Cast: Madhuri Dixit, Naseerudin Shah, Huma Qureshi, Arshad Warsi, Vijay Raaz
Direction: Abhishek Chaubey
Abhishek Chaubey renders a delectable mystery. He seems to have mastered the art of perfectly executing thrillers laced with dark humour.
I love the way ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ seems to build-up like a romantic story – Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit), a widow, is looking for a suitor to fulfill her dead husband’s last wish. Nawabs from different parts of the country have assembled to display their prowess, especially to brandish their eloquence as poets. You realize that there is some underlining tension to the prolonged romantic idling but Chaubey never falters on the pace, taking his time to peel the layers and reveal the true nature of his female characters.
Chaubey’s male characters are uncomplicated, their motives crystal clear, almost helpless in their naiveté. Blinded by love or the notion of it, they repeatedly succumb to manipulation even when they are convinced that they are the ones who are calling the shots. The women appear vulnerable and distressed but they are completely focused on their objective, never letting emotion blur their goal.
The mise-en-scène completely corresponds with the characters in the film – a decadent mansion houses the once beautiful proprietress – way past her prime but her legendary charm has managed to lure aging grooms, who only have their declining aristocracy to boast of.
‘Dedh Ishqiya’ has some crackling portrayals – the supporting cast helmed by Vijay Raaz and Manoj Pahwa deliver riveting performances. Raaz is brilliant as Jaan Muhammad, he has power and money but is desperate to find a place in the royalty that seems to continuously elude him.
Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) share an easy camaraderie, abusive and endearing at times. Their repartees make for the most entertaining part of the film.
Muniya (Huma Qureshi) is a feisty character – bold, determined and manipulative. Hats off to Huma for holding her own in a film that has so such senior actors.
Madhuri brings grace and elegance to her portrayal but if we were to compare her with Vidya Balan in ‘Ishqiya’, the latter emerges a clear winner. The ruthlessness that Vidya is capable of is just not becoming of Madhuri.
What actually adds edge to ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ is the writing – it is amazing how the crassness of the dialogue works for the film. You can’t help but suppress a smile during Muniya’s raw explanation of how love and sex are completely separate things.
Abhishek Chaubey’s ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ is entertaining, intriguing and humourous. He sure knows how to tell a gripping story peppered with generous doses of wit.
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