Love in the Time of Hate

Small town romance is back again on Bollywood’s radar,and Ishaqzaade goes about checking all the boxes

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Published: May 12, 2012 3:36 am

Ishaqzaade

DIRECTOR: Habib Faisal

CAST: Arjun Kapoor,Parineeti Chopra,Gauhar Khan

Rating: **1/2

Small town romance is back again on Bollywood’s radar,and Ishaqzaade goes about checking all the boxes. Locations yielding picturesque railway crossings,little bazaars,sprawling kothis. Determinedly dressed down characters. Lots of local patois,which these days translates into a shower of gaalis. And a pair of lovers who wield guns with much more ease than roses. It’s all in there,and yet the result is mixed: some of Ishaqzaade hits the spot,the rest is a drag.

Headstrong Zoya (Chopra) believes bandooks are much more fun than jhumkas. Hot-tempered Parma (Kapoor) thinks nothing of brawling and punching people when he is not setting fire to diesel sheds,just for fun. Sparks fly,and they combust with a passion rarely seen in family-friendly Yashraj Films. So far,all good. Then comes the second half,and things start unravelling. Zoya-the-Muslim girl discovers that her beloved abba’s affection for her is not as strong as she thought; Parma-the-Hindu boy has equally bloodthirsty relatives,all out to make sure never the twain shall meet.

It’s evident that Habib Faisal has a terrific ear. His characters speak a language that flows. Some of the banter between Parma and Zoya is lively. And for a YRF production,Ishaqzaade’s small town escapes being as designer as it can get. But overall,it feels stale,this business of using religious differences to divide true love in just this way. You can dress it how you want,with the parents and relatives of both coming off authentic,and the lines which make you smile,but at its core,it’s same old same old: the ‘naach-girl’ (Khan) with the golden heart is one of Hindi cinema’s oldest tropes,even though Gauhar Khan delivers a zesty,thumkedaar turn. And the ishq drowns in too much gunfire,which goes on for far too long.

First-timer Arjun Kapoor (son of Boney Kapoor) takes time to find his feet. It is Parineeti Chopra,who first showed up in a small part in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl,who owns this film. Her character is more construct than real; it is hard to believe any girl,small town or not,would behave the way she does. I buy as much of Zoya as I do only because of Chopra’s ability to be a complete natural. If she carries on in the way she’s begun,Bollywood may be on to a good thing.

shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com

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