I am trying to figure out the thinking that goes behind YRF’s movies. I am aware they have a strong marketing team and their inputs have a significant bearing on the kind of films made. One sports movie has worked, Chak De! India, let us make another, Dil Bole Horrendousness. Research is indicating that audiences like movies with rustic characters and realistic dialogues; then let us attempt those – Tashan, Lafangey Parindey, Band Baaja Baarat (BBB). Although the first two in that list were shuddering-ly forgettable, the last one was, a runaway surprise hit.
So, to make a new film, YRF’s marketing team does what most classical marketing people will do, start with taking the successful ingredients from a past hit (BBB). Find a debutant actor (Arjun Kapoor), pair him with another relatively fresh face (Parineeti Chopra), get the BBB screenplay chap to write-direct (Habeeb Faisal), set the movie in the Hindi hinterland (UP) and to top it all, masses’ favourite, add a couple of item songs! Should be enough for a commercial success, well no, the marketers go one step ahead and further their research and analyze hit newcomer movies of the past, only to lift the climax from the debut movie of one of the biggest stars in Bollywood today (revealing who would act as a spoiler). And voila, we have Ishaqzaade!
To be fair to the director and the lead actors, Ishaqzaade is not a bad movie. In fact for the entire first half, it is immensely watchable, with all the above mentioned success factors working just fine. It is just the crazy, clichéd second half and the most insipid, timid ending that let the film down.
Ishaqzaade, set in an imaginary small town in UP (very Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster feel), is about a love story between Parma (Arjun) and Zoya (Parineeti,) who not only belong to fiercely rival local political parties but also to different religions. The entire first half is lit up by the vagaries of the lead characters, while Parineeti is the firebrand daughter of the current MLA, trading jhumkas for a gun, Arjun’s Parma is far from the all white hero one expects in a debut movie, firing random gun shots and setting fire to local shops.
Expectedly love blooms between the two rivals leading to marriage at the interval. The stage is set for an absolutely cracker of a second half but this is where the writers make the script go haywire and with it, the characters too. The taming of Zoya’s character and Bollywood’s fascination with the clichéd love sacrificing hooker lead the path to disappointment. The icing on the cake of dissatisfaction is provided by the absolutely undeserving climax to the most interesting onscreen couple in recent times.
Kudos to the director in making the audience feel for the characters to this extent but majority of the plaudits must be reserved for the lead pair themselves that rake up a crackling on-screen chemistry. Arjun is excellent in the rogue parts and good in the emotional ones marking a confident debut and is all set for a bright career in B town. But it is Parineeti, who steals the show with a dazzling performance and she keeps you rooted to the screen, craving for more. Her Zoya is bold, beautiful and had the potential to be one of the cult characters in Bollywood, had it not been for the writers collective snoring in the second half. It should come as no surprise if her Bollywood trajectory follows a meteoric path from now on.
Amit Trivedi’s fabulous music score is another addition to the positives of Ishaqzaade. His Pareshaan is easily the pick of the soundtrack but do also give an ear to the hilarious lyrics of Jhalla Wallah sung by MusicAloud reviewer and my dear friend VIP’s favourite Shreya Ghoshal.
With fresh good actors, a reliable director, brilliant music and crisp editing, YRF’s marketers had all the ingredients for a blockbuster, if only the second half had panned differently. Bring back the Yash Raj of yore I say, they made full-fledged original entertainers not half baked could-have-been-awesome ones.
Rating: 2.5/5, mainly for Parineeti and Arjun (in that order). Reiterating, not a bad movie, just disappointing towards the end.
Dessert Note (DN, as desserts are served after main course, a dessert note is served after the main article):
Considering you had a significant role in Parineeti entering films, a big, big thank you. Although she can act way better than you did in your initial films, you just gave me another reason to let you continue as my favourite Chopra in the world!