Saturday, September 20, 2014


Foodie Romance

Habib Faisal whose best work so far is his directorial debut Do Dooni Char, and the script for Band Baaja Baaraat, comes up with an almost tasty dish of a movie, with maybe just a crucial ingredient missing that prevents it from tasting right.

The heroine of his Daawat-e-Ishq  is Gulrez, the always feisty Parineeti Chopra, far more convincing as a middle-class girl with upwardly mobile ambitions than Sonam Kapoor in this week’s other release, Khoobsurat. She is studying in college and working as a shoe salesgirl, because she has a passion for shoes and dreams of going to the US to learn footwear designing. Her father Abdul Qadir (Anupam Kher) is an honest court clerk, and eager to get her married before he retires.

The biggest hitch is his inability to pay the hefty dowry bridegrooms demand. Here’s one of the film’s problems—it does not take a strong enough anti-dowry stand.  Neither father nor daughter are against dowry per se, they are against the excessive demands by the grooms’ families.

Fed-up of being rejected, even by the man (Karan Wahi) she falls in love with, for lack of dowry, Gulrez hatches the scheme of ensnaring a rich groom, then trapping him in a dowry case and making enough money to get her to America.  And here’s the other big problem, the film advocates misuse of dowry laws, that are meant to protect hapless victims.

Gulrez pretends to be Sania Habibullah from Dubai, parks herself and her father in a Lucknow five-star to interview potential suitors.  One of them is Tariq Haider (Aditya Roy Kapur), owner of Lucknow’s most famous kebab and biryani restaurant.  Since he is the richest, he is picked for the con, but after the three days of courtship that he demands—and this is no spoiler—Gulrez falls in love with him. He is incredibly generous, considerate, handsome and smart (why wasn’t he snapped earlier?)

Faisal keeps the tone light and the romance frothy, but there is always the undercurrent of deception that is unpleasant.  If a bright and talented girl was encouraged to fight dowry in a straightforward manner, and not resort to crime, the film would have resonated strongly with young women. The propaganda element is not dulled here, just made unsavoury.

Still, at least Habib Faisal tries to tackle a problem that refuses to go away, in spite of all the progress Indian woman have made. That, and the lead pair’s performances, make this one worth a look.


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