What keeps Ishqiya above the schlock is a good screenplay and mature direction. The story in a single sentence pitch is not something very original. Two friends fleeing from their crime boss are pitted against each other when they both fall for a widow. But she may be having other plans for them… We have seen similar stories about ‘the mysterious woman’ before.
Of course there is a twist in the end but the saving grace of the film is the way in which the screenplay has kept everything precise and intelligent. Here characters don’t spell every thing out on screen just because writer fears that otherwise audience wont understand what is going on. You don’t see every event unfolding from beginning to end but often you cut away to another scene once you realise what is going to be obvious conclusion of the current one. One example is where the two guys steal an auto rickshaw full of gas cylinders. They are arguing whether to go back or escape. We see them both looking at the auto rickshaw in confusion. They don’t talk or argue about stealing it. Finally Arshad Warsi shoots into the air. End of scene.
That kind of subtlety is what Hindi cinema desperately need. Another issue is that for a country where more than 70% live in villages, it’s absurd that 90% of Hindi movies are love stories of millionaires living in USA and Europe. In that perspective, Ishqiya is a breath of fresh air. Also for the realisation that sometimes casting actors rather than good looking faces will be simply enough to save your film from appearing plastic.