This Muslim rom-com is a squandered opportunity sunk by broad humour and caricatures
First-time filmmaker Oz Arshad's Manchester-set romantic comedy tells the story of a young Muslim divorcee searching for a bride on a dating website. The premise is promising but any hope for a British-Asian version of You've Got Mail speedily dwindles due to a flimsy screenplay that doesn't take the time to persuade you to fall for its star-crossed lovers.
Shahid (Danny Ashok) is looking for love while also trying to win a talent contest with his stand-up comedy act. In a last ditch attempt at the former, he hits the jackpot on his Muslim dating app when he strikes up a relationship with a doctor named Fatimah (Asmara Gabrielle), who is learning to deal with her anger issues. The pair have to overcome some serious obstacles, including Fatimah's Pakistani father's objection to her relationship with a Bangladeshi man and the problem of Shahid's ex-wife, who rolls back into town looking like a Catherine Tate Show reject.
To their credit, Ashok and Gabrielle turn in decent performances despite what they're given to work with. EastEnders' Nina Wadia is also a welcome presence as Shahid's mother who, to his horror, begins dating a younger man. Comedian Dave Spikey makes an appearance as a narcissistic businessman, as do soap stars Shobna Gulati and Denise Welch. But with so many players each given their moment to shine, the film begins to feel like an overcrowded sketch show littered with awful caricatures.
Incredibly broad humour makes up the bulk of the film which is a real shame as there are glimpses of genuine heart and more delicate wit in the familial observations. Finding Fatimah might discourage judging people based on their flaws and life choices, but that only makes the decision to populate it with unpleasantly exaggerated characters rankle all the more.
Selected release from Fri 21 Apr.