Having enjoyed Ishqiya immensely, it is with great relief and happiness that I can confirm Dedh Ishqiya is an equally wonderful film. Reprising the story of the uncle-nephew duo of Khalujan and Babban, DI moves forward and joins our protagonists after the first film ends (though I must add that you do not need to have seen Ishqiya to fully appreciate this film). Thankfully, Shah and Warsi effortlessly bring their characters back to life and still have that marvellous on-screen dynamic that we saw in the preceding film. In particular, Warsi (who truth be told I am not too keen on) shines in this role, adding nuance and base to the hapless Babban whilst Shah is a masterclass in action.
There are plenty of layers in DI and the film manages to satisfy a difficult brief of keeping viewers entertained and informed in both the moment and over the course of the narrative which sounds simple in theory but requires a concrete story, competent script and watertight direction as standard to pull off. Not only does DI have these elements in a curated abundance but added to this mix are beautiful nuances and a dark subtext which is in turns solemn and uplifting, mirroring the journey of the story. I also loved the poetry and invocation of a lost world (namely that of sovereignty) married neatly with a recognisable reality to make for a delicious fusion of the old world India and the new.
Of course, the star attraction here is La Dixit, whose breathless recitation of her dialogue, eyes that say everything and simple screen presence bring a gravitas and wonderful aura to the film that has not been seen on the silver screen for a long time. Dixit still has plenty to offer the world of Hindi cinema and this is the perfect showcase for her talents – never mind her lovely acting, DI is worth watching for her ability to tell a story through her dancing, something that is lost in the body rolls and pelvic thrusts of today. Qureshi (rightly) seems in awe of Dixit but gives a likeable and respectable turn as Muniya. I also loved Raaz who makes his presence felt.
Quite simply, Dedh Ishqiya is a must watch film that will appeal across the board – despite its darker allusions and adult themes, DI never feels the need to flaunt all its assets at once but instead, carefully teases before revealing itself, all with unforced yet detailed precision. Furthermore, DI sounds a rousing bugle for how Hindi cinema is sitting on a wealthy resource of actresses like Dixit who have to yet to reach their prime and whose presence and talent have the capability of not only creating a fascinating new genre of its own but also actually advancing Hindi cinema into a glorious new age of films. Unmissable.