Till now, most reviews I’ve written have revolved around big cities, especially the financial capital of Mumbai. But the Kolkata and Lucknow based Daawat-e-Biryani’ simply touched my heart! The film went live on ZEE5 from the 1st of October 2019. This Bengali film has a captivating story.
The plot is set in the swinging 70’s where people of Lucknow often make their way to ‘Durbar-E- Aafreen’ to devour their delectable biryani. The fragrant whiff emanating from the spices cooking in the huge cauldrons was simply inviting. Mansoor Ali’s (played by (old) Jayant Kriplani, (young)Ananda Choudhari) sister, Aafreen (played by (old) Suhasini Mulay and (young) played by Anuradh Mukherjee), had magic touch in her hands. Knowing of that, her lover Ronojoy, who is also Mansoor Ali’s bestie, (Played by (old)Chiranjeet Choroborty (young) Sudip Sarkar) gifts her a recipe book that was written by the ‘Bawarchi’s’ (cooks) of Nawab Wajid Ali Khan’s court, back in the mid 1800’s.
A staunch Hindu Boy, Ronojoy fall in love with a petit Muslim girl, Afreen, who is form an orthodox Muslim family. After meeting with the disapproval from her brother Bashir Ali Khan (played by (old) Ashoke Singh and (young)Debopriyo Mukherjee), Afreen and Ronojoy decide to elope. The strong ties of Mansoor Ali Khan’s and Ronojoy’s friendship wear away. Mansoor feels betrayed, because he though the couple should have spoken to him, and he would certainly get approval from their beloved father. Sadly, Afreen and Ronojy couldn’t wait, as Bashir’s men were after them.
The scene opens at 50 years later, when Panchali Rehman, Ronojoy’s and Afreen’s) granddaughter (played by Sauraseni Maitra), is reading out her admission letter at breakfast time. Ronojoy experiences a cardiac arrest, and the family rush him to the hospital. In an open dialogue with the members of his family Ronojoy tells Afreen, that he once again wants to have that delectable biryani, that she would make for him from the recipe book he’d gifted her. Afreen is upset. For the life of her she is unable to recall where she left that diary. Panchali is on a mission, sets off for Lucknow to meet her granduncle Mansoor Ali Khan. 50 years later, the restaurant has lost its former glory, and is thriving on debt. Panchali is upset to learn of this, as she forges a bond with Mansoor Ali. He invites her over, and what happens then is simply heart warming.
The beauty of the narrative lies in the smooth transition of the times. Panchali seems to have absorbed all those wonderful moments that her grandparents have enjoyed. She experiences those moments with the people around her and also in those other places where the lover’s left their mark. The perfect background score rendered by Shomi Chaterjee has added more value to the simplistic plot. Director Aditi Roy has managed to give Neel B Mitra’s simple plot such as this a complete facelift, as she shows the past and the present happening alongside, without confusing roles, or people or characters.
It’s a wrap
All in all this is a light must watch. Especially when you want to get back to being your nostalgic self. The film holds ones interest right till the end.