Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat Movie Review: An interesting concept let down by a botched-up execution

Story: Two parallel love stories run concurrently – one in Dalhousie, another in London. Both doomed.

Amrita (Alaya F.) is a charming and bubbly schoolgirl, whose life revolves around watching movies by secretly taking DVDs from a local shop owner’s son Yaqub (Karan Mehta), making funny Ting Tong videos under a disguise and tuning in to DJ Mohabbat’s podcasts. She adores the DJ and her only mission in life is to attend his hotshot Holi party at a secret location in the hills. But before she could make plans, her conservative Hindu family puts her under house arrest for spending time with the neighbourhood Muslim boy, who in their opinion, “pehle mohabbat dikhate hain, phir Jannat.” Blinded by their passion for DJ Mohabbat’s music, the two youngsters elope from home, setting off a chain of events that are sure to not end well. In a parallel world, Yaqub’s lookalike Harmeet (Karan Mehta) is trying hard to make his mark as a budding musician, but just then Ayesha (Alaya F.), a rich spoilt daughter of a London-based Pakistani businessman starts crushing and obsessing over him, to a point that her actions start affecting his life adversely. Strangely, she is the exact lookalike of Amrita but none of them are related.

It’s an interesting concept and oftentimes there are moments of thrill and unpredictability when you don’t know what is going to happen. Anurag Kashyap’s story is layered too, but never comes together in a cohesive manner. Instead, it seems like it’s trying to tackle too many issues without much conviction. From love jihad to same sex marriages and patriarchal, dysfunctional families to differences due to caste, religion and social inequality – it’s all there but none explored and executed in a way that it leaves a lasting impact on your mind. The film constantly switches between the dimly lit streets and pubs of London and the snowed out mountainous terrains of Himachal. Amit Trivedi’s unconventional music and Shellee’s funky lyrics (like ‘Mohabbat se Kranti’ and ‘Ghanghor Connection’) feel young, fresh and relevant to the story, but for a musical, the overall score isn’t up to the mark. We doubt if you will retain any of the many songs, after you leave the theatre.

Vicky Kaushal as DJ Mohabbat is interesting and the actor seems to be enjoying the quirks of his character, which he reprises from his 2018 film ‘Manmarziyan’. Newcomer Karan Mehta is confident onscreen and shows promise. At times, he does go overboard as Harmeet and his fake laughter act is downright annoying. Alaya F., as always, does a fine job of breathing life into her role and the actor is equally good in her glam and de-glam avatars. From a rebellious, small town schoolgirl, who goes against her male-dominated family to a brash and hopelessly-in-love Londoner – Alaya is brilliant in both her roles.

Overall, it’s a love story fraught with regular societal challenges and clichés, told in a unique way. But beyond that it falls woefully short of making this film an entertaining and a deeply engaging experience. Like Alaya’s character Amrita tells Yaqub after their long and arduous journey, “Na koi plan hai, na purpose” – well, our thought precisely.

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