Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Even if you didn’t know it before, the first few frames of debutant director Abhishek Chaubey’s ‘Ishqiya’, will confirm that he has imbibed a lot of his skill from his mentor Vishal Bhardwaj. The look, tone and feel of the film are all very reminiscent of Bhardwaj’s films.
That said, Chaubey does bring his own sensibility to the film, depicting the arid, gritty landscape of Western UP and its people with a freshness that we haven’t seen very often on screen.
His characters are equally gritty, and have rough edges, and speak in a language we aren’t too used to hearing on screen, but feel so much more real. So when we meet Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and his nephew Babban (Arshad Warsi), two small-time crooks who run away with money that belongs to a local don, they seem to fit right into the landscape of the film.
On the run, they take shelter with Krishna (Vidya Balan), a widow who lives alone. But when the money goes missing and the don threatens to kill all of them if they don’t return it back to him, they devise a new plan to get back the money. In the midst of all this is the film’s main theme — Krishna’s relationship with the two men, her motives and what love means to her.