Habib Faisal, the writer-director of Daawat-E-Ishq gave us the brilliant Band Baaja Baaraat (2010-he wrote it), the phenomenal Do Dooni Chaar (2010) and the arguably interesting Ishaqzaade (2012). After watching his latest works, including Bewakoofiyaan, which came earlier this year and now Daawat-E-Ishq, one must wonder if he has completely lost track of good screenwriting or not. Both the films this year have been extremely sub-standard and put a serious question mark on him. From the first look itself, I did not expect much out of DEI, the songs did not work as YRF may have imagined them to and the film exuded a thanda vibe overall. Not much of that is changed even when you watch the film as it looks a hurried half cooked recipe of a delicious idea. Yes, Daawat-E-Ishq is a dud for most parts. This review may have spoilers and so that was the word of caution. Usually, I tend to avoid spoilers but some appalling fallacies cannot be brought to light without mentioning them.
Gulrez, a Hyderabadi girl, and her father, played by Anupam Kher, work hard everyday to make ends meet for their little lower middle class family. Gulrez is well-educated, can speak in English, has a flair for good food and dreams big, but most of her dreams are quashed by the ravaging dowry system as her father tries to marry her off against the exorbitant demands of the groom’s side. Frustrated, she hatches a plan to fish for a susceptible target, Tariq, and charge him and his family for extortion of dowry under the Indian Penal Code, eventually making a settlement from their end and annulling the marriage. Even when she pulls of the con job successfully, Tariq’s love overpowers her. Clean cut, fresh and likable. Not many Indian films have been able to successfully integrate food into their narratives, and while Faisal predisposes himself to do so, his screenplay never exploits the faculties established through food.
What remains is an air view of the world of food, set against two of the renowned cities for delicacies, Hyderabad and Lucknow. This superficiality transpires heavily to other themes of the film as well, and even though Faisal seems to be taking himself lightly, he is pretending to deal with a serious issues. Ultimately, it is the audience that feels shortchanged in the exercise. Most of the key plot points look contrived and unconvincing in DEI. Why does Gulrez go ahead with the plan even she knows she is falling for Tariq? How does the sudden heart change happen? How does Tariq forgive her so easily? These, and so many more key elements make DEI look like a very superficial film with no depth in its characters. Whats good is that Faisal has a nuanced understanding of these cities and roots the characters and their stories very efficiently in reality. The fine grains of simple people who make mistakes while doing wrong things are well captured and one does experience some ingenuine moments of Ishq, if not of Daawat.
Produced by Yash Raj Films, Daawat-E-Ishq is mounted on a large scale with a larger than life feel. It still hurts to see that they have possibly shot the whole climax sequence of a train station at a fake recreated set of the same using green screen. I may be wrong here but the whole sequence made me cringe back in my set. If you are trying to capture food as it is eaten in those cities, you have to shoot at real locations. Sadly, the faking does not work well here. Himman Dhamija’s cinematography is ordinary, while Meghna Sen’s Editing is spot on with a runtime of just less than 2 hours.
The best thing about Daawat-E-Ishq is Aditya Roy Kapoor. Walking into the film, that is the last thing I would have imagined to say in my review. Despite a world of girls swooning over him, I have never liked Kapoor’s acting chops. In DEI, he decides to change my view by a striking improvement in his performance. For the lead actor to appear on screen 40 minutes into the runtime, he captures your attention with his earnest act right away. Parineeti Chopra, sadly enough, brings nothing new to the plate from what she has already done many times before. Anupam Kher suffers from a badly written role. Karan Wahi is charming.
On the whole, Daawat-E-Ishq is a dull fare with the exciting moments being far and few. It all looks too easy as Faisal takes liberties, and it gets confusing if you think of what motivated the characters to do what they do. Wikipedia says the film has been made on a budget of Rs 40Cr. If that be true, it would be hard for YRF to recover that kind of money just from the Box Office, even when its taken a decent start. Unfortunately, the whole film feels very bland and a misfire in the right direction. Faisal badly needs to get his act together and come back with some aces. Parineeti definitely needs to stop getting typecast, she does not owe her life to YRF to sign on films blindly. Aditya can only go up from here and he must make sure he does. And as for you all, you can skip this one!
Rating – 1.5/5