Bollywood might have closed dowry case files but the social evil continues to raise its ugly head. No community or class can say that it is free from the malevolent practice. With “Dulha Bikta Hai” becoming a normal practice among the paying public, mainstream filmmakers who usually look for the unusual also lost interest.
Director Habib Faisal, who has knack for documenting social churning, updates us with the forms the human greed has taken in the society in the times of Facebook and 498A. Yes, the section of Indian Penal Code which empowers women to strike back in dowry cases. But are some of them using the tool to service their self interest? These are some of the concerns that Habib puts across in a cute little film that impresses with its progressive approach without turning into a lesson in moral science.
Full of spunk Gulrez (Parineeti Chopra) lives with her clerk father (Anupam Kher) in a downtown Muslim neighbourhood in Hyderabad. Fed up of the dowry business, Gulrez decides to dupe unsuspecting boys with 498A to fund her American dream. Her honest father hesitates but ultimately gives in. They shift to Lucknow with a new identity. Among the proposals there is Tariq Haider (Aditya Roy Kapoor), whose cocky attitude and culinary business makes him an ideal candidate. But then the aroma of love spreads without notice and we are in for a delectable ride.
If you get down to the nuts and bolts, the narrative is reverse of Faisal’s “Ishaqzaade”. There the boy fell in love with the girl he was expected to torment and here the girl loses her heart to the boy she is eager to dupe but the storytelling and performances make the journey worth taking.
Written with a lot of care, the nuances in the dialect and the moments in father-daughter relationship entice us to suspend disbelief. Honest performance by Kher and Chopra ensures that there is never a manufactured moment between the two as Habib shows us a Muslim family of today’s India without making a show of it as some kind of Muslim social baulking under the pressure of customs and values. Gulrez has plans to move out form the ghettos to Jubilee hills. There is no Eid in the film but yes there is Holi in its diverse hues. It is this liberal tone that fills you with hope. One had doubts about Aditya transforming into a Lucknow lad but he doesn’t disappoint. The only concern is that after a point you know where it is headed and the songs don’t help in taking you away from the hows and whys. It is the food that plays that supporting part. Habib has a knack for bringing food into his stories and here he turns it into cupid. The use of culinary props is novel and the interplay of kababs and biryani is appetising. Indulge!
Bottomline:A relevant social message delivered in an entertaining fashion.