The bumbling thieving duo are back, the setting is yet again small town India. After a necklace heist and cop chase, Khalu and Babban get separated, only to confront each other at a poetry recitation contest. Khalu falls for his old crush, a Begum of distinguished (now impoverished) lineage, Babban is seething again in lust for the Begum's consort. Add a madcap suitor to the mix, his cronies and a coerced poet with Italian origins, Dedh Ishqiya has the funniest, ribald humour and wisecracks all within the frame of dense vocabulary. The thoughtfully placed subtitles are of much audience aid.
There are stretched bits in the Madhuri Dixit dance idolization, and a limp gun bursting climax where nobody seems to be aiming bullets at anybody. But when the graves are dug and last wishes uttered, director Abhishek Chaubey leaves us with much entertainment and multiple guffaws.
Dedh Ishqiya is a well-made sequel that doesn't rest on the weight of its predecessor. Apart from the duo of Khalu (Naseeruddin Shah, excellent diction, poise) and Babban (Arshad Warsi, sparkling), we have Begum Para (Welcome back Madhuri), her consort (Huma Qureshi, good), a possessive maniac (Vijay Raaz steals the show, almost) and the splendour of the Urdu language. A motley group of colourful cameos abound the derelict, dusty scenery. The jokes are contemporary life images and also satirical, the twists are all plausible. The Vishal Bharadwaj / Gulzar combo adds to the sheen.
Dedh Ishqiya is certainly a recommended watch on 70mm.