Ishqia: Some thoughts

I happened to see “Ishqia” a recent Hindi film, which will be talked
about for quite some time for its “sterling” performances by
Nasirudeen Shah, Vidya Balan and Arshad Warsi.  Even by  Namrata Joshi
‘s (Outlook) admission it is all about two crooks and their modus
operandi to fetch jackpots, hoodwinking moneyed bigwigs and the police
force , find causes for spending it and then begin from scratch, carry
out their “tasks”, to be left scot-free again. The lovely dame in the
movie, none other than Vidya Balan, loves many, is her graceful and
sensuous best, casts a spell on you (yes someone is saying incredible
charm) and the rustic setup, the glorious mountains, the streams and
rivers – all of this is around Gorakhpur we are told – matches those
dream-dance sequences shot in the Alps and in Canada.

So what was my problem?

Truly it is the conflict between form and content. Or better what
gains primacy, or even better what determines what? We are then back
to the days of that great analyst of literature, Terry Eagleton, who
somewhere had ruled that content and only content should determine
form. Now apply it elsewhere! Even to the field of media, to music, to
novels, short stories and what-have-you. This approach at least would
help dismiss many “works of art” as compromising trash!

So the fundamental question, how do we treat such films, that receive
raving reviews for their outer structure, lilting Hindusthani Music (I
forgot to mention this in the earlier paragraph), but what does it
finally talk about? Are we to tell our children, friends and
countrymen that this is a good film? Children could be omitted from
the list for the film enjoys “A” certification. Do we recommend this
film for viewing? Or is it all part of a democratic tradition that
asks for tolerance not sheer condemnation? Can we term this as a kind
of new-alternative distinguishable from those mindless non-cinematic
films that are made by all and sundry these days? By alternative I
mean a film that is neither an art film nor a noisy and disgusting
entertainer, but something that could be placed in-between. After all
those art films are meant for the elite and the high-brow! That, mind
you, is the pet interpretation of art films. We will also look at that
on another occasion.

Still I do not know if I have got my point! My demand is for films
that can afford scope for good acting, lest it should be forgotten, a
kind of story (or it could be even an incident), love and songs (true
love, if it could be captured and depicted), a discernible purpose,
some direction. Ultimately after the film you may not get into endless
weeping or indulge in irresponsible laughter. It should remain with
you and give the option of recalling it in some related context. And
really finally technology, dear Brutus, is not art! Remember the films
of Vittalacharya. There was not much of technology at his disposal and
yet….Those trick-scenes, those explosions, mythical characters
appearing from dust and smoke, oceans and mountains splitting with
ease all worth recollecting now…. Where to know more is at once
synonymous with knowing more and more of technology. (This film is
directed by Abhishek Chaubey)



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