedh Ishqiya ups the game a bit. Instead of one, Abhishek Chaubey gives us two stunning women to deal with - Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit) and Munira (Huma Qureshi) and this is where Dedh Ishqiya starts taking it away from Ishqiya. But then you cannot entirely disregard the torchbearers can you?
Very honestly, I thought the movie would be a damp squib. And the fact that I was gently proved wrong with delectable layers and layers of Urdu pleasantries made Dedh Ishqiya a sheer pleasure.
The Begum of Mahmudabad, Begum Para, had promised her husband on his death bed that she would marry again, but she would only marry a poet. Thus following his death, a swayamvar-cum-mushaira is organised to allow the stunning Begum to choose her consort.
Enter Iftikhar (read Khalu) as a poet with Babban hot in pursuit. Their old nemesis Mushtaq bhai sends Babban after Khalu who stole a precious necklace and disappeared only to appear as a fake Nawab in Mahmudabad to woo Begum Para. Then there is Jaan Mohammad (Vijay Raaz), the local strongman and MLA who has had his eyes set on the Begum for years.
Stage set. Let the revelries begin. Babban and Khalu charm their way through the movie. The former with is crass demeanor and the latter with his satin smooth charm. They think they have the women - but well then!
Dedh Ishqiya is as much about Khalu and Babban as it is not. And this is because you cannot take your eyes away from Madhuri. Thank god she didn’t call it quits after Aja Nachle! She lights up the screen and overshadows the much younger and decently pretty Huma Qureshi by light years. She is a Begum, the dilapidated haveli not withstanding!
The plot of Dedh Ishqiya unfolds graciously. You will smirk at Khalu and Babban, root for their shenanigans as Vishal Bharadwaj weaves in poetry and wicked dialogues with excellent flair. The movie is replete with quotable quotes - my favourite being - ‘Jhooth kahaan bola? Bass sach nahin bataya’.
And all the while that the men plot and connive, the women put their own plans in place with their gentle hands. Ironically. And the men of course don’t know till it’s too late.
The climax is quite interesting, and we shall not give it away here. Perhaps they fall in love with the men, perhaps they don’t. Watch it to find out.
But besides just finding out how the story works out - watch Dedh Ishqiya for Madhuri. She’s enough to make you sit through the film just by herself. The two stars out of the four are for her, the other two goes to the rest.
Chaubey does one thing brilliantly, he creates scenes that will stay with you long after the movie is over. Begum Para scratching out her face from old photographs is one of them. Her dance is of course another. And Munira gearing up to cry before she can run to Jaan Mohammed is brilliant.
There are some great songs to go with it all and each and every actor is subtle, controlled and very good in their own roles. There are no unnecessary excesses of dialogues and characters and not once does the actor become bigger than the role he/she plays. The restraint is commendable.
I should henceforth walk into every movie with zero expectations and hope that they all end up being just as delightful.