There are two different films tucked away into this one big under-cooked biryani of a film.
Daawat-e-Ishq is not as inviting as the title or the film's promotional events suggested. Food is important to the plot, yes. And hats off to writer-director Habib Faisal for tempering the texture of the tale with a culinary flavor!
You wish food was the driving force in this freewheeling tale of love during the times of biryani and bachchanalia. But no, this is not really a film about food. It's about a Muslim girl's search for a life beyond finding a suitable match. At least that is what the plot seems to suggest.
Faisal's special gift as a filmmaker is to portray the Indian middleclass in all its squalid glory. He doesn't sweep the murk under the threadbare carpet. He takes on the quirks, guilts and the conflicts of the 'middle class' headlong.
Till a certain point the narrative in Daawat-e-Ishq tells us some pungent home truths about the 'over-educated' unmarried middleclass girl's plight as she is forced to squeeze into an arranged marriage.
Anupam Kher and Parineeti Chopra are so convincing as father and daughter looking for a suitable groom that you tend to forgive the film's aggressive indiscretions that prop up prominently and intrusively in the second-half. Yes, there are two films here. The 'Hyderabad' film in the first-half is charming effusive and endearing. The second movement takes us to Lucknow where father and daughter put up a big con show to trap an unsuspecting dulha for Parineeti.
As the plot progresses it is tragic to see the film's early excellence fall apart piece by piece to reveal a plot with little character accommodating characters with a big plot up their sleeve. Everyone behaves as if he or she is part of a high-school play based on H S Rawail's Mere Mehboob. They run around exchanging giggle, kebabs and qawwallis. Sajid-Wajid's music a homage to the sound of Laxmikant - Pyarelal in the 1970s... or is a straight ripoff?
The purpose and intention of doing a film that involves dowry and deception cannot be doubted. Habib Faisal means well. Alas, his storytelling doesn't convince us of his intentions.
Performance-wise Parineeti Chopra and Anupam Kher are a delight. Parineeti again proves herself a natural-born scene-stealer. That's relatively easy when your co-star is hell bent on being a caricature. Aditya Roy Kapoor with his kohl-laden eyes and pseudo-Lucknowi drawl is a disaster. His painfully self-conscious performance reduces the film to a pantomime of good intentions.
I came away with the baap-beti relationship rather than the love story. As for food, I craved for more.
Burp re burp!
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