Past & Forward
By Khalid Mohamed
Friday, May 25, 2012

Yash Raj’s Ishaqzaade creams Dangerous Ishq at the box-office. Maybe Karisma is past her prime. Or maybe honouar killings is a more hot-button reality than reincarnation

It turned out to be a clash of interests. When two-widely publicised films are released on the same Friday, the audience’s curiosity is bound to be divided. On May 11, 
viewers clearly cast their vote in favour of Ishaqzaade toplining two newcomers. Consequently, Dangerous Ishq — a 3-D thriller which marks the return of Karisma Kapoor to the screen after a hiatus of six years — proved to be the instant casualty.

Sad, but like Mumtaz, Raveena Tandon and Madhuri Dixit, who sought to return to acting after marriage and motherhood — with Aandhiyan, Buddah Hoga Tera Baap and Aaja Nachle respectively — Karisma’s bid to regain her popularity has been in vain. To be sure, by and large, the reviews have been positive about her performance: she is competent enough in the role of a supermodel who goes through a past-life regression syndrome spanning five centuries. In a convoluted way, director Vikram Bhatt was tackling the theme of reincarnation, but both the screenplay and its treatment were downers.

Last year, Bhatt’s 3-D horror-fest Haunted had achieved the hit status. 
But this time around, neither the special effects 
nor the presence of Karisma Kapoor, could attract sufficient crowds, in India or overseas.

Perhaps the box office collections would have been way more upbeat 
if Dangerous Ishq had 
been the solo release of 
the week. Except during festival weeks, it is tantamount to committing 
harakiri to take on competition from a film which, in this case, came from the top-of-the-line Yash Raj production studio.

Moreover, the film just wasn’t up to scratch. Karisma was mismatched with Rajneish Duggal, younger than her by five years. In addition, none of the songs composed by Himesh Reshammiya could be called a certified chartbuster.

On the other hand, Ishaqzaade, co-written by Aditya Chopra with director Habib Faisal could boast of a more catchy music score by Amit Trivedi (the Emotional Atyachar composer), and a plot premise which touches upon the subject of honour killings in India’s hinterlands. In recent years, there has been a rising incidence of parents opting for the extermination of their children — of either gender — if they are opposed to their marriage for caste or social status differences.

Faisal, who earlier 
directed the winsome Do Dooni Char, relates the story of a runaway couple, belonging to warring Hindu and Muslim families, as realistically as it is possible within the fantasy-prone Bollywood format.

Risible comedy, titillating item numbers and a soupcon of the absolutely fantasticated do mar the otherwise hard-hitting film. Its major triumph is in making the heroine spunky — a young woman who demands equality with every male in sight, including the deceptive wastrel she has married in a moment of weakness.

The feminist underpinnings, however inadvertent they may have been, raise the bar of a dramaturgy which is essentially another riff on the classic Romeo and Juliet love story.

In lieu of the Montagues and the Capulets, the Chauhans and the Qureshis slug it out before the local elections. The plot twists with a ne’er-do-well from the Chauhan clan duping a feisty Qureshi girl — but then love strikes. The young pair realise 
that they are nothing but pawns in a power game, and break all the rules, caring a whit for their religious differences. A strong secular film this, it’s unlike the candy floss usually vended by the Yash Raj factory.

The film scored over Dangerous Ishq from the opening day itself, and has made a star out of its confident debutant hero, Arjun Kapoor. It’s tragic that his mother, Mona Kapoor — former wife of producer Boney Kapoor — couldn’t live to see her son’s big day. She succumbed to a terminal illness weeks before the Ishaqzaade premiere.

As for the film’s leading lady, Parineeti Chopra, she’s outstanding. Using her voice and eyes expressively, she gives her second film after Ladies vs Ricky Behl a major part of its wallop. Undoubtedly Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra, are about to become the hottest properties in the market.

Regarding Karisma  Kapoor, all you can hope is that she gets one more chance to rise from the ashes.

(The writer has been reviewing Bollywood for decades, has scripted three films and directed three others.)

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