Director: Habib Faisal
Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Anupam Kher
Rating: 1.5 stars
Something must be said about Bollywood’s generosity of spirit. No matter how lame the script, how mangy the screenplay, and how lackadaisical the director about the whole affair, kindly producers throw money to encase tedious mediocrity in bright, lavish frames.
Without so much as a fleeting thought about whether the film even deserves to be made, they throw money on actors, on their vanity vans, handlers, choreographers, expensive clothes, make-up artists, caterers. They even spend money on marketing this tripe. All without a concern about the world which would be a better place without this energy-sucking, vapid yawn of a film.
Like richie-rich Punjabi daddies, Bollywood producers are well-meaning souls. No matter how much their heart aches at watching their dunderhead daughter and the duffer dude simpering into selfies, they’ll break their FDs and sell off shares to send out gobsmacking gold-leaf invites, arrange a buffet that is a mile long, and hope that no one will notice that this marriage is a screaming disaster.
Like them daddies, Bollywood producers seem to be under some sort of obligation to do their duty no matter how ill-advised the whole enterprise is. Only difference is that after the wedding, daddies don’t sell balcony tickets to the regrettable suhag raat. Bollywood producers, unfortunately, do. They want us to come all dressed up for the show.
Daawat-e-Ishq pulls out all sorts of tricks to distract us from what’s essentially a cureless dud, a no-go, a film which really has a one-to-thousand chance of being remembered for anything except that it got made and got a theatre release. It’s eminently forgettable. Except, maybe, the foods of Lucknow and Hyderabad. Oh those kebabs, and plates of biryani, shahi tukda and jalebi!
Sadly, the delicious food only magnifies how utterly bland the film is.
We are in Hyderabad again, where, just like Bobby Jasoos, Gulrez Qadir or Gulu (Parineeti Chopra) lives with her daddy, Booji (Anupam Kher), in a house that has a clear view of the Charminar. Gulu, a scooty-riding smarty, is of marriageable age. This school topper is a shoe saleswoman in a mall because she loves shoes and wants to become a shoe designer. Her aptitude for designing footwear remains hidden. What is showcased is her interest in a famous dowry case in the high court where her father is a senior clerk.
Gulu’s interest in dowry stems from the fact that she and her daddy are repeatedly humiliated by families of prospective grooms because they can’t pay the sort of money that’s demanded. But that’s not why she often rejects boys. She rejects them because they are not worth the price tag attached to them.
Neither Gulu nor her dad are against dowry per se. They would just like a boy worth their money. For a film that makes dowry and Section 498A its rallying cry, this is rather warped.
Anyway, love happens in the mall, but the boy is too wimpy to stand up to his greedy parents. All this is just too heart-breaking, especially because the boy had kindled Gulu’s dreams of going to America and studying shoe designing.
I’ll show you boys, Gulu decides, and comes up with the most hare-brained plan. It involves taking all of her daddy’s savings and posing as a bride from Dubai in search of a groom. Profiles are posted and meetings are arranged with the hidden camera on recording mode. The plan is not just to name and shame, but to blackmail after getting married.
So off they go to Lucknow where Sania Habibulla meets Tariq Haider (Aditya Roy Kapoor) of Haideri Kebabs.
Tariq’s restaurant is too tacky a set to be Tunday Kababi, but what’s lacking in flavour is made up, somewhat, by the big, burly Tariq’s twinkling, kohled eyes and impish charm. He’s adorable. And very different from the other dowry-seeking doofuses.
So what do you think will happen — will Gulu and Booji pull off their scam and fly off to America, or will love curdle all plans?
Fatties and foodies beware! You will hate Daawat-e-Ishq, especially if you are a non, as in non-veg. Throughout the film you’ll be squirming and wondering: “Should I just ditch the film, my diet, my date and run out and bury my face in the nearest biryani handi?” If you do, you’ll get your money’s worth. If you don’t, then, well, squirm.
I hope all this talk of food isn’t giving you the idea that writer-director Habib Faisal’s nonsensical Daawat-e-Ishq is some great food film. The film is neither invested or interested in the culinary skills of Awadh, or the flavours of Hyderabad. It just shows us lots of food and all of it is had with communicable saliva sounds.
Take away that and you are left with a film that’s so vapid that it makes you want to scream, “Waiter, manager ko bulao!”
In the film’s dull menu the only item of interest is Aditya Roy Kapoor. Despite the complete lack of reciprocity from Parineeti, he is able to get intimate with her and turn the screen into a pool of feelings. He makes you want to be in love. Parineeti is a charming and competent actress but now she’s getting repetitive and boring. And here she isn’t even invested in her role. Her Hyderabadi accent comes and goes, like the fluctuating talent of Anupam Kher.