Reviewing the Reviews: Ishaqzaade

14 May,2012



Directed by: Habib Faisal


Produced by: Aditya Chopra


Written by: Aditya Chopra, Habib Faisal


Starring: Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra


A Yashraj film, by the man who wrote Band Baaja Baraat and directed Do Dooni Char; an industry kid being launched and a modern day Romeo & Juliet set in the political badlands of Uttar Pradesh. At least the combination of plusses evokes interest.


Parineeti Chopra walked away with accolades in Ishaqzaade, which otherwise got mixed reviews, mainly because critics expected more than just a collection of cliches from Habib Faisal.  Another Hindu-Muslim romance against an election backdrop? Oh no! Still, it got between 2-3.5 stars, which is not bad.


Raja Sen of gave it 2 stars and felt that it did a disservice to its heroine. “There is much craft on display, and some lovely moments, but the immense promise shown by the first half turns out as hollow as a politician’s. Soaked in sloppy sexism, the second half has the heroine repeatedly tortured — cheated, slapped, bound, gagged, shot at and abused — and yet the film decrees that she forgive. In the heartlands the film is set in, maafi is an all-absolving concept, an irretractable token of instant forgiveness, like a church confessional. Ishaqzaade, despite its artistry, deserves no pardon.”


Saibal Chatterjee writing in the NDTV website gave it 2.5 and commented: “ Faisal Habib creates the small town environment with an eye for detail, with many of the interactions between the young foes-turned-lovers taking place in and around a train station, in abandoned coaches and decrepit yards. It is a typical upcountry semi-urban space – dusty, crowded and cacophonous – with genuine and tangible dimensions.   The main characters, too, are by and large believable, especially because the roles are essayed by young actors who look real. The hero isn’t a sculpted hunk; the heroine is, at best, a pretty girl next door. However, the supporting cast, with the exception of Gauhar Khan, make little impression. That leaves too much of a load on the inexperienced leads. If only Arjun Kapoor’s dialogue delivery had greater punch and Parineeti Chopra could pull off the emotional moments without going shrill, Ishaqzaade would have been a markedly better film.”


Rajeev Masand of IBN gave it 2.5 as well. “Much of the film’s strengths come undone by the use of such tired cliches as the religious differences that stand in the way of true love, and the sacrificial hooker with a heart of gold. Also Faisal resorts to an unforgivably unoriginal climax – for both the resolution of the lovers, and their families – that sticks out in a film with such promise. ‘Ishaqzaade’ benefits considerably from Amit Trivedi’s excellent soundtrack and Hemant Chaturvedi’s sharp cinematography. Faisal creates a believable world with charming characters, and his leads have crackling chemistry. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for director Habib Faisal’s ‘Ishaqzaade’. It’s far from perfect, but you won’t be bored.”


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express also went with 2.5. “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, translate 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 ‘Ishqzaade’ hits the spot, the rest is a drag.”


Anupama Chopra of the Hindustan Times was not too impressed, still, gave it 3 stars. “Faisal sets up the story with great precision. Kapoor and Chopra are terrific as the explosive twosome. The music, composed by Amit Trivedi, works well. The casting is bang-on:Parma’s swaggering grandfather and his long-suffering but strong mother are nicely etched characters as is the local dancing girl, played by Gauhar Khan. Which is why it’s so disappointing to see it unravel. Still, Ishaqzaade does provide half a good time. How many films can you say that for?”


Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu wrote, “How do you take a story that’s been told over a hundred times at least in 100 years of Indian cinema and still make it relevant and reasonably engaging? Writer-Director Habib Faisal succeeds to a great extent in crafting an unpredictable first half full of spunk and spirit, but plays it boringly safe in the second, offering no new solutions or fresh perspectives in a story that has been done to death. You can’t help being disappointed with the limited ambition of this film that succeeds in creating characters who alternate between love and hate for each other.


Taran Adarsh of gave it a generous 3.5. “On the whole, Ishaqzaade, a volatile and intense story with ample doses of fanatical romance, should appeal to a pan-India audience. This broadly engaging love story has a winsome pair who deliver dexterous performances, besides popular music and several poignant moments, which should appeal to fans of mainstream films. Go for it!?”


Surprisingly Madhureeta Mukherjee of The Times of India gave it 3 stars, which is low by the paper’s standards. “Director Habib Faisal takes you into the heart of this small-town story, creating a politically-divided Almore with elan – penning gripping characters (a rigid and arrogant Dadda, a suppressed, dukhiari Amma, two overbearing brothers), but fails to maintain the crescendo in the second half. After highlights like a sensitively shot lovemaking scene on a rusty train berth, a subtly picturized romantic song (Pareshan), and a shocking pre-interval scene, it starts falling apart like a house of cards; ultimately folding into a predictable climax. The flatness of the second half is what takes away from the pace of a launch vehicle that could’ve been memorable.  ‘Ishaqzaade’ starts with a bang-bang, but ends up firing blanks.”


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