Dedh Ishqiya (2014): Indian filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey's second chapter in "Babban-Khalujan" saga

A tribute to the lifestyles of the Nawabs of Awadh

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Dedh Ishqiya, Movie Poster, Directed by Abhishek Chaubey
Dedh Ishqiya (2014) By Abhishek Chaubey
Our Rating: 8.0
IMDb Ratings: 8.3
Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
CastNaseeruddin Shah, Madhuri Dixit, Arshad Warsi
Country: India
Runtime: 152 min

Summary: Dedh Ishqiya marks the second chapter in Babban-Khalujan saga with Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi reprising their roles; the film also marks Madhuri Dixit's comeback to the Hindi film industry.

Dedh Ishqiya, directed and co-written by Abhishek Chaubey, is the much-awaited sequel to Ishqiya—the 2010 Hindi feature film which had introduced us to two of the most delightful caricatures penned down in recent times, as far as Hindi cinema is concerned, that of the criminal vagabonds, Ifthekhar alias “Khalujan” (played by Naseeruddin Shah) and Razzaakh Hussain alias “Babban” (played by Arshad Warsi). What really makes the uncle-nephew duo tick is the camaraderie they share. Both Khalujan and Babban come across as shrewd and deceitful campaigners when it comes to their day-to-day shady affairs and that’s what keeps the two of them alive, but when pitted against beautiful women they are at their most vulnerable as their chivalry and quixotic mannerisms tend to get the better of them, invariably trapping them in bizarre situations and exposing them to grave danger.

Naseeruddin Shah as "Khalujaan" and Madhuri Dixit as "Begum Para" in Dedh Ishqiya, Directed by Abhishek Chaubey
Naseeruddin Shah as "Khalujaan" and Madhuri Dixit as "Begum Para"
In Dedh Ishqiya the scenario more or less remains the same, if only a wee bit more complex than it had been during their last escapade. Khalujan and Babban continue to go about their usual business while somehow managing to stay out of the clutches of their evil boss Mushtaq (delightfully played by Pakistani actor Salman Shahid... there is a brilliant scene in which his character cheekily compares his relation with the uncle-nephew duo to the delicate relationship that the Batman and Joker share) despite all his efforts to bury the duo alive. Khalujan and Babban are forced to part ways when a con job goes awry. Babban’s lust takes him to a brothel where he unexpectedly comes to learn about Khalujan’s whereabouts. To his dismay, Khalujan, now disguised as the Nawab of Chandpur, is all set to participate in the annual poetry competition organized by Begum Para (played by Madhuri Dixit),  the beautiful widow of Nawab of Mahmudabad, in the hope of wooing her. When Babban arrives on the scene and finally confronts Khalujan, he gets infatuated with Begum Para’s sexy aide and confidant Munniya (played by Huma Qureshi). But, the path of love has never been an easy one to tread. And, once again, Khalujan and Babban must learn it the hard way.

Huma Qureshi as "Munniya" and Arshad Warsi as "Babban" in Dedh Ishqiya, Directed by Abhishek Chaubey
Huma Qureshi and Arshad Warsi in Dedh Ishqiya
Set in the sumptuous backdrop of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the cradle of India’s Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (a euphemism referring to culture of India, which is regarded as a fusion of Hindu and Muslim elements), Dedh Ishqiya serves as a great tribute to the now extinct uber-luxurious lifestyles of the Nawabs of Awadh. Without actually being a period film, Dedh Ishqiya brings back great memories of the grandeur of a bygone era, an epoch underlined by the Muslim elite upper class’ deep-seated love for ghazals, qawwalis, Urdu poetry, and various classical music and dance forms. In this regard, the movie’s attention to detail to immaculate: be it costume, dialogue, or set design. Among other things, Dedh Ishqiya beautifully explores the “Seven Stages of Love” viz. Dilkashi (attraction), Uns (attachment), Mohabbat (love), Akidat (trust), Ibadat (worship), Junoon (madness) followed by Maut (death).

Vijay Raaz as hoodlum, love obsessed MLA Jaan Mohammad in Dedh Ishqiya, Directed by Abhishek Chaubey
Vijay Raaz as Jaan Mohammad in Dedh Ishqiya
Abhishek Chaubey needs to be congratulated for his exquisite mise-en-scène that greatly adds to the movie’s verisimilitude. The end product, however, seems to carry a strong sense of Vishal Bharadwaj’s signature style; this critic remains quite interested in finding out the extent of his involvement (apart from what he is credited for) in shaping it up. Dedh Ishqiya’s dialogue, rife with vernacular expletives, packs a powerful punch. The movie’s cinematography, editing and music are all topnotch. Chaubey also deserves credit for eliciting great performances from his star-studded cast. Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi are brilliant as ever. While Shah plays his part delicately and with great subtlety, Warsi complements the veteran actor really well, never putting a foot wrong. Madhuri Dixit makes a strong comeback and is delightful to watch. Huma Qureshi impresses playing a rather tricky part. The big surprise, however, comes from Vijay Raaz who plays the part of an obsessed and dangerous lover with remarkable brilliance.

Arshad Warsi as "Babban" and Naseeruddin Shah as "Khalujan" in Dedh Ishqiya, Directed by Abhishek Chaubey
A Still from Abhishek Chaubey's Dedh Ishqiya
Overall, Dedh Ishqiya serves as a much-needed breath of fresh air that comes at a time when commercial Hindi cinema seems be going through a phase of stagnation with respect to creativity. The films are cashing in on the box office but do not seem to be offering enough as far as the content is concerned. As a multifaceted work of cinema, Dedh Ishqiya proves to be a great respite. Made in the vein of Hindi gangster films like Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) and Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster (2011), Dedh Ishqiya effortlessly transcends genres. The movie’s impeccable comic timing serves as a great means to punctuate tension as and when it builds up. The strong undercurrent of dark humor adds a whole new dimension to the movie. Dedh Ishqiya is entertainment galore for a casual viewer, and, at the same time, it offers enough food for thought for an intelligent viewer. This critic just cannot stop wondering what lies in store in the next chapter(s) of "Babban-Khalujan" saga. Highly recommended!

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  1. Maniparna Sengupta MajumderJanuary 12, 2014 at 2:38 AM

    I was thinking whether watching this movie would worth my time. Your review helped to make a positive decision.. thank you.. :-)

  2. Well, I am glad you have made up your mind to watch it... I am sure you won't be disappointed!!! :-)

  3. Brilliant review. I am about to write a review myself and it is more or less the same :) I may watch it again !

  4. Glad you liked it... please do share the link once your review is up.

  5. Mine is this
    :) TIA

  6. I loved Ishqiya and when I heard about this movie, I was sure I would watch it. Now your review is surely making me book the tickets.

  7. I am certain you wouldn't be disappointed!!! :-)


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