By Priyanka Raj, Twitter: @quellesupri While marketed as a romance, I wouldn’t call this a romantic movie, at least not a Karan Johar-esque candy floss romance. Ishaqzaade is a bit more gritty than cutesy, touching on issues like interfaith relationships, gender inequities and politically-driven violence. Set in Uttar Pradesh, it is centered on an upcoming election between two main factions, the Chauhans and Qureshis. Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra play the young scions of each clan, as Parma Chauhan and Zoya Qureshi, respectively. Initially, the two hate each other, being rivals since childhood. But then, both become smitten with one other after an encounter at an election rally organized by Zoya. The two secretly meet and embark on a relationship which crosses both religious and political lines. The highlight of this film was Parineeti Chopra. After her supporting role in Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl, I’m happy that she had much more screen time in this film. I also love that Habib Faisal wrote such a strong female character; much like Shruti Kakkar in Band Baaja Baaraat. Zoya Qureshi is ambitious and doesn’t care if you know. I must say, I loved how her character’s trademark outfit was a black vest over her kameez, which I foresee as a trend. This film was also Arjun Kapoor’s debut, and his performance as spoiled, trigger-happy and entitled political goon Parma was very impressive. However, he reminds me of Abhishek Bachchan in Yuva, who had a similar role of a political goon. This film is also the first time Amit Trivedi has worked with Yash Raj Films. The music really suits the film’s setting, no Switzerland dance sequences here. A stand-out track is Paareshan, picturised so well on Parineeti Chopra. The weak writing was a sore point of the film. After establishing such strong lead characters, it was quite peculiar that they suddenly fell in love. Also, the first half of the film was much better than the second, a problem that Band Baaja Baaraat also had. But I’d still recommend this as an antidote to all those over-stylized Bollywood films which take place in foreign locales.