"Issaq" a romantic film based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" play has received mixed reactions from critics upon its release. The half-baked story and loose editing has failed to impress the critics.
The film stars Prateik Babbar, Amyra Dastur, Rajeshwari Sachdev, Ravi Kishan and Makarand Deshpande in lead roles, while Evelyn Sharma and Prashant Narayanan play supporting characters.
"Issaq" is directed by Manish Tiwary and produced by Dhaval Gada and Shailesh R. Singh.
Check out the critics' reviews here:
Taran Adrash of Bollywood Hungama writes: "The story is set in Banaras and its neigbouring areas that are witness to violence unleashed by sand mafia controlled by two warring factions -- Mishras and Kashyaps. Kashyap has an 18-year old, pretty daughter Bachchi [Amyra Dastur] from his first wife, while Mishra's son Rahul [Prateik] is a good-looking teenager with predictable interests for a boy of his background -- girls and guns. Things change when Rahul and Bachchi fall in love. Disregarding the consequences, the young lovers choose to go ahead with the diktats of their hearts...
"ISSAQ banks heavily on guns and violence, as is the demand of the script. Even though the screenplay tilts towards the blooming romance of the lovebirds, it's actually the gun-yielding men and the scheming woman [aptly played by Rajeshwari Sachdeva], who tend to leave an everlasting impact.
"Even though the territory of the script is known to all, it's the screenplay that keeps the film moving frame by frame. The narrative does get lengthy and stretched at times, courtesy the loose editing at places. Had the editing been crisper, it would have left an indelible impression for sure. While the first half of the film is slow moving and uneven, the post-interval portions are a bit stretched. In fact, the film gathers momentum only after the attacks on Amit Sial and Ravi Kishan.
"On the whole, ISSAQ is absorbing and convincing in parts, not in entirety. The final outcome could've been even more impactful had it not been stretched."
Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV writes: "Set in the back lanes, mansions and ghats of Benaras, the film focusses on a clash between pure love and the lust for power. The result is disastrous - as much for the two families involved in the fictional fracas as for the film that seeks to re-imagine the Bard's classic scenario in a contemporary desicontext.
"Issaq parlays the powerful dramatic directness of 'Romeo and Juliet' into a more twisted rendition of human frailties as they play out in the complex socio-political cauldron of Benaras.
"Quite apart from not being able to get a firm handle on the serious issues that are at stake in this narrative, Issaq falls well short of capturing the sizzling passion that lay at the heart of the Romeo and Juliet love story.
"The fact that the lead pair of Prateik Babbar and debutante Amyra Dastur does not seem to share any palpable on-screen chemistry does not help the film's cause.
"Issaq, which runs for nearly two and a half hours, suffers from an overload of plots and sub-plots that are peopled with sketchily fleshed out characters that walk into the frame abruptly and vanish just as hastily.
"All that Issaq manages to be, despite all the sparkling compositions that the cinematographer strings together, is an unconvincing story of ill-fated love. It is not at all easy to sit through."
Mohar Basu of Koimoi.com writes: "Issaq was indeed a thorough waste. With such a promising idea, the film's pseudo-artistic style of narration is half baked and dishonest. Barring a few picturesque shots that encapsulate the fascinating charm of Benaras, the film has absolutely nothing more to boast of. Even if you have a lot of time to spare, avoid this; it comes with the price of aspirin.
"There are too many cracks in the film's script. Trying to elucidate the tale of two families who have a history of rivalry between them, the writers unnecessarily adds a communist angle to it, almost to enrage you.
"Prateik is dismally misfit in the role of Rahul. Amyra Dastur is fine as the coy Bacchi but then again, her character wasn't well etched out giving her a sketchy personality to work off.
"Issaq is a tedious film which retells the story of amateur love. A flaky plot and wavering narrative makes Issaqa novel concept that is compromised at the altar of the director's need to prove his artistic bent. I am going with a 2/5 for this one. Those precious 2 hours of my life are never returning! What a tragedy - for me!"
Subhash K. Jha of IANS writes: "Nothing prepares you for this. The bludgeoning impact of director Manish Tiwary's desi Varanasi must-see adaptation of William Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' would have certainly made Shakespeare smile.
"With considerable support from his co-writers Padmaja Thakore-Tiwary and Pawan Soni, Manish Tiwary has written a raw, rugged and rapacious 'Romeo and Juliet', which has no 'Balcony Scene' (thank god!) and yes, Juliet remains a proud virgin till the end. The deviations apart, 'Issaq' is a frightfully fertile film filled with images of rancour and tenderness.
"A sense of desperate longing runs through this adrenaline-pumping drama driven forward by a cast of actors who know there is something vital happening here.
"This is one of the most innovative adaptations of Romeo & Juliet in any language."