Dedh Ishqiya? What was Abhishek Chaubey thinking while coining the title of this movie? Was he hinting at the rating of this movie even before it hit the screens? Well, unaware of his intentions, the title sure does flatter the standard of this movie. If not for stalwarts like Madhuri Dixit, Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi gracing the screen, this movie would not even have had crossed the “dedh” mark. Set in the shady locales of Muhammadabad (somewhere in Uttar Pradesh..?), lives the pride of Muhammadabad- Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit-Nene).Knocked down by reality, what we see is a lonely Begum, widowed, lost out on life and lives like a ghost in the haunted palace which once belonged to her and the late Nawab of Muhammadabad. Muniya (Huma Qureshi) - caters for the needs of Begum and takes care of her. Her relationship with Begum Para is rather confusing. (Her best friend/soul mate/ we don’t really know what Vishal Bharadwaj is hinting at..?) On the other side of Muhammadabad, live two thieves named Babban (Arshad Warsi) and his uncle “Khalujan” aka Ifthekar (Naseeruddin Shah) who make their living by committing petty crimes.. The first half of this movie is devoted to a competition which Begum Para holds to choose a husband (The late Nawab wanted the Begum to remarry after his death but, only to a poet) - the best poet wins the bride. Somehow Ifthekaar lands up as one of the prospective grooms and then what follows is a rib tickling saga of love, lust, deceit and friendship! Naseeruddin Shah introduces us to the seven stages of love: “dilkashi”, “uns”, “mohobbat”, “akidat”, “ibadat”, “junoon” and….”Chu****”. Sounds like a documented PhD in subject of “love”, doesn’t it? The concept of this movie has an uncanny resemblance with the reality show “Rakhi ka swayamwar” where in the contestants have to participate in various competitions and the one who manages to get an “all clear”, is then chosen as a suitable groom for Ms. Rakhi Sawant. What a cheesy concept I must say- the same idea modelled and polished with a classy touch of antiquity. Guess, Abhishek Chaubey and Vishal Bharadwaj realized that the story penned by Daraab Farooqui was too feeble to withstand the blows of BO and hence, opted for an extravagant casting just to save this movie from collapsing miserably. Usually stories are written keeping the casting in mind, here it was the contrary! Which proved to be an erroneous blunder because the storyline failed to sync with the breathtaking theater grandeur of Madhuri Dixit, the gibberish humor of Arshad Warsi and the intensity of Naseeruddin Shah. I am pretty sure Arshad Warsi shall always be remembered as “Cirkit” of "Munnai Bhai" and not “Babban” of "Dedh Ishqiya". A good execution of role by Madhuri Dixit -Nene! The Begum nuances do suit her pretty well. An impressive comeback- well played! Arshad Warsi, gifted with the art of slapstick comedy manages to tickle our funny bone even in the darkest situations, including a stand-off in which many guns are pointed at many heads. Naseeruddin Shah, a souvenir of the Indian theatre is just as appealing as he was in the prequel “Ishqiya”. Huma Qureshi – surprisingly ignites the screen with her rowdy charm thus boosting the momentum of this unusually mellowed down movie. The whole storyline looked like it was weaved from the strands of superficiality. Also, it appeared that Vishal Bharadwaj had no budget left to provide adequate lighting..so I recommend you get a torch or
something before entering the hall..because you actually start wondering if something is wrong with your eyes. Nevertheless, a onetime watch for die-hard fans of Mrs. Nene. Also, the true artistic essence of this movie shall surely be savored by the people who appreciate movies of this kind or genre. Sorry to quip in, but just one small advice if you are going to watch this movie- be sure to carry a Hindi-Urdu dictionary along with the torch of course!