The agenda of the movie Ishq is somewhere to create awareness about the emotional repercussions of the moral policing practice that has been making news and yet continuing in our state. What is truly impressive about this Anuraj Manohar directorial is the fact that it manages to go beyond the tit for tat justice pattern and ultimately addresses the real solution to the problem, which is the mentality and the general dated concept of purity.
Sachi and Vasudha are the main protagonists here. They are in a relationship and only a couple of weeks before Sachi’s sister’s wedding, the couple decided to celebrate Vasudha’s birthday along with a long drive. The romantic drive faces a roadblock when two bigots decided to harass the couple for breaking the moral code of conduct. How the couple overcomes this incident, the impact it leaves on them and the reaction to this dreadful incident is what Ishq showing us.
The entire first half of the movie is dedicated to showing the horrific experience the couple faced. And when the first half ended, two ladies presumably in their 60’s made a loud comment; “Kids will still do such things even after watching a movie like this”.
As a human being, that’s so disheartening to hear. A writer addresses a social evil in his script, a director tries to make it look as real as possible, terrific acting really gives us chills seeing the harassment and the reaction is as pathetic as blaming the girl for her dressing sense rather than the molester’s mentality. The second half of the movie is actually the cinematic sweet spot of this film. We have seen familiar scenarios of moral policing in movies. But the second half of Ishq is where Ratheesh Ravi explains his stand on the whole issue. I did clap for the tactical moves made by the hero as it definitely made the antagonist regret his action. And just when the motive of the hero looked problematic, the tail end of the movie shows us what exactly the real venom in this whole situation is.
For the actor in Shane Nigam, Sachi is a challenge and a variety. The character has three shades; one is of the jovial and cool loverboy, the next is of the lover in agony in managing a situation and the last one is the way the same guy reacts to the situation. And I must say that Shane uses his usual expressions and new ones smartly and stays true to the character. Ann Sheetal as Vasudha portrays both situations through which the character goes through effectively. A bit more fluency in dubbing would have made it even more beautiful. The stand out performance here, in my opinion, was Shine Tom Chacko as the antagonist. Just like how you may have felt like punching Asif Ali after seeing Uyare, you may want to punch Shine Tom Chacko on the face after watching Ishq. There is amazing ease in his performance and that does make him a venomous villain. Leona Leshoy was impressive. Jaffer Idukki delivered a subtle performance. Even minor screen time characters like that of Mala Parvathy and Swasika looked so real.
As a director, I feel Anuraj Manohar does know how intelligent the audiences are. The writing of Ratheesh Ravi also helps him in that process. Just when you think why don’t Sachi just run away from this, the makers block that chance using practical hurdles. In a recent interview, Ratheesh Ravi said that it was their loud statement against moral policing. Well, I must say that Anuraj Manohar has done a terrific job in minimizing the loudness of the Ratheesh Ravi concept. The way the movie establishes the inexperienced Sachi’s modus operandi for revenge makes the emotional impact on him so relatable. And like I already mentioned, the purity oriented male mentality gets criticized in the harshest of ways possible and if that scene is received with claps, I would say the society might well be in the correct direction. The movie also has that backtracking quality as it shows all the flaws of our hero as a humorous character trait and that does make sense when you re-read the script. Ansarsha’s work will occasionally remind you of the way Rajeev Ravi frames his visuals. The music by Jakes Bejoy and Gowry Lakshmi merges with the narrative and the background score was used effectively. The edits by Kiran Das, especially in the second half sequences featuring Shane Nigam, Shine Tom Chacko, and Leona Lishoy was totally gripping, pretty much giving the movie the tone of a thriller.
Ishq is a good example of how to make a message oriented film. Apart from a small dialogue from Shane Nigam towards the end of the film, there is hardly any spoon feeding here and what you get is an impactful cinema powered by solid performances and craft filled making.
There is hardly any spoon feeding here and what you get is an impactful cinema powered by solid performances and craft filled making.