Bollywood review: Prateik’s steamy love story ‘Issaq’ just doesn’t make the cut

A girl and a boy fall hopelessly in love, notwithstanding the hatred festered by their warring families.

They innocently hope their love, once discovered, will miraculously force their families to overlook their bloody past and hearten them to rebuild better relations.

Love, they believe is immensely powerful and can easily achieve miracles.

While most (Bollywood) dreamers might easily buy into this fantasy, realists might find it tough to comprehend.

That said, director Manish Tiwary sets out with a safe story that banks on Shakespeare’s tragic romance ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

However, he and his co-writers Pawan Sony and Padmaja Thakore Tiwary are unable to retain the simplicity of the classic and end up creating an incoherent love story that stretches over 150 minutes.

There are plots and sub-plots, attacks and counter-attacks, and numerous characters that make this revenge saga rather bewildering.

The many songs and dances, and the unnecessary use of tacky computer graphics just add to the chaos.

‘Issaq’, which subtly captures the rustic twang of North India, does work in bits and parts, but not in entirety.

What's most unforgiving is his decision to mock a revolution unnecessarily. Although the scene where the rebels are masked in sync does evoke a few chuckles, it almost undermines their cause.

That, in effect, is where Tiwary fumbles. He's unable to flesh out his characters or their pursuits impressively.

While the director might deny any Bollywood influences, it’s tough not to ignore glimpses of ‘Ishaqzaade’ and Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ in his canvas.

Set along the rustic terrains of Benaras, two influential families – the Mishras and the Kashyaps – are locked in constant fights.

Their enmity is legendary, and something that a bunch of socialist rebels are vying to take advantage of.

Caught in this crossfire are the next generation – Rahul Mishra and Bachchi Kashyap – who, despite knowing the lethal implications are willing to let their hearts rule their mind.

Their romance blossoms in the hope of a better, more peaceful tomorrow.

Although the screenplay is partial to the romantics, capturing Rahul and Bachchi in many glorious frames and tunes, it’s the wicked men (and woman) who emerge more substantial.

Ravi Kishen stands out as the menacing Teeta Singh, whose greed for power finds him unabashedly romancing a married woman. Every appearance of his is faultless, and he clearly overshadows the rest of the cast.

Following close behind is Prashant Narayan as the rebel leader, who mouths Malayalam and Hindi dialogues with impeccable ease. Despite his Malayali roots, he’s nicknamed ‘Madrasi’ as if to stress the oversight that’s fairly common in North India.

There’s also Amit Sial and Vineet Kumar Singh, who get to indulge in a fair deal of menacing acts as the feisty Murari and Bihata.

Rajeshwari Sachdev fills in as the conniving second-wife of a notorious leader who isn’t ashamed to hide her feelings for a man other than her husband. And, when the battle intensifies, she sheds her seductress image for something more daring. At every turn, she shocks and surprises, leaving an incredible impact.

Seasoned artists Makarand Despande and Neena Gupta are left with nothing much to do. Of the two, it is Makarand who gets a better deal and he’s unfailingly impressive as the boisterous sage who alters his prayers to keep his audience entertained.

The lovers – Prateik and Amyra Dastur – flaunt good physical attributes, but their acting capabilities aren't worthy of much. Everything from their accent to their coy interactions are inconsistently half-baked

Prateik’s life flashes over time, and we often see him run with passion, only this story is less about the athletics and more about the heart.Alas, the director wasn't as focused.

With Bollywood inundated with glorious stories of love, this one just doesn’t make us skip a heartbeat.

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