Daawat-e-Ishq

daawat-e-ishq-poster

Daawat-e-Ishq
Release date: September 19, 2014
Directed by: Habib Faisal
Cast: Anupam Kher, Parineeti Chopra, Aditya Roy Kapur, Karan Wahi

A setup so good that you don’t want to hate the bad bits. That is how Daawat-e-Ishq is built up. It doesn’t have much to do with food either.

Daawat-e-Ishq plays up the concerns of a middle-class Muslim family in the technologically advanced and socially spiraling city of Hyderabad, and it warns you right at the start of the film with a disclaimer. Detailing the intricate bond of the single father-daughter duo of Abbu ji, shortened to Buji (Anupam Kher) and Gulrez shortened to Gullu (Parineeti Chopra), down to them having their nicknames imprinted on their coffee mugs, perhaps from a mall kiosk. Gullu drops her father at the Court and talks of her dreams on their scooter rides. Gullu was a state topper in academics and brilliant in basketball, but all of that doesn’t count for anything in the world of matrimony and sales.

The world of matrimony and sales is painted with caricatures, perhaps in an attempt at keeping the mood light and not too bogged down by the theme. For major parts of the film, right until the halfway mark, they succeed. From the uneducated ones to the ones aspiring for a masters degree in the United States, everyone throws the same condition for marriage. Gullu takes this as a personal insult and begs her father to join her in turning the tables on the suitors around India. Some emotional hogwash helps in turning Buji on Gullu’s side and they concoct a plan to avenge the ignominy imposed upon them by countless families and years of blindly followed stupid tradition.

Many grave realities are dealt with in an offhanded and satirical matter-of-fact manner. All of these realities in themselves can create subplots of their own, but they are kept grounded to make the film seem like a grand con job. And Parineeti and Kher transform into another persona for that con job very well. The real racewinning chemistry is here between them, even the romantic pairings of Chopra-Karan Wahi or Chopra-Kapur fade in comparison.

Ranging between being goody-too goody and compromising their moral fiber, almost all the involved characters have a shade of grey looming around them. The miniscule hints of circumstantial wit is evident throughout the movie, like for when Kapur, a restaurant owner from Lucknow disses the biryani from Hyderabad by calling it zeher and yet licking his fingertips. The delivery and timing of Kher, Chopra and Kapur are laced with local flavors from Hyderabad and Lucknow and they don’t get out of their character for even once.

Out of the songs used, although a bit tedious at times, I loved the placement of the title track and the qawwaali used in a mild chase sequence is a piece of oddball comedy. If I were to give you a review only until that title track, this review would have been a bit shorter and also less critical of the main conflict, which is over-simplified to keep everything sweet, simple and cute, and that only proves to be the film’s undoing. The spunk dies out and cheesy overdrawn cliches unveil themselves towards the end.

Daawat-e-Ishq is a well-intentioned film, which gets only pulled down by its own reluctance at being anything more than just that. It’s your easy watch, only you start feeling too overfilled with it.

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5)

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