The cast doesn't boast of superstars but the story of small-time thugs Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi falling for the serene-yet-coquettish young 'widow' Vidya Balan whose gangster husband has died, is not a run of the mill Bollywood potboiler.
Still, it has all the ingredients that are needed to sizzle and surprise you. Set in the heartland, Ishqiya goes out of the morality mode that was typical of Indian movies.
Iftikhar alias Khalu Jan [Naseer] and Babban [Arshad] share a wonderful chemistry and as they run from the menacing Mushtaq Bhai, who was intent on burying them into the qabr alive, the Bhopali duo reach Cowbelt.
They land in rural Gorakhpur, a place where kids get to know how to use Tamancha [revolver] even before they can wipe their posteriors. Khalu Jan falls in love with Vidya Balan alias Krishna Ji, the mysterious 'widow' who smooches just as passionately as she fires with the gun.
...ab mujhe koi intezaar kahaaN
voh jo bahte the aabshaar kahaaN...
There are funny dialogues, the unique accent of Bhopali Urdu along with Purabi dialect of Hindi prevalent in Eastern UP, and the duo's Jai-Veeru kind of relationship.
Krishna hatches a plan to abduct an industrialist and though the initially reluctant duo agree to it, as they have to return Rs 25 lakh to Mushtaq Bhai to save themselves.
More surprises are in store as the storyline takes you through rural Uttar Pradesh. A young boy joins Sena [army] but it is revealed later that it's not Indian army rather they are caste armies, backwards fighting thakurs et al. And there are red flags aflutter in a Maoist village.
Babban and Khalu Jan are no less surprised as the former says, 'Back at home we have only Shia-Sunni, but here there are Pandeys, Yadav, Jat, Thakurs...and everyone having their armies'. Gulzar's lyrics are once again refreshing with good cinematograhy turning it into a nice spectacle.
Having succeeded in their plan, Babban and Khalu Jan along with Krishna Ji are back. Each with their own ideas for future. There is another twist in story of love and betrayal with the return of the 'dead husband' who had assumed another identity and had played a deceitful game for his wife, brings more action.
Jilted lovers, Khalu Jan and Babban are on their way back from this Gorakhpur village. But both of them are still haunted by memory of the strange seductress. They return to her. What happens after that? Who will she go with? No judgment on morality.
..baghal mein joota...
This is another track. [Ibn-e-Batuta was the famous traveller, historian who often had to run away without wearing the footwear] The other song, 'Dil to bachcha hai...' has also become popular. Certified adult, this film is thoroughly enjoyable and it's advisable to watch it in theatre than on VCD.