When Manmarziyaan released in 2018, it introduced us to a new Anurag Kashyap. Prior to that, the filmmaker had become monotonous with his affinity towards dark and noir subjects. He is now back with a new love saga titled Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat starring Alaya F and debutant Karan Mehta. The film releases in the theatres today, February 3. If you are an Anurag Kashyap fan, you might have noticed that even his love stories have a dark undertone, a grey shade to it – and Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat is no different. The filmmaker has picked on the untapped areas of romanticism, and lead actors Alaya F and Karan Mehta have done justice to it. However, while the film remains off-beat, it gets lost in translation in the second half. The nuances of modern relationships that Anurag Kashyap brought to the fore were bogged down by several flaws in the narrative. The trope of the film is familiar – two parallel storylines about a couple who are in love but weighed down by patriarchy. The first story is set in India where a Hindu girl, Amrita (Alaya F), and a Muslim boy, Yakub (Karan Mehta) run away together to watch a concert by DJ Mohabbat (Vicky Kaushal). The story is set in a small town and Anurag has brilliantly toyed around with the screenplay. Amrita is feisty and won’t bow down to the patriarchy in her family. She secretly makes videos under the garb of Saloni ammi by wearing a burqa. When she runs away with a Muslim boy, Yakub, her family raise slogans of love jihad. The second story follows Ayesha and Harmeet in London, again played by Alaya and Karan. While Ayesha falls in love with Harmeet, a small-time DJ, he tries to shoo her away because he wants to concentrate on his music. Eventually, he falls in love too. The villain in the second narrative is again Ayesha’s rich father, who goes to the extreme ends to protect his daughter from the middle-class boy. Throughout the film, you will get an overdose of ‘love’, but hey, who’s complaining? Almost Pyaar… is packed with eight romance-filled, foot-tapping songs that should be the film’s USP honestly. Three cheers to Amit Trivedi for that. Only he can bring magic to songs. The film also explores modern relationships with a hint of classic tales when Vicky Kaushal, in his podcast, talks about Ghalib and Amrita Pritam. Anurag’s quest was to show the strict families and societal norms that young lovers often give in to. This mental conditioning often leaves the kids isolated and many of us are victims of it. If you are in love, you will relate to both stories. In the first story, both Amrita and Yakub don’t verbally tell each other ‘I love you’. Neither once will you hear them talk about love, relationship or marriage. But it’s the way they act around each other that makes it evident how two best friends have fallen in love. Some of the dialogues in Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat are also worth mentioning. For example, when Yakub says “Kitna acha hota agar hum bade hokar apna dharam chun sakte. Main to dharam ki dukaan par jataa hi nahin kabhi.” Also, don’t miss Vicky Kaushal’s podcasts! However, where the film goes wrong is when Anurag tries to cramp the narrative with relevant social issues like religious fanaticism, love jihad, predatory behaviour, status differences and homophobia, among other things. This ode to modern love felt old and rusty. The theme could have solely been around the kind of problems today’s youngsters face with the ideological clash they have with their parents. The film is nicely built up till the interval but loses steam in the second half. In fact, the homosexual dynamics felt like they were forcibly added to the script. The pace at which Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat went felt hurried in some places. What made the script more confusing was when both the couples were revealed as dopplegangers. Amrita’s rogue brothers are seen ordering the policemen around and snatching their guns as if it’s no big deal. None of the side characters left a profound mark on the film. The star performances by the cast are one of the high points of Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat. Alaya F has proved once again she is growing as an actor and makes a case for herself. As a Gen Z schoolgirl, she is totally immersed in her character. She quickly shifts to a modern youngster as Ayesha. Alaya has portrayed both her characters with ease and perfection. She brings out the innocence in her so well. We also really liked Karan Mehta’s performance. As a debutant, he has won hearts with his acting. He is complex yet innocent. As Yakub, he has a certain dialect that resonates well with a village boy. And as Harmeet, he steals hearts with his charm. Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat might not be Anurag Kashyap’s greatest work yet, but it is certainly worth giving a watch. The film is filled with a whole lot of love and the efforts show.