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Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi, Salman Shahid, Adil Hussain, Rajesh Sharma, Anupama Kumar, Gauri Mala, Master Alok Kumar, Anisha Bano,  Jai Singh
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Producers: Raman Maroo, Vishal Bhardwaj
Story: Abhishek Chaubey
Cinematographer: Mohana Krishna
Music Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Banners: Shemaroo  Entertainment, Vishal  Bhardwaj Pictures

The first scene establishes Krishna (Vidya Balan) as a voluptuous woman while what follows establishes Iftekhar aka Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) as petty conmen on the run from their Eli Wallach kind of boss, Mushtaq Bhai (Salman Shahid). The film borrows its heroine from James Hadley Chase, adds a bit of cowboy western and blends it with violent Eastern UP where kidnapping is a norm, almost a profession along with peddling country made weapons.

On the run after having swindled their boss of Rs 25 lakh, Khalujaan and Babban seek shelter at an old jail mate, Vermaji’s (Adil Hussain) house in a small village in Eastern UP. Krishna, his wife offers them shelter. The boss catches up with Khalujaan and Babban who agree to return the money but the place where it was hidden is empty, the money has gone missing. They have one month to return it else all three would be killed.

So far the film is all about bonhomie and flirting and romancing. Krishna spreads her charm on both conmen with her seductive ways. But it is time a story was brought in. Krishna suggests they kidnap a rich man for ransom to repay the lost money to Mushtaq Bhai. A target is chosen. It is from here, where an effort has been made to tell a story that Ishqiya starts to falter making the second half of the film a muddle, the climax being the biggest of all.

Arshad Warsi as couldn’t care less, happy-go-lucky con scores thanks to some witty one-liners he gets to mouth. Vidya Balan as an enticing widow excels. Naseeruddin Shah as a-dyed-in-the-wool criminal is good. Adil Hussain is okay. Master Alok Kumar overacts even in a brief role.

Directorially, Abhishek Chaubey shows a lot of promise but loses his grip as the film progresses. Music is very good with a couple of numbers already topping charts. Dialogue preserves local flavour which includes foul language which may be a deterrent to certain type of film lovers. Photography is good.

Ishqiya is more a critic’s delight than a box office success story.

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