Cast: Anupam Kher, Parineeti Chopra, Aditya Roy Kapur
Director: Habib Faisal
Daawet-e-Ishq is the equivalent of an elaborate meal that begins with a mouth-watering appetiser but slowly loses flavour, aroma and deliciousness, so that by the time you reach dessert, you are exhausted, disappointed and badly in need of fresh air.
None of the actors can rise above the muddled script. They are serving a story that derails early and never gets back on track.
Writer-director Habib Faisal begins beautifully. We meet Gulrez, played by Parineeti Chopra. She is a gold medallist and basketball champion who can’t find a husband because her father, a clerk two years away from retirement, can’t afford the dowry being demanded by any half-decent groom.
Gulu is beautiful, spirited, accomplished and yet her father desperately displays her many medals to potential sons-in-law. Habib perfectly captures the humour and sadness of the situation. Her father, whom she calls Booji (played by Anupam Kher), is bent over with helplessness. Their relationship and the textures of their home, clothes, even tiffin boxes is exactly right.
And then, quite suddenly, the film switches tracks. Gulrez concocts a scheme to avenge herself on these dowry-seeking grooms and fulfill her plans to study in America. Booji reluctantly agrees. Both change names, clothes and cities. The action shifts to Lucknow, where Gulrez meets Tariq, played by Aditya Roy Kapur. Tariq is a master chef and restaurant owner. He failed Class 12 but, armed with attitude and delicious kebabs, melts Gulrez’s hardened heart.
By this time, however, what was authentic and moving has become convoluted and tedious. We move further and further from reality and logic as Gulrez implements her scheme to make money by trapping a dowry-seeker. None of the actors can rise above the muddled script. Parineeti is sparkling. Aditya has a rough-hewn char m. Anupam is genuinely moving. But they are serving a story that derails early and never gets back on track.
Habib has a great talent for creating an authentic smalltown atmosphere. He has an eye for detail. His previous films, like Do Dooni Chaar, have beautifully captured the small victories of middle-class Indian lives. But Dawat-e-Ishq is a misstep.