Dedh Ishqiya is tricky and clever but little else.

A sequel is never a pleasant business. The expectations from the first film are very high, and the characters need to float away from the story to accommodate a new installment. All this happens and well in the new film from the Ishqiya franchise. But, to what end.

  

There is an immersion in the culture of bygone eras which is always nice to see, and although there are some interesting characters written into the movie which is hard to come by easily in Indian films, and although the language is music in itself throughout the movie, the movie eventually falls short of its first installment in many ways.

While the first one was a delicious slice of life movie, the second one aims at being a clever mystery. That the two main characters are jokers is told to us by the main villain who lisps, in a direct reference to the Batman franchise. The irreverence is obvious and unsubtle, and this sets the tone for the rest of the movie.  That everyone involved is self -conscious of making a part two version is brought forward to us in many scenes. Therefore we ourselves end up being conscious of watching a part two version a la Dhoom.

The narrative reminds one of Tarantino, his pulp fiction-esque sideways movement of a movie. Stylish gangsters and revengeful poets who land up with machine guns from a moving train, a Malayalee policeman in the center of northern India, makes us feel like we are watching a set of gags filled with quirky characters. Finally Ishqiya goes neither this way nor that. It tries to do many things instead of just saying the story.

    

The pathos of a grand old faded begum and her maid is lost in all the lushness of the scenery. The dialogues skim around the ridiculous to slap stick, loaded with innuendos. The first half almost feels like a peep show into Indian sexuality, a little uncomfortable, a little self-conscious and mostly awkward. A terrible waste considering the effortlessness displayed in the first Ishqiya.

Madhuri shows her ineptness in working in a non-commercial format of which Vidya Balan is the reigning queen. She looks a little lost with the kind of acting required in the movie. A dhak dhak girl pushed into being a begum. Huma Qureshi does a good job but this moo phat heroine routine is frankly getting a bit boring. Arshad Warsi is good, but he gets these insane lines this time to deliver. A lesser actor would have bungled it up. Naseeruddin Shah is all pervasive, and in some ways this movie is more about his character than anyone else’s, but the writing lets him down quite fantastically. The theme of the two clowns is made a bit too obvious, and there is none of the subtlety that was there with the original.

    

The writing is entirely lack luster, un-original and lacks an honesty that was there in the first movie. This was no better than a Dhoom 3. A lush mess of story, story-telling, writing and intentions. This one was a dud.  Have to mention Vijay Raaz though, he shone!

     

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