For a long time I sat wondering whether this film called Issaq is based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or Stan Lee’s Spider-Man. Here is this guy jumping from roof to roof even when there are proper roads below in Varanasi. But then on closer inspection I noticed he wasn’t wearing any bodysuit. Are these then the rejected audition tapes of the last Spider-Man film?
And then the guy starts plunging into water bodies. Every few minutes. Is this the adaptation of The Little Mermaid then? Yes he is feminine enough and keeps smiling underwater. There he is again jumping roofs. This must be a two-in-one superhero like the hybrid maagur maachh we get in the fish market these days –– a little Benarasi mermaid who can jump roofs.
Everyone seems to be baying for blood around him. Sadly, no one is killing him. He was teaching spirituality to a foreign girl –– “true love is when you go under” –– and now he is claiming to be in love with the enemy’s daughter. There, that must be the Bard bait with the Kashyaps and the Mishras substituting for the Capulets and the Montagues and fighting over the Kashi ghats! But then why would someone be silly enough to transplant a Romeo and Juliet in a Vishal Bhardwaj-meets-Baz Luhrmann world when both are still quite fresh? Come on, Omkara was initially titled ‘Issaq’! And even the other R and J adaptation Ishaqzaade is just a year old. So much for novelty!
And then you cast a hero in the lead that makes you chant ‘Romeo Must Die’ through the film! What’s with this Prateik Babbar? His best performance is still those mute(d) five minutes in Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na. Ever since, he’s been whining away to glory and those extra dollops of muscles on his arms look so strange when juxtaposed with that squeaky little voice.
But this Pappu can jump, saala! And Pappi, er Bachchi (newcomer Amyra Dastur) is his Juliet who coyly says: “Tumhaare liye seraprize (surprise?) hai: main virgin hoon!” No wonder Ravi Kissen looks for his gun all day, Makrand Deshpande rises into thin air and Prashant Narayanan sculpts his own face in the sand and writes “wish you were here” on it!
The Holi song (Enne unne) in the first half is choreographed with a lot of panache but that’s just a mild crest in a trough-torn film. Otherwise Issaq is so scattered that you feel some of the scenes are just randomly strung together to make some sense of it. Shakespeare, who supposedly bathed just twice a year, would have definitely taken a dip in the Ganga if he had seen this adaptation.
The only intelligent thing about Issaq is the disclaimer which comes on the screen every time Babaji lights up his ganja –– “Character smoking herbs, not tobacco”! It’s another thing that the director (Manish Tiwary) must have also been smoking the same while making the film.
Don’t taste this namak Issaq ka; not good for your pressure blood, ka!