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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Daawat-e-Ishq, First look

Invitation to a first look

Saturday evening, four days after my return from Singapore. A call on my mobile phone. Some young woman said she was calling from Spice Bhasha. No, not a restaurant chain nor a spice manufacturer, but the non-English focus public relations firm, Spice PR. Line was unclear, so I requested her to send the details of the event she was inviting me to by SMS. Nothing came till Sunday night. And then I got it. An ‘iftaar’ (meaning breaking of the 16-hour total fast that many Muslims observe during the holy month of Ramzan/Ramadan) party at YashRaj Films’ Andheri premises in Mumbai, on Monday, 07 July, to launch the trailer of their upcoming release, Daawat-e-Ishq. Aditya Roy Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra, the lead pair, would attend.

With the calf muscles in my right leg still hurting from the tears suffered 15 days ago in Singapore and the Doc’s orders not to move around for another two weeks haunting me, it was a dilemma: To go or not to go! Solution emerged when my nephew Raza agreed to drop me there on his way home after work, and I decided that I would come back by auto-rickshaw, without putting too much strain on my leg. Luckily, I stay on the ground floor. We reached at about 6.40, just 10 minutes after the stated time. The attendant trying to guide us to a car-park took ages to realise that we did not want to park the car at all, and that Raza would be on his way after dropping me to the point closest to the event. Finally, I was there.

Decorated and lit-up for the occasion, the canteen area announced the catering was by Hyderi Kebab. One learnt later that this was the name of the catering company in the film, owned by the lead actor! There were a handful of persons around, but none of them looked like journalists, so I inquired about the exact location of the proceedings. It was revealed that the trailer would be shown in the preview theatre above, and then the gathering would move to the eating area. Though the theatre was just on the first floor, the lift helped minimise the strain on my leg. Here, there were already 50-odd persons seated, including several journalists. Screening began another 30 minutes later and the trailer was shown twice.

What the trailer told us was that the story has Muslim characters and there are two camps, one from Lucknow (considered the capital of Muslim culture and the seat of Urdu language, as propagated by Nawabi rule) and Hyderabad (considered the capital of a variant Muslim culture, the seat of Deccani Urdu, as propagated by Nizam rule). The boy is from Lucknow while the girl is from Hyderabad. Dowry appears to be a key element. There is teasing romance, incidental humour and some thrilling chases too. And yes, cooking and food are strong factors, which were egging the audience towards the goodies spread out on the dinner table below.

Spoken too early. Food would have to wait some more. There was to be a press conference first. Where? One flight up, and you would have to climb 50-odd steps. And no! There was no lift to get there. A piece of music blared away cyclically, for half-an-hour. Two chefs stood behind some kitchen stuff. Everybody waited with bated breath for the hero, Aditya Roy Kapur and the heroine, Parineeti Chopra. When they did arrive, at last, the 50 odd photographers had a field day, and only after they had got their due did the PC start.

A few of the journos enjoys playing with the words daawat (invitation) and ishq (love), reading multiple meanings into them as they phrased questions for the couple. What emerged was:

· Aditya, who has Punjabi and Jewish blood, is a bad cook/no cook in real life. A former foodie, he is currently on a crash diet. When he’s hungry, he used to order pizzas. He lives alone.

· Parineeti just does not have the patience to cook. She’s a typical Punjaban and enjoyed playing this role in Daawat-e-Ishq--that of a shoe sales-girl, which is so different from her real self. She is indebted to Faisal for reposing faith in her again (they have worked together earlier in three films).

· Both got great help from writer-director Habib Faisal in working on their respective language/dialect. Parineeti practiced Hyderabadi with her screen father Anupam Kher.

· Parineeti hadn’t realised that most of the roles she has played so far have been of feisty girls who ran away from undesirable wedding scenarios. She thinks of those roles as just strong characters.

· Aditya, likewise, was happy with change of image, having played mostly alcoholics earlier.

* Parineeti's name in the film is Gulrez (Gullu) and Aditya's is Tariq.

· Parineeti took charge of the proceedings at the interaction, and even protected Aditya from some unpalatable questions. (She was employed as a PR consultant in the very company where this event was being held, before they gave her a break in a supporting role in The Ladies v/s Ricky Behl).

· Aditya had a crush on someone when he was in the ninth standard, and was depressed when it was not reciprocated.

* Parineeti is very fond of singing and desperately waiting to record songs.

Finally, it was food time. Too early for dinner, but I partook of the snacks, tea and sweets.

As I left, I was given a DVD by the PR team. Tried five different programmes to open it, but it just did not open. So the picture attached to this piece is that of the cover of the DVD.

Daawat-e-Ishq has music by brother duo Sajid-Wajid and songs written by Kausar Munir, daughter of my friend, the late Rashid Munir and Nasreen (née Meherbaksh), and grand-daughter of Urdu writer Salma Siddiqui. Miss him so much. Rashid died of a paralytic stroke recently.

The film is releasing on the 5th of September, to cash-in on the Eid feast.


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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