One of the biggest formulas being applied over and over again in cinema over the last few years is that of converting a hit film into a franchise by dishing out sequels one after the other only to cash in on the success of the first. Now whether those sequels have anything to do with the first one or are even closely as good as the original is a redundant query. Some of the cerebral filmmakers too have fallen into the money spinning trap so it's no surprise that you see producer Vishal Bhardwaj too doling out the sequel to his 2010 superhit Ishqiya. But does his sequel live upto the standards? Let's find out.
Partners in crime, Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) are back to their silly misadventures. The setting again is the badlands of North India although with a decadent feudal system.
Mahmudabad is the land of decrepit, crumbling Nawabs, each covering up for the bankruptcy with a sham of grandeur. Begam Para (Madhuri Dixit), an ageing widow of the late Nawab of Mahmudabad has a task at hand - to fulfil the last wish of her late husband that of re-marrying. A "Jalsa" is organised for all Nawabs, competitions held that of sher-mushairas, guns and ghazals. Enters Khalujaan under the garb of Nawaz of Chandpur followed by his Khadim Babban; the agenda - to ransack the wealth of Begam Para. Tables turn the moment Khalujaan lays eyes on Para and his heart flutters. He forgets the objective while trying to woo her only to know much later in the course, that Begam Para too, along with her aide Muniya (Huma Qureshi) has a plan up her sleeves.
The film scores ace on the laudable story of Darab Farooqui, painstakingly written screenplay of Abhishek Choubey and the saucy, witty and hilarious dialogues of Vishal Bhardwaj.
The story is extensive, there's ample back and forth, the characters are complex, each with a grey shade but it's Abhishek's master direction that doesn't leave any depiction rushed. He takes his time to establish the backdrop, that of the dying era of Nawabs. He interestingly captures their failing attempts of the few leftover Nawabs to latch on to the Nawabi royalty and its perks. He evolves his characters smartly as their real agenda blend brilliantly with the proceeding storyline.
It all goes very good in Dedh Ishqiya till the penultimate moment and the film goes awry from thereon. It's Vishal and his protege's fascination for Tarantino that reflects in the end there the screenplay goes completely berserk and there's mindless gun-totting and bloodshed. Also the later portions of the second half appear extremely stretched and could well be edited for a crisper screenplay.
Both Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi once again form the heart of the film. Their antics and banter make for an enjoyable watch. However, this time around it's Arshad who supersedes Naseeruddin Shah's performance.
Madhuri Dixit is luminates in her comeback film and is as graceful as ever. There are dance portions of the actress which are extremely delightful and beautifully shot. Huma on the other hand remains underutilized and hence, may be the only sore thumb in the list of actors.
Among the many character actors in the film, the one that outshines is Vijay Raaz. Not only does he get a meaty part to play but also the right director who taps his potential as an actor and extracts commendable display of acting prowess.
To sum it up, Dedh Ishqiya falls just a step short of being flawless and that's only because of the Tarantino-esq climax. But in the rest of the portions, the film, as promised, "Dedh" (One and a half) times the fun of the original.