Sunday ReRun: Daawat E Ishq, the Tragedy of the Father of the Bride

I would say “why didn’t anyone tell me how good this movie is?”, but then there have been people screaming at me in the comments to watch it for months now, so I can’t really say that.  Anyway, it’s good!  Really good!  Running Shaadi good (my gold standard for overlooked brilliant little rom-coms).

Okay, I’m going to start with an “aw Grandpa!” story.  That is, one that makes you go “awww, Grandpa!” at the end of it.  So, years and years ago, when my sister and I were teenagers, we were riding in the car with Grandma and Grandpa.  And Grandma was giving us advice, the way she liked to do.  Advice that was about 50 years out of date, but still delightful because it was Grandma.  Stuff like “make sure to learn bridge, so you have something to do at parties” and “if you are offered a drink, just get seltzer water with lemon and a little sweet and low and then no one can tell you aren’t really drinking” and “engineers make the best husbands” (okay, that one’s timeless, guess what my brother-in-law does?).  So she suddenly burst out with “I hope you girls marry for love!”  Which is crazily out of date, who in America marries for something besides love?  Also, did Grandma turn down some millionaire because she loved Grandpa more?  Actually, that I could believe, Grandma was very very very very very popular.  Very very very. And it was also really sweet, because my sister and I weren’t exactly popular or having millionaires lining up to marry us, but in Grandma’s eyes we would have our choice of Bill Gates on down.

Image result for betty grable

(Obviously this isn’t Grandma, this is Betty Grable.  But Grandma kind of looked like this.  Very very popular.  Only had eyes for Grandpa though, thought he was the handsomest smartest coolest man in the history of the world)

But that’s not the “aw” part.  No, the “aw” part comes after Grandma makes her big statement, and Grandpa suddenly burst out with “And don’t let anyone marry you for your money!”  Because Grandma was sure we could marry Bill Gates, but Grandpa was sure we were going to be Bill Gates.  Okay, now you can say “awww”.

So, why am I starting this review with this story?  Because the entire time Anupam Kher was onscreen, I kept thinking about it.  Because he was both Grandma and Grandpa combined, he wanted his daughter to get married, but he was also sure that only the greatest person in the world deserved to marry her.

That’s a hidden tragedy of the dowry system.  What it does to the father of the bride.  Who has spent his whole life thinking that his daughter is the greatest thing to ever happen in the history of the world (because that’s what all fathers think), and now is hit with the harsh reality that she isn’t just worthless to society, she is a detriment, a burden, a blight on society to be swept away and ignored.

That’s not just what I was thinking while watching this film, that’s what Parineeti’s character was thinking as well.  She isn’t going to battle for an abstract concept of fairness in the dowry system, she is going to battle for her father, her poor tired worried father whose heart has been broken over and over and over again.  And that’s what makes it work, I think, better than Badrinath.  It doesn’t start with some abstract concept of dowry.  It starts with heartbroken worried Anupam Kher, the soul of the family and the one true love of his daughter, who we want to give one moment of dignity back in his life.  Dowry comes from the father of the bride.  Start there.

I really want to talk about how awesome Aditya Roy Kapoor’s character was too, but I can’t without getting into SPOILERS.

 

 

So, SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILERS SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

 

Like I said, we start with the father of the bride.  Poor Anupam Kher, eagerly looking for the car with the potential groom to arrive, greeting them effusively, putting up with their insulting attitude to his home and his neighborhood and everything else.  And even putting up with their blunt questions about how much money he might be able to send along with his daughter.  And only after all of this does Parineeti make her presence known.  Coming down the stairs and announcing that she is rejecting the groom, even if he wants her.  His whole CV is a lie, he can’t even speak English properly, and he asked her if she has seen “blue films”.  She doesn’t want him.

Parineeti, see, this is no problem for her.  She is young and resilient and confident.  It’s Anupam who worries.  Because parents always worry more about their children than their children worry about themselves.  And what brings this movie to a higher level is that it shows Anupam’s fears aren’t entirely unwarranted.

Not in some dramatic “an unmarried woman can never be truly happy” way.  No, in a very grounded real way.  Anupam is in a minor accident, Parineeti insists on staying home from her shopgirl job to take care of him for the day, and is fired for it while Anupam listens from the other room.

It’s a whole system.  The jobs that women have tend to be less responsible, they are the waitresses and shopgirls and secretaries, not the managers and bosses.  Because the system is set up with the assumption that a woman will have a husband, and the husband will provide the majority of the income, the solid responsible reliable job.  And so young women end up being in these tenuous positions where the only jobs they can get are jobs they can’t count on.  Parineeti is fine, for now, because she has her father with the reliable job.  But Anupam is clearly suddenly seeing what could happen to her after he dies, if she is on her own going from uncertain job to uncertain job, fighting a little extra hard for everything (movie tickets, autorickshaws, service at a restaurant, it’s all harder if you are a woman alone).  Parineeti is young and confident and doesn’t fear the future, but Anupam fears it for her.  And he is willing to do whatever it takes to buy security for her.

Parineeti comes at it from a different direction.  Anupam just wants to find a way to save his daughter from the problems of society, Parineeti is furious and wants to fight against those problems.  And they meet in the middle when Anupam realizes her fight might be the way to solve his worries.  It’s a gamble, but it’s worth it if he can ensure she gets what she wants.  What she really wants.

See, Parineeti had a little bit of a Grandma in her, she was thinking that the perfect guy would solve all her problems.  She was looking for the dreamy guy with the good English accent.  She was brave and confident in her future, because she thought that was her future.  And she found the guy, the perfect guy.  Only to realize she couldn’t wrap her future up in a guy, even “the perfect guy”.  Because her future was still not “hers”, it was reliant on him.  And on her father being able to “buy” him for her, to give enough money to “help” the couple get started.

This scene is really disgusting.  The family from the opening, they had comparatively modest requests and they were open about it.  But Parineeti’s perfect guy, he and his parents are patting themselves on the back for not asking for dowry, at the same time they are asking for far more money than anyone else in order to “help” the young couple get established.

What makes it extra disgusting is that this is so close to what families really do.  A nice check to the married couple from uncles-aunts-grandparents on both sides of the family to get them started in life, that’s pretty consistent across all cultures.  But to force such a thing, something that should come from love being turned into a demand, it just has an extra level of gross that isn’t there with the direct dowry requests.

And so we can understand why Parineeti reacts so forcefully to this last insult.  Not for herself, but for her father, who was being held up and robbed by people she had brought into his life.  And so she comes up with their kooky plan.  To take their savings (supposed to be used for her dowry), put on a front in a different city, place a matrimonial ad, film a dowry request, call the police on the groom’s family, and then offer to drop the charges in return for a pay off, take the money and leave town.

It’s a great plan, both in terms of what the characters came up with, but also in terms of the scriptwriters.  Because it lets them have all the fun of a con job and a heist, but with no guilt.  Because they are just getting their own back against another in a long series of demanding horrible families.

Enter Aditya Roy Kapur!  He is SO GOOD in this movie!  Super charming and confident and different feeling.  We can see what Parineeti starts to see in him, and we can see through his eyes what he sees in Parineeti.  Because he is an odd duck.  Part of a wealthy family, but happier speaking broken English to his customers at the family’s massive cheap food restaurant than going to school for an advanced degree like a rich boy normally would.  And quick to fall in love with the gorgeous confident woman who arm wrestles him for the bill.

He is so different from the other boys, not because he can speak perfect English or any of the other things on their original “wish list”.  But because he sees Parineeti as her father sees her, she is the prize, he is lucky to have her.  He puts in an effort even in the first meeting, bringing food and begging for a chance to talk with her.  While everyone else strolls in assuming Parineeti and Anupam should be grateful just to be in the presence of their perfect son.

But most of all he is different because he wants a wife who actually likes him.  That’s something no one else worried about, even Parineeti’s English speaking boyfriend just strolled in and assumed she would love him.  But Aditya wants to make an effort, knows he has to make an effort.  Maybe it’s because he is such an odd guy with the bright clothes and funny accent, he knows most women don’t like him.  Or maybe it is because he has always been confident in himself and able to go his own way in all things, from clothes to dating.  But whatever it is, he is different.

Their “romance” is very quick, really just one song that covers 3 days spent together.  But we can see Parineeti softening and becoming more and more herself over the course of it.  Her “disguise” for this trip is so perfect, because it works to show us how she sees herself for “real”.  In the real world, she has practical shopgirl hair, easy to tie back in a ponytail and keep out of the way.  Her make-up is a quick dash of lipstick and a smidge of eye shadow, no time for anything else.  Her clothes are jeans and a shirt, easy to wear while riding her scooter.  But now, in this fantasy life, she has put on a long hair wig, perfect make-up, expensive floaty fitted clothes.  She thinks this is what she needs to be, this is what will get her a groom when her “real” self failed.  And it gives her the confidence to deal with Aditya the way she does.  And the confidence to answer him honestly when he asks her questions, to show that she loves eating his food, that she enjoys simple things like going to Hindi movies, and that she wants to drive the sports car, not just ride around while he drives.  And that is what Aditya falls in love with (and the audience as well through his eyes).  Not the gorgeous woman everyone else sees, but the confidence that her disguise gives her.  Arm-wrestling him the night before their official first meeting, gobbling up the food he brings to their official meeting, and revealing more and more of her “real” self the longer they stay together.

And Parineeti spends long enough to get to see through to his “real” self as well.  Or rather, the way he accepts her “real” self.  A guy who, finally, supports her and appreciates her and treats her as well as her father treats her.  Because in the end, it all circles back to Anupam again.  Only now it is Aditya as Anupam.  Because just as Anupam has been saving money for years for Parineeti’s dowry, to ensure her happiness, so has Aditya.  Only he didn’t know it was for Parineeti.

This isn’t the first movie I have seen (Badrinath, again) in which the groom tricks his family into thinking that the dowry is from the bride when actually he stole it from his own family.  But this one feels a little different, because Aditya had the dowry ready to begin with.  He knew, whoever his bride was, he did not want her to pay dowry.  And so he had been saving and preparing as well, for the woman who would love him for him, and who he wanted to know for sure that he loved her for her, not for the money.

And then the ending is very rushed.  Like the other sweet simple romances I have seen over the past few years (Happy Bhaag Jayegi, Dulha Mil Gaya, Khoobsurat), this film doesn’t really have a second half.  Right when we reach the point that the twist would happen, it just doesn’t.  Parineeti goes back home, realizes she loves Aditya and can’t take his money, Anupam agrees to whatever she wants (as always), and they prepare to go back to Lucknow to hand him the money back.  Meanwhile, Aditya, heartbroken (and not so coincidentally, his big dramatic emotion scenes all take place the night of and morning after the wedding, meaning he is wearing basic traditional garb and looks a lot more serious and heroic than ever before), has managed to track her down to Hyderabad and has come there to find her, furious.

And then there is a chase at a train station, the gangsters who offered to launder the money for Parineeti are chasing her, even with a gun to her head she refuses to give up the cash until she can hand it over to Aditya, and Aditya comes up as she is being threatened and automatically defends her, thus proving his love.  And embrace, and THE END!

It’s just so fast!  And there are these little hints that I would have loved to see more of.  For instance, Aditya is preparing to travel to Hyderabad with a gun because “they don’t know how many people are in her gang”.  To me it felt like there was a slight clue that he had it in his head that Parineeti might be in danger, that somehow she might have been caught up in a gang and he needs to rescue her.  Wouldn’t that have been a great movie?  For Aditya to go around trying to save her and misunderstand and Parineeti playing along and pretending she was part of a big gang.  Or, how about how they won over Aditya’s parents to their marriage?  What if Parineeti had to put on a different disguise, and there was another elaborate plan?  Or just, what if Aditya tracked her down and pretended to still be in love with her while planning to get her arrested, and then as he got to see her normal average life he fell in love even more?

This is my biggest complaint, really, with this film and with Khoobsurat and others.  Give me my second half!  Instead of just the first half of a film and then at the point where the interval would normally be, poof!  Ending!

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28 thoughts on “Sunday ReRun: Daawat E Ishq, the Tragedy of the Father of the Bride

  1. You announced this D-E-I rerun few days ago, but for some reason I thought you are talking about Hasee Toh Phasee. And now , when I read the title of your review I was like: the Tragedy of the Father of the Bride? Strange title for Hasee Toh Phasee review 😉

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  2. I watched this for today’s re-run, and I’m glad I did. Very fun, and the first movie I’ve seen with Aditya Roy Kapur. I didn’t really get it when you and others have talked about his potential, and wondering why he isn’t doing as much or as well as you thought he would, because in stills he looks more like a model than an actor. Very symmetrical and nice looking, but not really interesting looking. But he’s quite fun to watch in this role, and does a good job with the charming and the intense hurt and angry scenes.

    So much fun having a father daughter movie. I want more of these! Parineeti and Anupam are so cute together. I want to see if there are outtakes. I liked the title song, Mannat, and the end credits song too. I liked that the movie sincerely raised a serious issue, and the level of conflict and tension (not too much and not for too long) was about what I could take today, given the ongoing horrible things happening right now in real life. Even so, I teared up at the wonderful almost ending when the boy who catalyzes all this sees their wedding on Facebook, and is inspired to refuse to accept dowry from his next potential bride’s parents. And the endind ending, with Gullu’s shoes, is really fun.

    The reality of dowry is so very grim in India though. I don’t have a clue how it will actually change, though I know many groups are working on changing it. The way that the dowry system drives sex selective abortion and female infanticide is terrible. And recent data shows that these both actually increase as household incomes and education levels of mothers and fathers increase.

    I thought it was clever to set the story among Muslim families. This gave a nice flavor to the music, and avoided stereotyping dowry as Hindu issue.

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    • I’m not super surprised about the education/money thing. I wouldn’t necessarily have predicted it, but I can see how it makes sense. At a lower level, there is value in any child. That is, if I am trying to survive on my small farm, a healthy live baby means a farm worker for the next 10 years. Probably the girl is going to be less nourished and get less educated and will be married off young, but just those few years before marriage will still have value as a laborer. But at a higher level, a son would mean status and pride and someone to inherit your wealth and so on and so forth, and a girl has no value at all. And the dowry system is directly related to the lower education levels and everything else, the same money you would lavish on getting your son set up in life (education, funding a business, buying a home) would all be saved to be spent on the dowry for your daughter, so no money for education or starting a business or anything else. Dragging it back to this film, I think that is what it nods at, Parineeti can’t study overseas or do this or that because all the money they can save is being left for her dowry. Once they just give up on the dowry, suddenly there is enough money for her to do what she wants and give her the tools to take care of herself and her father.

      On Sun, Oct 28, 2018 at 4:44 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I also watched this for the rerun. It’s a good one! Parineeti was so appealing as this character, strong and funny and totally fearless. Agree with procrastinatrix, watching her and Anupam together was one of the many good parts. (Speaking of which, Anupam must have played father to several generations of actors at this point, and he seems to get more roles – interesting, well-written roles – than anyone in Hindi film.) I liked the premise, loved the moment when the plan gets turned upside down because ARK turns out to be a good guy, and I thought it stuck the landing too. Things move fast in the second half, and the gang of bad guys seems to be a neat pre-fab plot device a lot of movies stick in to add some excitement, but the way Taru has to face his own complicity in the dowry system is important and could easily have been glossed over.

    The weak points for me, which I’m not even sure I have a problem with, are 1) the two songs stuck together right in the middle, just felt like it threw off the momentum a bit, and 2) the way they show us what’s inside Parineeti’s head instead of letting her act it or writing the script to make it evident what was driving her.

    Your point that Parineeti’s disguise lets us see her how she imagines her real self to be is right on, and that version of her is also very fun to watch. I was a little put off by Aditya Roy Kapur’s character at first, he’s big and hunky but also kind of obnoxious, but that seems intentional and he keeps the character’s outsized persona consistent while winning us over with the unexpected sweetness and willingness to see Parineeti as his equal. I loved the Anupam in the last half hour of the movie, his transformation from harried single parent and mousy clerk to fearless father runs opposite Parineeti’s learning to doubt herself. Good movie, thanks for giving us a reason to see it :).

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    • I love Aditya’s character, because it is the opposite of what you point out with Parineeti’s, that the film kept telling us what was in her mind instead of letting her performance show it. Aditya seems like a big hunky ladies’ man and we don’t understand why he is so taken with Parineeti and why he has the strange condition of spending 3 days with her and all of that. But then we get to know him and see that he is an odd awkward guy who is very confident in himself but also aware that he is a bit much for most people, and that he doesn’t really fit in. The opposite of Parineeti, she wants to be someone else, he wants to be exactly what he is and wants to marry someone who likes him just for himself.

      On Sun, Oct 28, 2018 at 10:19 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, that is a better description of Taru. Also gets at why I found the train station scene satisfying. He’s furious with her because he thinks she conned him, that she was only in it for the money and the love and understanding she showed him were all a lie. But then he learns she’s acting out of this deep wound of injustice and she really did love his “flavor” after all. She still has to hear how she hurt him (such a great hug), and he realizes has to be the good guy he is with her in public and stand up to his parents instead of just trying to make things right behind their backs.

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        • I appreciate that the film had that balance, let her give the explanation of why her plan in general wasn’t “wrong”, the boys aren’t blamed for asking for dowry why should she be blamed for blackmailing for it? But also acknowledged that she had been wrong to hurt Taru, who was innocent in this whole thing, and he deserved her apology.

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  4. I meant to say, I love Parineeti’s clothes throughout. The black kurta with green/white panels and trim is divine! I liked how her clothes in the last song were different from her salesgirl and rich girl clothes. A merging of the two?

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    • I love her clothes! And she is one of those actresses where I get so frustrated that she doesn’t just dress like she does onscreen, she looks amazing in this movie and much better than she usually does in public appearances.

      Agree about the final song. Her rich girl clothes and hair and all the rest are also super impractical, long and flowing and would catch on things and she couldn’t wear them on a scooter and like that. But when she is running her own business, she has short hair short skirts, more confident and sexy than her shopgirl clothes, but still stuff she is able to move in.

      On Sun, Oct 28, 2018 at 10:22 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. This is the movie that made me fall in love with Adi not A2 or fitoor, I just loved the way he played the character and his overall getup, he has so much potential, Pari was also stunning with her rich girl outfits. Also this is not your typical love story, it actually has a great message and the dawate ishq song always makes me hungry a man that can cook uff 😍 truly an underrated film

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    • Based on what other people have said here, I think this is the movie that caused enduring love for a lot of folks. A2 was popular, but it was easy to outgrow his character. Fitoor was just terrible. But this role and this movie, you can watch over and over again and always appreciate. I wish it had done better and gotten more notice, Adi’s career would be in a much better place now.

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        • He was so good in that! He starts out looking like the usual nothing friend character, but then he ends up creating this whole background storyline and character out of almost nothing in the script. To the point that at the end I was thinking “how can they be happy and in love when one of their best friends is obviously a self-destructive addict?”

          On Tue, Oct 30, 2018 at 9:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. I didn’t rewatch it because I watched this fairly recently, like 1-2 months ago, and commented on it at the time on the original post. As you mentioned then, this is a real showcase of Parineeti leading a film – she’s in nearly every frame, yet it’s not been labeled a heroine-led film. Also mentioned above by you and commented, what a lovely, detailed, and rare father-daughter “love” story – I use those words because it really truly is about the love they have for each other, not just about the relationship dynamics. Finally, I’ll once again call out ARK as the revelation here. Who knew he could be such a good character actor, with charisma to boot? This is not your typical romantic hero role. Instead this is almost like a fanfic someone wrote about the outlandish funny supportive best-friend sidekick getting the girl instead of the boring safe hero.

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    • In my Badhai Ho review, I talked about the difference of a film where the children love their parents as people, not just out of some sense of duty to the general idea of “mother” and “father”. And it feels the same in this, Parineeti and Anupam love each other as people, not out of duty.

      Which, come to think of it, is echoed in the love story, ARK wants a wife who will love him for the person he is not just because he is her husband. But he is blind to the unbalanced dynamic, that he is not giving the same to her by allowing his parents to demand dowry.

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  7. I watched this again and am now remembering that I watched it. Loved it both times! Mostly incoherent thoughts as I have my lunch before class: 1. I thought I would take a pass on Aditya permanently after Fitoor, which I did not like and in which he was just sort of there. He is great in this, and actually attractive instead of moody and lanky. Working the kajal. 2. I wonder if Parineeti can play any other sort of character? I really like her in this, but all of her roles are loud and brash. 3. India needs a real food movie, on the order of Babette’s Feast or Big Night or Eat Drink Man Woman or Tampopo. It has a huge food culture, so why not let it take the foreground in a movie? Unless it has and I missed it? Cheeni Kum maybe sort of is because it focuses on a chef, but there needs to be a food movie that shows discussion, preparation, and consumption of food, such that when the audience leaves they go straight to a restaurant.

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    • Luv Shuv To Chicken Khurrana was just re-added to American Netflix, it’s definitely a food movie, but it was also pretty low-budget and unnoticed, so I don’t know if it qualifies. I can think of more food-stuff in southern films than in Hindi, just off the top of my head. Angamaly Diaries, Premam (at least the last part), I am sure there are others I’m not thinking of.

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      • Oh, I loved Luv Shuv, even though I saw it on a plane. Unfortunately our stupid Netflix doesn’t have it. I forgot to say: as Emily said above, watching Anupam play almost two roles of rich father and poor clerk and something in between is one of the pleasures of this film. It’s also one of the main reasons I like Special 26, during the con you get to watch him transform a couple of times.

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        • Watch Zamaana Deewana! He does a whole drag sequence playing 4 different heroines, very impressive.

          On Sun, Nov 4, 2018 at 3:57 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. The title says deewat e ishq rather than daawat e ishq. Normally I wouldn’t mind but it took a while to find your review due to the typo…

    When I first watched this movie a few years ago, I watched it because I read that it was set in Hyderabad and so I was excited about seeing Hyderabad through the eyes of a Hindi movie. I was kinda disappointed that they spent so little time in Hyderabad though. Anyway I thought they did a great job and made it seem real. I really liked the references to living in Jubilee Hills and buying Pulla Reddy Sweets.

    You’re right when you say that Aditya Roy Kapur was so good in this! He’s so charming and into character that I forgot that he was playing the role. I don’t think this is like anything else I’ve seen him in. Parineeti was good as well but I feel like I’ve seen her in roles similar to this one.

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    • Thanks for the spelling heads up! I’ll fix it.

      Aditya is so good! his role in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewaani is the only one that I can think if that is remotely similar. And that’s just because he has a bit of a personality and sense of humor in it. I really hope someone gives him a similar chance again.

      I just rewatched it and I was noticing that Pari is playing the same role she usually does, but it’s a little better in this. There are moments of subtle sadness and anger and stuff that aren’t in her usual peppy young woman kind of films. I wouldn’t mind if she played the same character over and over so long as she plays it as well as she does here.

      On Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 11:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yup! He was really good in YJHD! I’m curious to see what his role will be like in Kalank. I think that’s his next big movie. If I remember correctly, they went to Arjun Kapoor first for the role but he ended up rejecting it because he felt like Varun’s role was stronger due to it being an anti-hero type role.

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        • I can believe Aditya bringing something more to a less script backed role than Arjun Kapoor would. Not necessarily that he is more talented, but I think he works harder.

          On Thu, Nov 8, 2018 at 11:57 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Also this is his first movie since Ok Jaanu as far as I know so I’m hoping he ends up surprising us after the long break.

            I found this on the Kalank wikipedia page so I doubt this is actually reliable but they have a cast list with character names:
            – Madhuri Dixit as Ishmat, a courtesan
            – Sonakshi Sinha as Rupali Awasthi, a poet
            – Alia Bhatt as Nushrat Bibi, Ishmat’s student and Ram’s wife
            – Varun Dhawan as Ram, Nushrat’s husband
            – Aditya Roy Kapur as Kartik Awasthi, Rupali’s husband
            – Sanjay Dutt as Nushrat’s father
            – Kunal Khemu as Laxman, Ram’s brother
            – Hiten Tejwani as Ahmed, Ishmat’s companion

            Nushrat is a muslim name right?

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          • I’m reading the cast list the same as you, looks like Madhuri and Alia and Hiten are Muslim and Varun is definitely not. I’d love it to be an old-school Muslim Social kind of film, the cross-religious couple gently and poetically falling in love.

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