Dir: Shashanka Ghosh
Starring: Fawad Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Kirron Kher, Aamir Raza Hussain, Aditi Rao Hyderi
The Hrishikesh Mukherjee-Rekha 1980 comedy classic is not so much remade or updated but Disney-fied for the Mickey Mouse studio’s first locally produced venture in India. So what you get is a thoroughly predictable rom-com but one that is done well and its charm and the chemistry between the leads carries it over the finish line.
Scatterbrain physiotherapist Mili Chakravarty (Sonam Kapoor) is hired to work for Rajasthani royal (Aamir Raza Hussain) who has lost the use of his legs. She arrives at the palace, run with strict discipline by the family matriarch (Ratna Pathak Shah), and soon has the place upside down with her goofy antics, much to the chagrin of the lady of the house. This, however, doesn’t prevent sparks from flying between Mili and the scion of the royal family, the strait-laced and business-minded Vikram (the character takes a cue from Richard Gere’s Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman). The problem is that Vikram (our own Fawad Khan, making his Mollywood debut) is already betrothed to the charming Kyra (Aditi Rao Hyderi).
But this and all other complications are pretty much resolved as you would expect. So the story line doesn’t really offer anything new. The pacing also slackens here and there (the songs could easily have been done away with) and the resolution of the situation between Vikram and Kyra (I would have liked to have seen more of the attractive and talent Rao Hyderi) is given disappointingly short shrift. However, the appealing performances from Sonam Kapoor (who, thankfully, doesn’t overplay her hand too much) and Fawad Khan (he doesn’t let us down) and the chemistry between the two are real positives. But the movie’s secret weapons are Ratna Pathak (essaying the same role that her mother did in the original) and Kirron Kher (playing the motor-mouth mother of Mili). Pathak is perfection as the wound-up, tradition bound, royal martinet while Kher has done this sort of role many times before but she is so good at it that you really don’t mind her doing it again. The two play brilliantly off each other and their scenes together elicit the movie’s biggest laughs. Director Shashanka Ghosh (his debut film, the darkly comic Waisa Bhi
Hota Hai, Part II with Arshad Warsi is an underappreciated minor nugget) also has a sure hand with comedy and doesn’t try to overly sell you anything. All of which proves (once again) that even formulaic stuff can go down easy if the treatment is right.
Cut to chase: Predictable rom-com but done reasonably, and pleasingly, well.
Dir: Habib Faisal
Starring: Parineeti Chopra, Aditya Roy Kapur, Anupam Kher
From its trailers (admittedly, I don’t pay much attention to any movie’s trailers and teasers), for some reason I thought this movie would be about a comedic clash of Lucknavi and (Indian) Hyderabadi cultures (and cuisines). But while the two cities do serve as the backdrop for this slightly undercooked rom-com from writer/director Habib Faisal (Do Dooni Chaar) and Aditya Roy Kapur’s Tariq is a restaurant owner of a famous Lucknow kebab joint, the movie misses a great opportunity of not playing up these ingredients. You do get a look at the famous sights of Lucknow and Hyderabad but even these seem a bit lacklustre in the hands of cinematographer Himmam Dhamija.
Still, despite its shortcomings, Daawat-e-Ishq is a pleasant enough watch for its first two-thirds driven by the acting chops of its three main cast members, Parineeti Chopra playing Gulrez, the attractive young Hyderabadi daughter of meek, mild-mannered court clerk, Anupam Kher, who Gulrez calls Beejo, and Aditya Roy Kapur. Disappointed in love and by societal norms which imposes the hardship of expensive dowries upon any prospective bride (despite this being made unlawful in India way back in 1961), Gulrez and Beejo embark upon a scheme to get back at greedy prospective grooms and their families. Cue the entry of Lucknow’s flashy and charmingly roguish Tariq. So far so good. But the prospective romance, the inevitable fall-out, and the too-quick resolution does the movie no real favours. This is one movie which could have benefited from an extra 20 minutes of story and some fewer songs (though the soundtrack is passable).
One thing I really did appreciate about Daawat (and, in fact, about the recent Bobby Jasoos as well) is the fact that while its protagonists are all Muslim, religion is actually mostly irrelevant for the movie. These are just Indians who happen to be Muslims, entirely normal people with normal emotions, feelings and aspirations. And that’s nice to see.
Cut to chase: Could have been a delicious dish but remains slightly undercooked.