Imagine then a couple of small time crooks, or maybe they’re more accurately described as wanna-be desperadoes. They are in fact criminals, but getting caught is a problem for them. This time, they’re not only caught, but they’ve been caught by the same guy whose bag of money they stole. So there they are in a pit that they dug themselves into. Both literally and figuratively. This will soon be their tomb. So at the film’s outset, they’re more desperate than desperadoes. This is actually the second scene before the opening credits.
In the first scene, before the opening credits, we meet a couple in bed. She’s the beautiful wife Krishna, and he’s the husband Verma. We come to find out three things in this opening segment – Krishna’s husband doesn’t come around much – just three nights in three years. She suggests that he surrender to the authorities as he would receive a very light jail term, so that afterwards he might be around full time. He’s not in agreement and playfully and intentionally acts confused – ‘Cylinder, cylinder? What are you talking about woman?’ Shortly thereafter, the house explodes.
Welcome to the fabulous 2010 film, Ishqiya, by Indian director Abhishek Chaubey. I watched this one on a DVD rental from Netflix, and I think it is eminently a film that I can recommend.
So the stage is set. Krishna, played by the truly marvelous Vidya Balan, is now a widow. The two crooks managed to escape as well. Khalujaan is played by Naseeruddin Shah (above-left) who was so great in A Wednesday, and his cohort and partner-in-crime is Babban, and is played by Arshad Warsi (above-right). They once knew Verma, and so now they show up at his home and find that he’s no longer up and about, and there’s just Krishna, his widow.
She’s going to take them in and allow them to lay low for a while in her home. What she’s also going to do is take them in, one-by-one, with her charms and beauty. Vidya is not just a grieving widow, she’s a widow with a brain inside her head and within her beautiful exterior lies a devious heart.
There’s your set up: we’ve got the three main players, Vidya as Krishna , Warsi as Babban, and Shah as Khalujaan, we’ve also got the gangster whose money the crooks stole, and still have, and he wasn’t able to execute them or recover his money. Besides that, where they are is the Indian version of the Wild West. This is rural Uttar Pradesh, the Indian state where lawlessness is endemic, and if you don’t have a gun – life will be short.
Yes it’s a love triangle on the outside but within is a story of woman who is anything but the docile and sad widow. She’s going to do to whatever it takes to get what she wants, and it is going to be more than just money and love. She’s also wants empowerment.
This is a splendid film. You’ll like the work of Shah and Warsi; the crooks with a bag of money and the hots for the good widow. She’s going to get them involved in a kidnapping – so they can clear their accounts with the gangster, and still walk away with plenty, in short a huge pay-day. The beauty of the film, besides the lead actors, is in the simplicity of the story, and the exquisite camera work. The screenplay was a joint effort by Director Chaubey, producer Vishal Bhardwaj, and the co-script writer Sabrina Dhawan.
But Vidya Balan whom we loved in No One Killed Jessica, walks away with this film. She’s not only sexy and smart, but she’s always two jumps ahead of everyone including us. Her beauty will transfix you but not so much that you’ll miss the nimbleness of her well rounded performance. Whether she’s just chopping vegetables, humming a tune, or sending out some strong signals to these guys, she’s mesmerizing, and all of it is deliciously memorable. If you can see this one through Netflix, or you can buy the DVD, do so by all means. This movie is that good!