Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 10th January, 2014
Time : 152 minutes
Director, Co-Writer : Abhishek Chaubey; Co-Writers : Vishal Bhardwaj, Gulzar Music : Vishal Bhardwaj
Starring : Naseeruddin Shah, Madhuri-Dixit Nene, Arshad Warsi, Huma Qureshi, Vijay Raaz, Manoj Pahwa, Salman Shahid
Naseeruddin Shah grandly rattles off the seven stages of love. Arshad Warsi listens intently, obviously impressed with the big sounding Urdu words like ‘Dilkashi’ and ‘Ibaadat’ rolling of his Uncle’s tongue. A while later, though, not able to contain himself, he asks the question which has probably been on his mind since he’d heard this “Par Mamu, isme sex kahan hai ?”
That probably is a great encapsulation of what this film is about – a mix of what is modern and brash, with the ancient, almost forgotten world of Urdu poetry, couplets and sher-o-shayari. A caper film set in the realm of romance, in a world where time seems to have stood still. The nuanced Naseer sahib with the brazen Arshad. The delicate Madhuri with the forward Huma.
The widowed Begum of Mahmudabad, Madhuri, has to fulfill a promise made to her husband on his deathbed. And remarry. A poet. She has held a kavi sammelan for the last couple of years but neither she, nor her constant companion, Huma, have been impressed with the suitors. The most persistent one is Vijay Raaz, local MLA, thug, boss but, despite his best efforts to learn poetry, he doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Along comes Naseer, fresh from a heist gone wrong, pretending to be the Nawab of Chandpur, spouting shayari and pleasing poetry, all set to woo the Begum.
Mahmudabad is a town of haveli’s, Nawabs, shayari and a knowledgeable crowd who say Irshad in the right places and also, more out of fear, even cheer Vijay Raaz’s stuttering attempts at poetry. Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin are at hammer and tongs for most of the film – over how the previous heist ends and a perceived betrayal – but it is partially overcome by the attraction / lust they have for Huma and Madhuri respectively. Salman Shahid, as the man who bankrolls Arshad and Naseer, and wants to cut off their balls for not delivering, and Manoj Pahwa, as a great poet, who is stuck in a peculiar situation, are the other notable roles.
The film belongs to Naseer, for his ability to look like a seventeen year old while playing a seventy, while courting the Begum and Huma, for looking beautiful, hot and feisty at the same time. A delicate veiled look, quickly replaced by a cleavage showing damsel in distress, when appropriate. Arshad is good too, he has most of the funny lines but plays a more uni-dimensional character. Vijay Raaz is excellent as always, the softness of his love contrasted well with his thuggish ways. Am going to reserve judgement on Madhuri, she came across as a little stiff, though it could just be her interpretation of her character.
It’s a wonderful film of contrasts, full of beautiful moments (lovely sets, cinematography), love, romance, classical songs and old-world charm and poetry set off against naked lust, greed, mobile phone lingo and treachery. The humour, of course, is brilliant, rustic and non-stop. We could’ve seen one of the best films of the year in the first year itself !