Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat Review: Alaya F impresses in Anurag Kashyap’s romantic drama that loses its way in the second half
Film: Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat
Cast: Alaya F, Karan Mehta, Vicky Kaushal
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Bollywood Bubble rating: 2.5 stars
Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat Review:
I am a viewer who enjoys Anurag Kashyap brand of cinema. It has an edge that gets me quite intrigued as an audience. With Almost Pyaar, I went in expecting the same kick, but I left a little conflicted. I saw Anurag’s style of cinema on screen only in a few parts, rest of the time it felt like the film was trying to do a little too much.
Anurag here is telling two parallel love stories. There are some similarities as well as differences in them when it comes to love. As he said it in my interview, it’s his take on modern day romance. After finishing the movie, I had some praise points but some complaints as well. At the interval point when I got up, I was charged up and excited as the build up offered in the first half had me wanting to know more. I already had a headline in mind for my review. But as I returned to my seat, I was unfortunately let down a little.
The film tries to tackle too much, but then leave a lot of it incomplete or just touched those issues superficially. One thing Anurag had said to me was that parents are the ‘invisible villains’ in today’s generation’s love, and that is something he was able to show quite effectively, but then there were issues like homophobia, casteism, religious discrimination, love jihad, classism and a lot more that was just touched and let go.
What elevates the film is the performances, especially Alaya’s. But the execution just left me a little confused by the end.
Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat tells two modern day love stories side by side. One is a small town romance between Amrita and Yakub, set in Dalhousie while the other is a big city love between Ayesha and Harmeet in London. The key joining them is their adulation for DJ Mohabbat and his philosophy of love. How a family’s ‘so-called’ reputation takes precedence over the emotions of love even in today’s time is the theme explored through the movie, while the young people try to explore what they want in life.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s the performances that make the film for me. Alaya is a star and the range of emotions she shows throughout the movie just tell a lot about her potential. After a long time, I have seen an actor play a school kid and actually look like one. She has that innocence yet a sense of who she is when she plays the school-going Amrita. And as Ayesha, she knows how to work her charm and show the vulnerability that her character possesses.
It’s quite unfair that she had to wait almost 3 years between her first two releases. She is one of the finest talents in this young generation and her hold on screen is impeccable. She will make you feel for her and connect with her and her aura is radiating. I have some complaints from her characters but none from her performance. She deserves more meaty parts and she will do wonders.
Karan make a good debut with the film. He isn’t your usual looking Bollywood hero but he has a certain appeal on screen that you just can’t take your eyes off him. When it’s just 1-2 lines of dialogues, he says it with conviction. But when given a long exchange, he starts off well but then becomes a little mechanical in his delivery, that is something he needs to work on more. His demeanour though fits perfectly to each phase of his both characters. His presence does have an eclectic presence that pulled me towards him.
To play two characters in your first film, and maintain a distinction between them, is not something even seasoned actors can’t do at many times. But Karan is able to do that. As Yakub, he is outgoing, street smart and cheerful but as Harmeet, he shows restraint, and a fear hiding inside. I am excited to see this talent being explored. His chemistry with Alaya is also quite effective, and in both the parts.
I won’t call Vicky’s presence as a cameo as he is there throughout the movie, but it’s his voice as DJ Mohabbat that takes the story forward. When he appears on screen, it’s as usual a delight. However, one thing that I must say about his dialogues is that when he speaks about love, which is throughout the movie, there is such an overload of philosophy that unless you are too focused on hearing each and every word, you might not even catch the essence of it. But seeing Vicky on screen just makes it all a bit better.
A major portion of Almost Pyaar is its music, especially the first half. For me, Amit Trivedi is a treasure that we all must cherish. In this film too, he delivers some amazing music, but it’s the lyrics that don’t work for me. I don’t know why makers think that putting every second word in English or a popular catchphrase, makes a song fit for the young generation. It just appears too wannabe to me. The music refreshes you and keeps you in line with the vibe of the film, but there is nothing that you will remember as such once you come out of the theatres.
This is where major portion of my complaints lie. The first half that Anurag presents is beautiful. You feel you will get a mature take on innocent love. But second half just becomes chaotic for me. Firstly, if you are showing two parallel stories intertwining with each other at one point, it should serve a purpose at the end, but here it didn’t. Anurag even seems inspired from some Imtiaz Ali style of filmmaking but it just doesn’t fits for him. Stalkerish behaviour seems to get approval because of a person’s persistence. A scene that includes some violence seems unwarranted to me.
There are many instances that are showed to build connection between the two running stories, but it never attains a fruitful conclusion. And that irked me the most. It made the second half a downer for me. The conflict was good, its repercussions were quite effectively shown, but it’s the unnecessary attempt to make a connection between stories that kept me from enjoying it all fully. The film would have worked better for me, if the stories had run parallelly without any intersection and then just had the last scene. This attempt made it a little messy for me.
Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat excels because of Alaya who gives a tremendously amazing performace(s). Karan also makes a place in your heart but the execution of the story and especially the intertwining, just took the experience a little down for me. But I will recommend for you to watch it just to see Alaya’s prowess as an artist. This girl is a star.