Baz Luhrman made a near perfect Romeo + Juliet in the 90s. After that, every film that treaded the Shakespearan path of love can be traced back to it. Vishal Bhadarwaj also dabbled with the Bard and delivered a gem. Now, director Manish Tiwary tried to make a dismal attempt by following the footsteps of these accomplished film-makers. Issaq, Tiwary’s version of Romeo and Juliet, set in Banaras, is darn loud and failed to carve a new lingo.
Every character in the film is fuming, screaming and, above all, wearing writhed expressions. The movie has a simple plot and follows a linear and predictable storytelling mode. The performances of the lead pair Prateik Babbar and Amyra Dastur are miles away from being magnetic. They lack the unsettled flicker that’s inevitable of Shakespeare’s lovers.
Issaq is replete with the staple ingredients of a UP recipe – guns, profane language, cringing women, sadhus, overdose of color, fumes of ganja and a local Hindi parlance that makes up for the setting. Probably this violent landscape is ideal for the ill-fated love story to bloom. The film is made overtly dull and uninspiring. The set up looks unconvincing. Blame it on the lame treatment; not a single scene throws surprise or ingenuity. Issaq tries to ooze some style by making a mash up of colors and taking some cues from old school styled film-making where trick photography and fast forward movements ruled the roost.
The story is all about the rivalry of the Kashyaps and the Mishras. There’s a Maoist group and its leader, played by Prashant Narayanan, in this war for money and power. In an utmost predictable manner, a Holi afternoon brings Rahul (Prateik) and Amyra (Bachchi) together and they fall in love. No cookie for saying that they belong to the rival families. Their families get to know about their love and leave the floor open for pain and melodrama to seep in. Juliet is painstakingly shown as lifeless, powerless and as one who pops up a surprise to Romeo that she’s a virgin. The couple waits for the magical end to reunite.
Prateik Babbar had a lot of potential to harness in this role but he failed to capitalize on that. He is few films old and still can’t show the craft and ripeness in his acting. He couldn’t convey even a small chunk of his character’s emotion. Amyra Dastur’s exquisite looks won’t suffice to sail through the film. She needs to add more scoops of her acting skills. The dialogues are mundane and the way the lead actors render, make them seem more artificial. The supporting cast must be lauded for breathing life into lackluster scenarios muddled with exasperating platitudes.
Now the rack-the-brain question is why the writers Pawan Sony, Padmaja Thakore and Manish Tiwary dumped the Shakespeare classic into a rustic, localized, stereotypic cistern?
My rating: Expectation – 6/10; Reality – 3/10view less