Review 'Ishaqzaade': Almore haramzaade shine steadily!

Shomini Sen

Of late, Bollywood has taken tender steps outside the comforts of Mumbai and ventured into other parts of the country to make a film. From ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ to ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ to even ‘Kahaani’, all had the place playing an integral role in the narrative. In Habib Faisal’s ‘Ishaqzaade’, a fictitious place called Almore (presumably a small town in Uttar Pradesh) – the place and the intense politics that dominates the society plays a poignant part of the story line.

Zoya and Parma (Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor respectively) belong to two rival political families who are pitted against each other in the upcoming elections. The Qureshis and the Chauhans have had long standing rivalry between them which has been passed on for generations.

Zoya and Parma grow up knowing that they hate each other but somewhere down the line, the fiery bloods fall in love and are willing to fight the world for their love.

When the two fall in love instead of hating each other, clashes are bound to occur. In a land where gunshots are heard more than music, the warring families unite to kill the common enemy – their defiant kids – to protect their own image, their family honour.

With a bit of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ interspersed in the story line, ‘Ishaqzaade’ captures a love story in a small town of northern India where the Muslim girl is allowed to have shikaar as a hobby but is not allowed to get married to a Hindu boy – a political rival’s grandson. The girl may be progressive to roam around the city without a purdah but isn’t quite sure if she would want to get married to a kaafir, at least not before she converts him to her own religion.

The plot is racy and the narrative does not waste too much time in establishing the love story. That perhaps can go against the film, since the transition from hate to love for the lead protagonists happen a bit too quickly, leaving the viewer wondering whether it is that easy to love and hate a person.

The film keeps you engaged in the first half and the important twist right before the break is truly mind blowing. The second half unfortunately loses pace and the predictability creeps in by the end of it.

As the rustic, crass gun-strutting Parma, debutant Arjun Kapoor delivers a fine performance. For a south Bombay boy, it isn’t easy to get the Hindi twang right, but Arjun manages well. Yes, in some places he does remind you of Abhishek Bachchan’s Lallan act from Yuva, but maybe that is because both the characters are similar. He gives an earnest performance which charms you.

But the star of the film is clearly Parineeti Chopra. The actress shines as the aggressive yet naïve Zoya. Her strong screen presence ensures that you just look at her throughout. Certain scenes towards the beginning of the film are simply a delight to watch because of her expressions and body language. She fits well in the story, almost makes you believe that she is Zoya, shocked at her family’s betrayal towards her but proud of being in love with the hero.

Music by Amit Trivedi is already a hit. The title track, sung beautifully by Javed Ali and Shreya Ghoshal, is shot beautifully. Gauhar Khan as the kind-hearted prostitute Chand sizzles in two songs. It is a pity that she is used so less in the film.

Habib Faisal’s earlier film ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ had captured the Delhi and Punjabi culture well. In ‘Ishaqzaade’, he captures a small town in northern India and its typical nuances well.

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