Issaq Movie Review by Taran Adarsh

They say a ‘rose by any other name remains a rose’. Likewise, William Shakespeare’s timeless classic ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by any other name will always arouse tremendous curiosity. The tragedy of two young, star-crossed lovers has always provided fodder to many films [Bollywood/Hollywood]. As a matter of fact, there have been many adaptations and inspirations of this eternal love story. Director Manish Tiwary’s ISSAQ is no different. He has tried to illustrate the innocence of romance against the backdrop of violence and hatred.

Shakespeare or no Shakespeare, films like QAYAMAT SE QAYAMAT TAK and the much recent ISHAQZAADE are examples of love blooming between the offspring of two warring families. On his own admission, Manish claims his ISSAQ to be an adaptation of ‘Romeo & Juliet’. He does succeed in bringing out the essence of the love story that is set against the backdrop of the sand mafia and the dreaded Naxalites, but the film appeals in bits and spurts, not in entirety!

The story is set in Banaras and its neigbouring areas that are witness to violence unleashed by sand mafia controlled by two warring factions — Mishras and Kashyaps. Kashyap has an 18-year old, pretty daughter Bachchi [Amyra Dastur] from his first wife, while Mishra’s son Rahul [Prateik] is a good-looking teenager with predictable interests for a boy of his background — girls and guns. Things change when Rahul and Bachchi fall in love. Disregarding the consequences, the young lovers choose to go ahead with the diktats of their hearts…

ISSAQ banks heavily on guns and violence, as is the demand of the script. Even though the screenplay tilts towards the blooming romance of the lovebirds, it’s actually the gun-yielding men and the scheming woman [aptly played by Rajeshwari Sachdeva], who tend to leave an everlasting impact.

What is good about not just the film but also Bollywood is the fact that rather than investing heavily on foreign locales, it has now started discovering the stunning locales within India itself. Besides Delhi, Wai and other locales, Banaras seems to have caught the fancy of our storytellers, with films like RAANJHANAA, YAMLA PAGLA DEEWANA-2 [partly], besides several others, being filmed in this vibrant city. Even in ISSAQ, the locations and the camerawork is something that stays with you much after the film has concluded.

Even though the territory of the script is known to all, it’s the screenplay that keeps the film moving frame by frame. The narrative does get lengthy and stretched at times, courtesy the loose editing at places. Had the editing been crisper, it would have left an indelible impression for sure. While the first half of the film is slow moving and uneven, the post-interval portions are a bit stretched. In fact, the film gathers momentum only after the attacks on Amit Sial and Ravi Kishan. The soundtrack is commonplace, with the title track leaving an impression.

Of the cast, Prateik isn’t entirely persuasive. A bit more conviction would’ve only made a vast difference to his performance. Although this is Amyra’s debut film, she shows immense promise. A few right films and she could just be the face/name to watch out for. The director has truly succeeded to extract the maximum out of her facial innocence. Amongst the rest of the cast, while Neena Gupta is just about okay, it is Ravi Kishan [terrific], Prashant Narayan [convincing], Makrand Deshpande [super], Sudhir Pandey [competent], Vineet Kumar Singh [perfect], Prashant Kumar [proficient] and Amit Sial [first-rate] who stand out. Rajeshwari Sachdeva is top notch.

On the whole, ISSAQ is absorbing and convincing in parts, not in entirety. The final outcome could’ve been even more impactful had it not been stretched.

Rating: Two Stars

  1. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Issaq Movie Review by Raja Sen

    Issaq is an insultingly bad film

    Issaq is a shoddily written film with a cringeworthy performance from its leading man Prateik Babbar, writes Raja Sen.

    Back when he was making his Othello adaptation, Vishal Bhardwaj almost titled the film Issaq — a take on the Hindi heartland’s pronunciation of Ishq. Leading man Ajay Devgan’s love for that title aside, better sense prevailed and Bhardwaj went ahead with the alliteratively correct Omkara.

    This week a film called Issaq releases across the country, and it’s yet another Shakespeare adaptation: Romeo And Juliet, this time, set in Benaras.

    It is a preposterously bad film, a shoddy wannabe that — despite taking scraps from the table of Shakespearewallah Bhardwaj — lacks ambition, soul, clarity. In case you were wondering, that title is pronounced iss-suck. And the film takes that last syllable far, far too seriously. The first time I saw Prateik Babbar in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na I was significantly intrigued. The second time I saw him, this time as a leading man, I was impressed.

    Without holding his Dum Maaro Dum squeakiness against him, I thought he’d be a solid choice to play that most overplayed of romantics. Also, I’d found many a merit in director Manish Tiwary’s first film, Dil Dosti Etc. Guided by the bard’s most universally evocative (and most frequently evoked) text, I thought something interesting might be on the cards.

    It isn’t. This is a monstrosity, a shoddily put-together collection of weakly written scenes that don’t even attempt to flow from one scene to the other. The editors may be the chief culprits here, but the leading man must be chastised first.

    Babbar is an enormous failure and an overblown embarrassment. His performance, lacking in both consistency and sincerity, is affected also by a simian gracelessness: his line-readings are atrocious, and every other dialogue is delivered in a different kind of pitch.

    It is one of those cringeworthy producer’s-son kind of performances, but I hear the Ramaiyya Vastavaiyya bloke was less painful. (I don’t doubt it. What Babbar achieves here is a quite spectacular trainwreck; Tushhhar Kapoor and Jacckkie Bhagnani, however they spell their names, should hit theaters immediately for a good laugh.)

    Perhaps in a misplaced tribute/slur, Tiwary names his battling families Kashyap and Mishra: it feels as if independent filmmaking buddies Anurag and Sudhir had a truly bloody falling out.

    The two families are out and baying for each other’s blood, but in the middle of their gangland strife is shoehorned a strange “Madrasi” Naxalite who gets his men to wear his face on masks and sculpt likenesses of him in the sand. It is all most exasperatingly harebrained and amateurish.

    But then doesn’t that particular play work even when performed by schoolboys in drag dangling over cardboard balconies? The whole point of that love-struck romeo and his street-side serenade is that you know all the inevitable, gristly facts but hey… whatcha gonna do about it?

    Except here you just wait for the slicing and dicing to happen sooner in a film that feels four hours long.

    Amyra Dastur, the debutant who plays Juliet isn’t half-bad: she’s pretty and bright-eyed and altogether like a tolerable version of Prachi Desai, but then maybe she only seems decent here in comparison to the blundering Babbar.

    There’s a sweet scene with her getting her nose pierced for love, but that’s about it. Vineet Kumar (he of that Bombay Talkies murabba story) eats a lot and is made to act in a totally different sur than others around him, as if he was borrowed from a Kashyap film, his style left unchanged.

    Similarly Sudhir Pandey acts like he was in a Priyadarshan movie (complete with boing-boing background score ‘hilarity’) and Ravi Kissen hams it up as if Prakash Jha’s life depended on it. Rajeshwari Sachdev is the only one who actually does well in the context of the movie, though an argument may perhaps also be made for the every-grizzly Makarand Deshpande who plays a ganja-loving swami (the obvious apothecary).

    Issaq is, then, an insultingly bad film.

    At one point the Naxalite nutjob asks his troops what they want: a car, a bungalow, a lot of cash. “Katrina Kaif,” they yell back in fevered unison. I disagree. After the way Babbar manages to smile beatifically through this mess, forget car or Kaif, I’ll have whatever he’s having.

    Rating: 0

  2. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Issaq Movie Review by Komal Nahta

    Paramhans Creations and Dhaval Gada Productions’ Issaq (UA) is a love story inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Set in Banaras, it has Rahul Mishra (Prateik) and Bachchi Kashyap (newfind Amyra Dastur), son and daughter of two warring men, falling in love despite the families thirsting for each other’s blood.

    Rahul falls head over heels in love with Bachchi but her father (Sudhir Pandey), stepmother (Rajeshwari Sachdeva) and maternal uncle, Teetas (Ravi Kishan), are unaware of this love affair. Teetas is livid when he gets to know about his niece dating Rahul and he wants to nip the romance in the bud at any cost because of the enmity between the two families. Both the families believe in the language of voilence and bloodshed, making the romance that much more dangerous. However, Bachchi’s Amma (Neena Gupta) is in favour of Bachchi’s choice.

    Teetas kills Murari (Amit Sial), a member of Rahul’s group, when he confronts Rahul to ask him to stop meeting his niece. In retaliation, Rahul murders Teetas. Bachchi’s father now confirms her marriage with police inspector Pritam (Prashaant Kumar). Bachchi’s wedding preparations are on fast track but Bachchi is against this marriage. Meanwhile, Rahul is on the run as the police is after him for the murder of Teetas. Why, police inspector Pritam also enlists the support of the Naxal leader (Prashant Narayanan) to kill Rahul so that he can marry Bachchi without any hassles. And this, in spite of the fact that the Naxal leader and Bachchi’s maternal uncle were sworn enemies.

    So what happens finally? Does Bachchi marry Pritam or not? Do Rahul and Bachchi live happily ever after?

    The story, written by Manish Tiwary, Padmaja Thakore Tiwary and Pawan Sony, is oft-repeated and there is no novelty in it. A boy and a girl, from two warring families, falling in love and defying all obstacles to try and unite has been the subject matter of many earlier Hindi films and this one offers the same plot and story. The screenplay, penned by the trio, is very confusing because of several reasons – firstly, there are too many characters, most of them with names difficult to remember, and who have not been too well-established; secondly, the language spoken by the characters is a dialect of U.P., not pure Hindi, because of which the viewers have to make an effort to understand the drama; thirdly, the initial reels have so much happening that it takes quite long for the audience to understand what’s going on and who is on which side. Besides the above drawbacks, the film fails to involve the audience because the script simply does not touch the heart. Although it is a love story, the viewer’s heart never really beats for the two lovers because his sympathy doesn’t go out to them completely. This may be because the two characters – Rahul and Bachchi – don’t endear themselves to the audience. In other words, the romance is far from heart-warming. The film lacks in light moments because of which the action-romantic tale becomes a tension-filled ride for the viewers. Even the emotional appeal of the drama is weak. Yes, the climax has a shocking twist but that alone can’t salvage the film which bores almost throughout before that point. Dialogues, penned by the trio, are commonplace and, as mentioned above, have been written in a language which would greatly restrict the film’s appeal to just a few parts of North India.

    Prateik does an ordinary job and plays the character of Rahul Mishra rather superficially. His acting leaves something to be desired and alienates the character from the audience. Amyra Dastur makes a confident debut. She looks pretty and is also a good actor. Ravi Kishan is his usual self as Teetas. Prashant Narayanan gets limited scope and he is good. Prashaant Kumar hardly has anything substantive to do in the role of Pritam, and he is alright. Makarand Deshpande (as Baba), Neena Gupta (as Amma), Rajeshwari Sachdeva (as Bachchi’s stepmother) and Sudhir Pandey (as Kashyap) lend able support. Evelyn Sharma (as Roza), Yuri Suri (as the minister), Amit Sial (as Murari), Malini Awasthi (in the role of Manorama), Ishtiyak Khan (as the reporter), Saurabh Yadav (as Paras), Vineet Kumar (as Bihata), Akhilesh Jha (in the role of Mahendar), Sandeep Bose (as Rahul’s father, Mishra), Pradeep Ghosh (as Mishrilal), Parvez Fazal Khan (as Surta) and Mehdi (as Nandkishore) pass muster.

    Manish Tiwary’s direction is ordinary. His narrative style reflects his self-indulgence and makes the film boring and monotonous. On the music side, it is only the title song (composed by Sachin-Jigar) which is a hit number. The other songs (Sachin-Jigar, Krsna and Sachin Gupta) fail to weave the same magic. Lyrics of the title song (Mayur Puri) are rich but otherwise, the lyrics (Anil Pandey, Rajshekhar and Neelesh Misra) don’t add much to the music. Prasanna Sujit’s choreography is commonplace. Background music is quite nice. Vishal Sinha’s cinematography is very good. Parvez Fazal Khan’s action and stunt scenes afford some excitement. Ashwini Shrivastav’s production designing is alright. Manoj Kannoth’s editing is not sharp.

    On the whole, Issaq is a dull and dry drama in spite of abundant violence and action in it. It lacks in entertainment value and will, therefore, fail to deliver at the ticket windows.

  3. Author
    aryan 8 years ago
  4. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Issaq Movie Review by Rajeev Masand

    It’s an exhausting and predictable exercise in futility

    Issaq’, directed by Manish Tiwary has texture, some interesting characters, and a premise ripe with potential. Yet all that is squandered away in this rather literal adaptation of Romeo and Juliet because of an incoherent screenplay and sloppy editing.

    Tiwary sets the film in Benares, where the Kashyaps and the Mishras have a long-standing feud, presumably over common business interests. Their enmity routinely spills onto the streets when members of either camp encounter the other. Curses are exchanged, blood is spilled, and so it continues.

    When Rahul (Prateik Babbar), the young son of the Mishra family patriarch, and Bachchi Kashyap (newcomer Amyra Dastur), the daughter of his father’s sworn rival, inevitably fall in love, her hot-headed uncle Teetas (Ravi Kissen) almost pops a blood vessel, and becomes determined to thwart their romance permanently.

    Rooted in a milieu the director is evidently familiar with, ‘Issaq’ nevertheless proves a hard slog because the language is often indecipherable. Unlike ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ and ‘Omkara’, to which it owes much by way of inspiration, the dialogues here are frequently contrived, particularly some of the exchanges between Prateik and Amyra that are peppered with (intentional) mispronunciations of English words.

    As many as three editors are credited with piecing together this film, and yet there are chunks of vital information that appear to have been lopped off carelessly. Significant characters – like a minister who attempts to broker peace between the two warring factions, and a Naxal leader (Prashant Narayanan) who exploits their rivalry – get little screen time to justify their presence in the script. On the other hand, an intriguing subplot about a central character and his affair with a married woman never feels adequately explored.

    There’s a tender, playful tone to the romance between Prateik and Amyra’s characters, and the pair shares a warm chemistry. But both actors lack the chops to carry off the more serious scenes in the film. Prateik, in particular, has a charming presence, and the camera clearly loves him. But he struggles – and fails spectacularly – in creating a wholesome, believable character. Meanwhile, dependable actors like Ravi Kissen and Neena Gupta ham through their scenes, while Rajeshri Sachdev gets a few moments to shine.

    At nearly two hours and thirty minutes, ‘Issaq’ is a plodding bore of a film that inspires neither empathy for its romantic leads, nor enough contempt for those who drove them to their tragic end. It’s an exhausting and predictable exercise in futility.

    I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for ‘Issaq’. Shakespeare won’t be thrilled. And neither will you.

    Rating: 1.5/5

  5. sameer 8 years ago

    Rajeev Masand writes “Issaq’, directed by Manish Tiwary has texture, some interesting characters, and a premise ripe with potential. Yet all that is squandered away ” AND “Prateik, in particular, has a charming presence, and the camera clearly loves him. ” I also felt the same while watching Issaq. Pratik is good. He needs a good director. I think the director was fluctuating between brilliance and shit, in every frame. There is intensity, subtlity, style and poignance in one instant… and absolute absurdity in the next. One moment the director is very clear in his story telling on the other he is halucinating like one of the characters in the movie. If at all there is anyone to blame it is Mr. Tiwari the director.Not Pratiek. Pratiek Babbar has screen presence and looks the young goodlooking guy and not a 30plus guy playing the young Romeo. All Prateik needs is a good director …maybe a love story with Karan Johar or any other movie with the avand garde directors. …

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