<Review by: Anuvrat Bhansali>
Directed by Habib Faisal. Starring Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra.
An inter-caste love story set in a city that runs on the law of the jungle, Ishaqzaade is a raw and fresh take on honour killings but it gets you yawning sooner than you expected.
Parma Chauhan (Arjun), a young and ruthless lad from a small town in UP is doing everything possible to keep his clan flag flying high and ensuring his grandfather is victorious in the next elections. In the same town, his childhood enemy, a pampered Zoya Qureshi (Parineeti) is campaigning for her father and fostering a fetish for guns and fights. After being publically insulted by Zoya, Parma avenges himself with a phony love marriage with Zoya, which consequently is used as a ploy to defeat the Qureshis. Parma is now the hero of the clan but his mother wants him to amend all his wrongdoings. Honouring his mother’s command, Parma’s love for Zoya gets more eloquent but it’s too late as both the clans have realised the political backlash of this inter-caste love story. The chase begins but Parma and Zoya ensure that love has the last laugh.
The story of Ishaqzaade is firsthand but its screenplay is a bit slack and underwhelming. It gets draggy at multiple times even though it has some excellent action sequences and hilarious one liner moments. The misery of protagonists trying to escape the tyranny of their families is anything but evocative. It’s a failed attempt to feel for them. Perhaps, the most commendable part for a love story set in the remote UP is the detailing of locations, costumes and supporting actors. You would expect such raw composition only with likes of Vishal Bharadwaj or Anurag Kashyap. Making the story a notch more real are the action sequences that don’t succumb to the classic ‘Hero Vs Whatever Number = Hero Will Win’. Amit Trivedi’s music is an absolute ear-treat. The dub step title-track seems like an apt representation of a fearless couple.
Undoubtedly, the star of the movie is Parineeti Chopra. Just a movie old, she is almost effortless but unfortunately her character is either completely unabashed or enormously submissive – leaving no room for a rather multi-faceted performance. Arjun Kapoor fails to emote and wastes the big opportunity to play a small town rebel. He never leads the story – should’ve tried a less intense role to begin with. With a much smaller role including two item numbers, it’s Gauhar Khan who impresses with a sensitive performance. The supporting actors too deserve big applause because essentially it’s their performance that holds the story together and fills it in crucial parts.
Ishaqzaade could have been better with a tighter screenplay and editing and more intense performances from the protagonists. It has a social message that no one really figures until the end credits begin and honestly no one really cares. It is one of the many in the list of movies that arrive with a big bang and make instant headlines for its lead actors and musical score but end as immensely mediocre fare.