I wasn’t overly enamoured by Manish Tiwary’s first film, Dil Dosti Etc., but it at least served as a calling card, an indication that interesting things could be in store. But his follow-up – Issaq, based on Romeo and Juliet – is a vile mess. Tiwary takes the Vishal Bhardwaj route and finds flavourful local equivalents – Mercutio becomes Murari, Verona becomes Varanasi – but the comparison stops there. The leads (Prateik Babbar, Amyra Dastur) have zero presence, and they’re directed to perform outlandishly. Scenes are staged in an overripe style that makes it unclear whether we’re supposed to be laughing at or with the characters, like the Naxal played by Prashant Narayanan, whose minions wear paper masks modelled after his face. And somewhere in there, a water gun during Holi celebrations is treated as a phallic symbol. By the time Tiwary unleashed a “joke” involving Tansen, Bhagat Singh, Kishore Kumar and the Rani of Jhansi, I’d had enough. What blight through yonder window breaks!
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