Two sets of doppelgängers in two different countries make bad decisions in the name of young love in Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat, the latest film from writer-director Anurag Kashyap. The romantic drama putters along before taking a wild turn that comes out of nowhere.
The two pairs are played by Alaya F and newcomer Karan Mehta. In India, DVD seller Yaqub (Mehta) follows high school student Amrita (Alaya) around like a puppy. In England, rich girl Ayesha (Alaya) hounds DJ Harmeet (Mehta), the first guy who’s ever rejected her advances.
It’s unclear exactly how old the characters are. This info is important not only because it sheds light on the characters’ relative maturity levels, but because age of consent plays a part in the England storyline. It’s also important because it could clarify the characters relationships to each other. If he’s 19 and she’s 17, it’s quite different than if he’s 19 and she’s 13.
Both storylines happen in the same reality, and the glue that connects them is DJ Mohabbat (Vicky Kaushal). The pairs are inspired by the musings on the nature of love that DJ Mohabbat shares on his podcast. But for us in the movie’s audience, his monologues aren’t that compelling, and they kill the plot momentum.
Yaqub and Amrita steal her brother’s motorcycle in order to travel to DJ Mohabbat’s concert in another city. They get stopped along the way and hide out in an empty summer cottage. She’s pretty sure her family will forgive them for running off together, even though they locked her in a room just to keep her from talking to Yaqub, who is Muslim.
In England, Ayesha will not leave Harmeet alone. Instead of being turned off by her relentlessness, Harmeet says something about being scared to love her because of the intensity of her feelings for him (or similar nonsense that only movie characters say). They hook up. Then their story goes completely, violently off the rails.
It’s hard to watch young people make stupid choices for the sake of romance, whether in reality or in fiction. And there’s not necessarily anything new to be learned that Shakespeare didn’t cover in Romeo & Juliet 400 years ago. I’m not sure what the moral of Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat is.
Alaya F is an interesting performer, even when the characters she is given to play are kind of shallow. Karan Mehta gets some slack as a new actor, but some of the choices he makes are strange, such as Harmeet’s annoying laugh. Better guidance from Kashyap could’ve helped.
Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat just didn’t work for me.