Millennium Post

Shakespeare in UP

It's about a land where bullets fly more than words and love happens as brutally as deft political maneuvers do. Ishaqzaade begins ‘beautifully’ with the two protagonists abusing the high heavens out of each other as children. The expletives range between chipkali and suar. All’s fair in ‘Almora Canvent’ till the children Zoya and Parma grow up. Zoya is the hot-headed girl who trades her gold earrings for a gun and Parma, the rugged thug, who has no qualms about setting a warehouse on fire after he has grabbed his share of diesel. Rival political families and rival religions - no love lost there.

While odds are stacked against the two - with the smooth inevitability of Bollywood - the two fall in love. And the audience is more than willing to believe that love can conquer the political hatred and the bullets. One could not be more mistaken. Parma’s one move turns the whole love story on its head and the rough landscape - which had moments ago been rosy goes back to being hostile.

Zoya’s father - the current MLA from the city loses the election to Parma’s grandfather and Zoya is out not only baying for political blood but fighting for heartbreak. She gets hold of the only chink in Parma’s armour - his mother. So amidst more bloodshed and dingy bylanes, the lovers reunite in a brothel and this time they need to outrun their families, in politics blood does not run thicker than water.

Ishaqzaade is Bollywood’s modern day Romeo and Juliet, but Habib Faisal seems to have taken a page out of Vishal Bharadwaj’s Shakespearean obsession. And the local Romeo and Juliet do full justice to their roles. Parineeti is very good as Zoya – she fits in effortlessly. Her energy and her ease make her a delight to watch. Arjun Kapoor is convincing as Parma. In fact, so much so that for a second one would want to step in and place a well meaning slap on his thug persona. You will buy the character - the rustic charm, the rough stubble and then the mamma’s boy charm. Gauhar Khan as Chand Baby - the quintessential dance girl/prostitute with a heart of gold who protects the lovers while nursing a soft spot for Parma - is quite impressive.

Arjun Kapoor has a lot of Yuva’s Abhishek Bachchan in him. Only younger and more suave. Here’s keeping the fingers crossed that the Kapoor boy does not make stupid career moves like Abhishek did. A movie like Ishaqzaade can make his career if he plays the next game right.

Ishaqzaade is a decent watch. Predictable, ever so slightly, but there are no dull moments, no unnecessary scenes. The songs are very good. Full marks to Amit Trivedi for setting the mood right. Watch it over the weekend.
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