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‘Almost Pyaar’ movie review: Flawed execution overshadows important themes

‘Almost Pyaar’ movie review: Flawed execution overshadows important themes
Although I’m not typically drawn to stories about young love, I decided to give ‘Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat’ a chance because Anurag Kashyap wrote and directed it. But despite respecting Kashyap’s eccentric and cryptic filmmaking style, I was surprised to see how little of his earlier self could be found in the movie. It seemed as though he randomly picked a script and cast members to create what could be his least influential work to date. The film tells parallel stories in two distinct cities: Dalhousie and London. In Dalhousie, a young woman named Amrita (Alaya F) develops feelings for a young man named Yaqub (Karan Mehta). In London, an affluent Pakistani girl named Ayesha (also played by Alaya F) is infatuated with an up-and-coming DJ named Harmeet (played by Mehta). The only connection between the two stories is DJ Mohabbat (played by Vicky Kaushal) who appears in both. Amrita and Harmeet are both fans of DJ Mohabbat who hosts a popular podcast about love and is also a musician. Despite knowing that many reviewers and audience members would disagree with me, I found the main characters to be quite awkwardly portrayed. Kashyap attempts to inject mystery into their personalities, but I have to admit that he fails to establish a rapport with the young adults in the story. Furthermore, Kaushal’s portrayal of DJ Mohabbat doesn’t convincingly sell you the idea that he is a love guru. Although there are no complaints to be made about the actor himself, the script tries to depict him as an articulate philosopher who can shape young people’s perspectives on love and life with his insightful comments. Unfortunately, this portrayal falls short.

In Kashyap’s other movies, socio-political commentary has always played a significant role in storytelling. However, in Almost Pyaar it appears to be an afterthought. The movie tries to address issues such as religious and class-based intolerance, toxic patriarchy, and the naivety of today’s youth in the age of social media. The plot employs two parallel narratives featuring the same actors as two almost lovers.

One of the storylines tackles homophobia, Islamophobia, and the controversial accusation of ‘love jihad’ on the Muslim community. The other highlights how older family members can be both loving and caring while also holding homophobic and Islamophobic views. It also depicts how fathers and brothers feel entitled to dictate whom their daughters and sisters can date. Despite these genuine and relevant issues, Kashyap fails to deliver a captivating screenplay that captures the essence of these themes and engages the audience on a deeper level. In terms of technical aspects, the cinematography of ‘Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat’ is decent but it could have been better. There are some beautiful frames that capture the essence of the locations but it lacks the visual appeal that one would expect from an Anurag Kashyap film. Moreover, the songs and scores by Amit Trivedi are not impressive at all. Although the movie is marketed as a romantic musical, there isn’t a single track that stands out and the background score is also lackluster. It feels like Trivedi’s compositions were hastily put together without much thought or creativity. To sum it all up, it appears that Kashyap had to work under a tight budget and deadline, which might explain why the film lacks the depth and complexity that his past productions are known for. Who should watch it? If you are a die-hard Anurag Kashyap fan, you might want to watch ‘Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat’ out of curiosity but be prepared to be disappointed. This movie might also appeal to those who enjoy light-hearted, feel-good romantic movies with a touch of drama. However, if you are looking for a thought-provoking, socially relevant movie or a musical with memorable songs, this might not be the right choice for you. Rating: 2 stars Almost Pyar Genre: Romance/drama Actors: Alaya F, Karan Mehta, Vicky Kaushal Director: Anurag Kashyap Run time: 2hr 1min