Film Review: Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat

Film Review: Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat

Starring: Alaya F, Karan Mehta, Vicky Kaushal, Sapna Pabbi, Vinod Nagpal

Director: Anurag Kashyap

This new romantic entertainer has an unusual double take at its heart, with its two main characters oscillating between two very different musical realms – one in London and the other in Dalhousie. The binding factor between these worlds is the music, crafted to some very earthy desi beats.

Yaqub (Mehta) is a Muslim youth living a pretty carefree existence in his hilly hometown, where he strikes an unexpected friendship with a “cute” Hindu schoolgirl Amrita (Alaya F). Despite their many class and religious differences, the world of social media and the app “Ting Tong” and the music of DJ Mohabbat (Kaushal) are strong bonding factors for this naïve pair. Determined to impress Amrita, Yaqub makes a not-so-easy-to-keep promise of taking her to the secret gig by their favourite DJ and gets caught up in the web of an inadvertent kidnap drama.

Harmeet (also Mehta) is a DJ at a London nightclub and at least his gay boss, who is attracted to him, finds his music sensational. As some of Indian heritage who grew up in Germany, this music lover has a laser-focussed mission to become a successful recorded artist and then head to his father’s birthplace of Punjab as a star performer. It is an ambition he is able to fully vocalise to only one person and that is during a chance meeting with his favourite musician – DJ Mohabbat.

Enter Ayesha (also Alaya F), a spoilt rich Pakistani-origin teenager, who is instantly infatuated with Harmeet and his musical talent. The fact that this shy and reticent DJ is oblivious to her feelings and refuses to reciprocate her love despite her many obvious attempts, makes her infatuation all the more intense. Ultimately, Harmeet does relent but to disastrous consequences, which would dramatically alter the course of his life plan.

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Will these different sets of star-crossed lovers in two very different parts of the world eventually collide?

That this film is quite the genre-bending offering from Anurag Kashyap is a given from the very first frame. It does take some getting used to as the frames switch between the two different sets of lovers – both battling similar shades of prejudice in their respective milieu. The only common thread between these far-removed couples is Kaushal’s character of a philosophising podcaster and star DJ.

The fact that debutant actor Karan Mehta is a doppelganger of Bollywood star Ranveer Singh is not just felt but also addressed in the film. The result is that the audience ends up seeing not just doubles but multiples – given the dual storyline.

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Does it work? Not entirely. What does work though are the very catchy beats, packed with social media friendly lyrics. This film, now streaming on Netflix, is one for those who are happy to enjoy a musical ride that may not have the strongest storyline behind it.

There is a hard-hitting political commentary at the heart of this narrative and a lament for the more innocent love in the days before TikTok, but somehow it falls just that bit short.

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