Food Can Buy Love
by Abhishek Das
In Habib Faisal’s classic Bollywood film, Daawat-e-Ishq (translated as “Feast of Love”), the protagonist, Gullu, comes to trust her love, Tariq. She has believed men to be materialistic low-lives who marry women for the purposes of dowry and physical desire. Gullu’s recognition of Tariq’s authentic love for food proves that his love for her is genuine as well.
At the onset of the film, Gullu believes men only hold materialistic desire in their quest for marriage. In the film, this desire is observed as multiple men wish to marry Gullu only to acquire a dowry. A dowry in Indian culture is defined as assets the bride’s family gives to the groom during marriage in exchange for the bride living with the groom’s family. In the beginning of the film, when Gullu thinks she found love with a rich man, she becomes vengeful as he asks for a large dowry for marriage. She states “He said ‘I love you’ one hundred times… Amju, how can you ask me for money if you love me?… Leave! Just Leave!” This failed relationship reaffirms her belief that all men are materialistic in desire for marriage.
Later in the movie, Gullu meets a successful and popular man in Tariq who shows love and emotion for others in his enthusiastic style of food preparation. An example of his selflessness appears when he decides against a dowry for marriage from Gullu’s family, showing that he is a pure and genuine man in “If a girl tricks guys, they are low-life… but boys keep demanding dowry, and they are still innocent.” Tariq’s social acceptance of Gullu shows his non-materialistic attitude towards marriage.
Tariq uses a combination of song, dance, and love for food to create social unity among those around him. At the beginning of the film, he creates an enormous musical scene (Figure 1) where he declares his love for Gullu by creating an assortment of curries and spices to eat and uses kitchenware to make a euphonic rhythm one might find in a kitchen. This blend of sounds and sight brings all customers, including Gullu, in his restaurant together to enjoy a spirited song and delicious meal.
By the end of the film, Gullu becomes less materialistic herself in the sense that she does not search for a man who has money, nor does she give up marriage for a dowry. In her loving words to Tariq, which shows the importance of food in their relationship, she states “I fell in love with you… I just can’t forget the flavors of your speech, your food, or the fun I had with you… I have gotten addicted to your flavors.” Gullu knows her true love in life, and the passion that Tariq shows for his food and its complex preparation reflects the love the couple has for each other. She finds proof in that the purity he treats food with is the same as the purity in which he will treat her.
Faisal, Habib, director. Daawat-e-Ishq. Yash Raj Films. 2014.