Shemaroo Entertainment and Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures’ Dedh Ishqiya (UA) is the sequel of Ishqiya. Khalu (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) continue to be con men. Mushtaq (Salman Shahid), the don whom the two work for, is livid because Khalu has run away with an expensive gold necklace the two have just stolen from a jewellery store. Even Babban is unaware of Khalu’s whereabouts but promises to track him down.
The film traces the love affair of Khalu and Babban with Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit-Nene) and her companion, Muniya (Huma Qureshi) respectively. Begum Para, separated from her first husband who was gay, wants to marry a genius poet, and Khalu pretends to be one, to win her heart. Competing with Khalu is Jaan Muhammad (Vijay Raaz) who also is not a poet but memorises the poems written by Noor Mohammad Italvi (Manoj Pahwa) whom he has held captive. Meanwhile, Babban woos Muniya.
As the drama progresses, Muniya is shown to be keen on having Begum Para kidnapped. She first asks Qais (Midhat Khan) to execute the kidnapping but Qais is jailed before the job can be done. Muniya then turns to Babban for help. Babban carries out the kidnapping on the day Begum Para announces – much to Khalu’s dismay – that she would marry Jaan Muhammad.
What happens thereafter? Why is Muniya keen to get Begum Para kidnapped? Does Jaan Muhammad secure his to-be-wife, Begum Para’s freedom from the kidnappers? Does he have to pay ransom money or is it something else? What do Khalu and Babban get in the end? Does Begum Para marry Jaan Muhammad or Khalu? Does Muniya marry Babban? Does Mushtaq catch Khalu and Babban?
Darab Farooqui’s story has some interesting portions but in totality, the story looks silly. The overall impact of the drama is not good. In particular, the audience gets the feeling of being cheated in the climax because Begum Para does not achieve what she sets out to get in the first place (not being revealed here as that is the suspense). What Begum Para accomplishes in the end, it emerges, could have been accomplished without the round-and-about drama. Therefore, Darab Farooqui’s story doesn’t leave the audience satisfied. Vishal Bhardwaj and Abhishek Chaubey have penned a screenplay which moves at a leisurely pace and which is confusing at times as it takes the audience in flashback. However, there are some very interesting sequences too, which will be enjoyed by the viewers. The scenes between Khalu and Babban, in particular, are interesting as well as entertaining. Similarly, the scenes of Jaan Muhammad evoke laughter. Having said that, it must be added that the entire drama looks very theatrical and implausible. Quite early on, the audience gets the feeling that each character is making an ass out of the other/s but yet, the characters being taken for a ride themselves seem to be oblivious to this fact. That robs the film of its fun element even though individual scenes do evoke laughter. This and the climax which actually turns out to be the anti-climax, are the film’s biggest undoing. Also, when the real drama unfolds in the second half, the audience gets the feeling that it is too far-fetched and farcical. Vishal Bhardwaj’s dialogues are authentic but the use of chaste Urdu will greatly limit the film’s appeal.
Naseeruddin Shah plays Khalu with aplomb. He is fantastic as the con man and his comedy is extraordinary. Madhuri Dixit-Nene looks like a million bucks and acts with effortless ease. Her costumes and jewellery will be loved by the womenfolk. Arshad Warsi is brilliant in the role of Babban. He plays to the gallery and evokes laughter at several places. Huma Qureshi stands her own and gives a restrained performance. Vijay Raaz does a splendid job and provides quite a few light moments. Manoj Pahwa makes his presence felt. Salman Shahid deserves special mention in a special appearance as Mushtaq. Midhat Khan does a fair job as Qais. Bhakti Deshpande (as young Begum Para), Fareed Ahmed (as Rafiq), Ravi Gossain (as Liyaqat), John Vijay (as the police officer) and the others lend the desired support.
Abhishek Chaubey’s direction is very nice but would appeal to the classes only. As a writer and director, he should’ve ensured a faster paced drama and more comprehensible dialogues. Vishal Bhardwaj’s music is good but too class-appealing. Since Ishqiya had two hit songs (‘Dil toh bachcha hai ji’ and ‘Ibn batoota’) and because the film is its sequel, comparisons are inevitable. The songs are definitely not as good as the songs of Ishqiya. They are melodious but the music holds limited appeal for youngsters and the masses. Gulzar’s lyrics are also very class-appealing although they are rich. Dr. Bashir Badr’s poems are entertaining. Pt. Birju Maharaj’s choreography in the ‘Jagaave saari raina’ song and Remo D’souza’s choreography in the ‘Humri atariya’ song are both eye-pleasing. Clinton Cerejo’s background music is effective. Setu’s camerawork is lovely. Pradyumna Kumar Swain’s action and stunts are alright. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s sets are realistic. A. Sreekar Prasad’s editing is quite sharp.
On the whole, Dedh Ishqiya is a dull fare and will not find favour with the youth. Classes may like the film but that will be a very small section of the audience. Its high-flown Urdu dialogues are a dampener. It will end up entailing heavy losses to all concerned.