Watch out, Leading Ladies of Bollywood. You have competition – again. Except this time, this actress has a legitimate chance of topping each one of you and becoming the next hot ticket for several years. In a field that was becoming less fluid, Hindi cinema seemed content with Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, and Vidya Balan grabbing all of the glam roles. Other actresses have attempted to move up in Bollywood’s hierarchy of leading ladies, only to be relegated to being item numbers or one-hit blunders. Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade may have single-handedly changed that game with a masterful performance by Parineeti Chopra. There should be no doubt after this weekend that there is a new kid on the block, and she is ready to deliver enough knock out punches on the screen to garner the attention of Bollywood casting directors and fans alike for years to come.
A clear-cut star in this weekend’s big Yash Raj Films release, Ms. Chopra’s performance in Ishaqzaade has given notice to the whole of Bollywood: there is a new player in town and she is not going anywhere anytime soon. Already a Best Female Debut award winner for her role in Ladies VS Ricky Bahl, the bubbly young actress with Haryana roots convincingly holds her own on the big screen with a strong presence and a near flawless performance in a role that is both multifaceted and powerful. She brings emotion, intensity, and liveliness to a film that is perfectly set up for each of these traits to be on display.
Her male counterpart and co-star, Arjun Kapoor, balance Ms. Chopra’s performance. Together, Ishaqzaade’s protagonists play out an intriguingly intense tale of romance in the midst of chaos. There is violence. There is struggle. There are all-out battles. Through it all and despite their differing religions, Zoya (Ms. Chopra) and Parma (Mr. Kapoor) have each other. Both have flawed character traits upsetting the world they respectively live in – which, fittingly, makes it easier for each to understand the other.
In a narration he both directed and wrote, Mr. Faisal paints a vivid picture of a vicious world where redemption is either nonexistent or nearly impossible to discover. IshazaadeI is a stark departure from Mr. Faisal’s adorable comedy Do Dooni Chaar. Shifting away from lightly commenting on the vanity-filled desires of the Indian middle class, Mr. Faisal vociferously challenges one of the oldest cultural conflicts that has defined the region’s sociopolitical development for generations: the Hindi-Islam wedge.
Despite the dark commentary, Mr. Faisal brilliantly infuses the right amount of color and hope, making Ishaqzaade a compelling story that is neither depressingly negative nor idealistically positive. Instead, Mr. Faisal mimics reality, one where there are reasons to smile amidst chaos, where one is weighed down by cynicism despite widespread energy and hope. Mr. Faisal does all this while crafting character that are easily relatable, both to those who live where the film is set (Uttar Pradesh) as well as to their brethren across the South Asian subcontinent. From being to end, there is no lack of realness in Ishaqzaade – which is quite surprising considering this is a Yash Raj production.
With solid cinematography, stellar acting, a well-written script, and resonating score, Ishaqzaade may indeed be one of the best films to come out of Bollywood in 2012. If anything, the film will at least make stars out of Ms. Chopra and Mr. Kapoor, who make their sophomoric and debutant performances, respectively. Already playing in wide release and debuting opposite Dangerous Ishq, Ishaqzaade may also be the one production that revives Yash Raj Films.
Reasons to like: Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor, Acting, Cinematography, Music, Story
Fans will also like: Dil Se, Mission: Kashmir, Guzaarish