One might best have the best of intentions, but can sometimes be blinded to the pitfalls in its single-minded pursuit. ‘Ishq’ has quite a laudable intent at its heart – to deliver a message against the rampant moral policing in the State. But, along the way, in showing how to respond or take revenge on the perverts who become moral goons, it unintentionally celebrates another kind of evil.
- Direction: Anuraj Manohar
- Starring: Shane Nigam, Ann Sheetal, Shine Tom Chacko
Sachi (Shane Nigam), an IT employee, takes his girlfriend Vasudha (Ann Sheetal), a college student, on a day-long trip on her birthday. Before long, the couple gets targeted by two moral goons on prowl in the city (played in a chillingly realistic manner by Shine Tom Chacko and Jafar Idukki).
Director Anuraj Manohar, making his debut, lets this moral policing sequence play out over a good part of the first half. He seems to be pointing at the mentality of the moral goons, who draw pleasure from the helplessness of their victims and revel in piling on their agony. But Ratheesh Ravi’s script begins unravelling after the initial moments of tension, as the attempted mental torture of the couple becomes repetitive. Sachi’s character also lacks consistency. Here is a guy who, at the beginning of the film threatened a man for just looking at his girlfriend, caving in meekly and doing the bidding of a goon, even after the worst of provocations.
But it is in the second half, dedicated to an elaborate revenge ritual, that the film loses its own moral compass. At the risk of hinting at a spoiler, it has to be said that the idea of taking revenge on an entire family, including a child, or at least traumatising them, for the doings of a man, is unfortunate. At least some of the audience members, who are obviously opposed to moral policing, clapped at these sequences in cathartic pleasure. The film also celebrates these acts, as is evident from the slow motion visuals of the ‘hero’ walking away and the background music that follows.
The film does redeem itself a bit with a little twist at the end. While Anuraj deserves appreciation for not sticking to a conventional narrative and taking some risks, the script and the revenge part are a let down. This is certainly not how moral policing needs to be fought.