Ishaqzaade is a small town love story of a loud ruffian, Parma Chauhan (Arjun Kapoor) and a feisty, college student Zoya Qureshi (Parineeti Chopra). Due to their political differences, the Chauhans and Qureshis are sworn enemies and Parma and Zoya’s romantic dalliance simply doesn’t fit into the grand scheme of things. How Parma, a Hindu boy, and Zoya, a Muslim girl, fall in love and become the hunted, with one, big shocking twist is the story of Ishaqzaade.
Ishaqzaade is nothing you haven’t seen or heard already: the old Romeo-Juliet romance reworked into a small town setting with guns and gore, Yash Raj style. Throw in some French kissing, colourful swearing, street fighting, a righteous mother and some songs and you have Ishaqzaade - love in the times of small town politics.
The screenplay is jagged throughout with inexplicable action of characters, and the characters behaving the way they do, is confusing.
Parma’s best friends turning against him or Zoya’s doting father trying to kill his beloved daughter or Parma’s liaison with the dancing star of the local brothel are just some of the examples where the depth of their characters should have been explored a bit more to justify their sacrificial or aggressive actions. Many whys and hows are left unanswered but somehow, you want to know what happens to the stormy and passionate romance between Parma and Zoya. Though emotions run high in the film, you don’t feel for any of the characters on screen – whether they’re crying or dying.
Arjun Kapoor, son of film producer Boney Kapoor and his late ex-wife, Mona, makes an impressive debut in the film as Parma. Arjun plays Parma with the right amount of boisterousness and roadside hero-giri, wearing track pants with Dabanng written across the derriere, flexing his biceps and spewing cuss words like it was second skin to his urban-bred self. When the story turns, he ably plays a softer version of the selfish and crass Parma. He is relaxed and at ease in front of the camera and that helps heighten his performance.
Parineeti is very endearing in her role as the gun-wielding Zoya in the film. Even though her character is not well-etched out, with her turning from a fearless Zoya into a gullible fool for love - Parineeti proves her worth in the role as an extremely capable actress.
Gauhar Khan who plays Chand baby, the local whore, dances like a dream in her song-and-dance routine in the film.
The film builds the fictitious town of Almore, and keeps within its rustic parameters, without resorting to sudden changes in landscapes as is wont in most Bollywood films, especially during song picturisations. The camera work is deft in the film and the melodious soundtrack, especially the Pareshan track, aids the visual beauty of the film. The credit of the authentic look and feel of the film goes to producer Aditya Chopra and writer and director Habib Faisal. Ishaqzaade though, is no Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak or Ek Duje Ke Liye as far as star crossed love stories go.