The first thing that stood out of the initial trailers of Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (LSTCK) was the name of Anurag Kashyap associated with it. The man of the dark side of cinema whose banner AKFPL gave Udaan, Gangs Of Wasseypur as well as Sunil Bohra’s Shahid, and Chittagong, is crossing over to the light side with a recipe of comedy which is being promoted as the first food film of Bollywood. His latest production Aiyyaa was at the receiving end of scathing reviews, will LSTCK do anything substantial to pave Anurag’s space with this genre?
Chased by gangsters in London whom he owes money, Omi (Kunal Kapoor) returns to his ancestral home that he had once fled in the hope that he can swindle the money his grandfather’s family dhaba churns owing to the dish that made the dhaba famous ‘chicken khurana’. Much to Omi’s misfortune, Dadaji now has a serious case of Alzheimers and with that the recipe is lost forever. The trailer has revealed much of what you can expect of the story of the film, i.e. the grandfather’s death, Omi’s attempt to rediscover the secret recipe, a brewing romance to heat up the proceedings, plus a stellar line-up of quirky characters.
The combination of characters bring their distinguish flavors to the recipe; the love track between the leads has its strong tadka of mush. Kunal Kapoor, an enormously underrated actor of our times, is aggressively adorable in few places but in bits looks like he’s eaten too much than can be digested. When he relaxes, he’s more fun to watch. Huma Qureshi who plays the doctorni love interest, is instantly engaging. She shows the same strong instincts here as in the former much applauded role in GOW and is admirably poised. Rajesh Kumar as Tittu mama and Vinod Nagpal as the patriarch grandfather draw special mentions for adding the necessary diversions and light-hearted moments
Debutant director Sameer Sharma and his writer Sumit Batheja create their own intense world of sweet sour family drama but take excessive time in reaching the central point of the film. The characters are well fleshed out and not the regular stereotypes you’d otherwise find associated with Punjabi clans. This one’s different. Instead of yellow fields and rich drapery, you have dusty roads and an animated albeit serious discussion about ‘kuccha’ (short pants). And that’s precisely the reason why the movie works despite the narrative being an average fare.
Since the basic premise is already known via the films promos, waiting for the ‘what-happens-eventually’ is a tad bit tiring given the run time. Even as we get to the final reels of the film, they aren’t as indulging and as a viewer leaves you mildly disappointed. The makers seem to have unconsciously kept the plot simple and unfortunately didn’t go all out to wow the audiences. While the second half picks up decently, and makes up for in entertainment value, an extra twist would have been a neat cherry on top. Nonetheless, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana is a well put together recipe of standard desi ingredients treated with a slightly different method. Don’t go looking for any secret ingredient to make this one extra-delish and you should be in for a good treat.