Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Release date:
September 21, 2018
Prerna Wadhawan

Richa Chadha, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Raj Babbar

Life is too short to be spent elaborately analysing non films like this one, so let me cut to the chase. Ishqeria – a title through which ‘writer’-‘director’ Prerna Wadhawan wishes to convey the love sickness of her lead pair – is ordinary, flat and possesses not a single imaginative bone in its entire body. At first I was tempted not to rate it at all but on second thoughts, here you go Richa Chadha and Neil Nitin Mukesh, this 0.5 star is entirely and completely awarded to you for keeping a straight face instead of laughing your heads off on camera throughout this misadventure.

Ishqeria is about Kuhu (Chadha) and Raghav (Mukesh) who meet while studying in Mussoorie. Their college is done up in all the colours of the rainbow, bubblegum and candyfloss, and that is how the girls dress too. She is dowdy and chirpy, he is quiet and elegant. She is a much-mocked fresher, he is the most sought after senior around. She is middle class, he is the son of the wealthiest man in Mussoorie.

Using a strategy devised by her girlie gang, which includes evolving into a stylish hottie, Kuhu manages to draw Raghav’s attention and they fall in love. Each of the characters in this setting has been borrowed from college romances made across film industries a zillion times before. To stir the pot up a bit, a Holi song – once a Bollywood staple – is added to the recipe and one of Kuhu’s friends is made to repeatedly say “tatti” (shit) as some sort of cool signature word. I promise you I am not joking.

We are told right at the start that Raghav is a suffering soul, harbouring a grand grudge against his father. There is a kahaani mein twist involving abortion that connects his past to his present with  Kuhu. Never mind what it is. Abortion is a serious issue, but Ishqeria does not have the intellect to handle it with any degree of depth. Frankly it does not have the anything to handle anything apart from a budget large enough that Wadhawan could afford to cast Chadha, Mukesh and Raj Babbar (as Raghav’s father) plus ensure that the production certainly does not look inexpensive.

Ishqeria switches between the present and seven years earlier when Kuhu and Raghav were in college. Poor Chadha suffers as a consequence, saddled as she is with big curls, a fringe and pigtails by turns in an in-your-face effort to make her look like a teenager. Perhaps she should be grateful that she was not asked to say “tatti” as a refrain to lend coolth to her character.

Barring a couple of initial scenes that Chadha invests with humour when Kuhu is just settling into college life, Ishqeria has nothing to offer. Wadhawan is so clueless that she packs her screenplay with artificial conflicts and an unconvincing resolution. She and her dialogue writer Radhika Anand struggle so hard to sound clever that I started giggling at one point during a conversation which starts with Raghav asking his friend Amit where he might find Kuhu, to which Amit inexplicably replies, “Kuhu koi jadibooti nahin hai jo koi dukaan mein milegi” (Kuhu is not a herb that you might expect to find in a shop). I gathered from the exchange that followed, that this might have been his way of asking, “Why would you ask me?” or “Why the hell should I tell you?” Or maybe it was a profoundly philosophical observation and I missed the meaning. Whatever.

Since the choice of title indicates that Ms Wadhawan is interested in disease names, perhaps she could come up with a term for the affliction that causes some people to think that any Tom, Dick or Prerna with the necessary funds has the ability to make a good film.

Rating (out of five stars): 1/2

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
118 minutes 

This review has also been published on Firstpost:

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