By Subhash K. Jha
Film: “Luka Chuppi”; Director: Laxman Utekar; Cast: Kartik Aryan, Kriti Sanon & Stellar Supporting Cast; Rating: ****(4 stars)
Just when the smalltown comedy threatens to sag under the weight of over-statement there comes a fresh feisty take on a live-in relationship in this Progressive Comedy (not to be confused with the Regressive Comedy as in “Total Dhamaal”) .
“Luka Chuppi” doesn’t mind bending the rules of the rom-com genre as long the tilt doesn’t make the script look cross-eyed and waylaid. A sense of madcap adventure is constantly projected into the narrative without losing grip over the grammar of growing giggles.
“Luka Chuppi” doesn’t try too hard to generate humour. It doesn’t always make us laugh. But it never fails to amuse, as Guddu and Rashmi, two Mathura-based TV journalists, get hitched, fall in love and decide to give ‘live-in’ a chance before settling in permanently.
Egged on by his best friend/sidekick Abbas (Aparshakti Khurrana — bang-on with his deadpan expressions) the couple decides to give live-in a try. The adventures thereafter are not as smooth as, say “Badhaai Ho” where middleclass mores were projected with unflinching accuracy. “Luka Chuppi” sometimes goes awry in its search for satire, but is not the least fearful of stumbling.
Guddu wants to do “everything” that live-in couples do. Rashmi isn’t biting the bait. But they do end up in bed and soon she whispers the four magic words, “Do we have protection?” Guddu is ready with an assortment of condoms. Pyar kiya toh dalna kya?
In breaking the wall that separates love and sex in Hindi commercial cinema and in showing the lead couple with healthy hormonal instincts “Luka Chuppi” raises hopes for the Bollywood comedy where kissing is still seen as big deal, and audiences are actually said to count the number of times lips lock on screen.
Come to think of it , there are no kisses between Kartik Aryan and Kriti Sanon in this film. And yet they communicate a warm easygoing alliance that comes not from singing songs together but from recognizing your life partner for what she is.
Most of the humour is generated organically and without making strenuous efforts to induce humour into social statement.
Make no mistake about it. “Luka Chuppi” is a comedy with an underlying layer of dark satire and social statement on moral policing and communal biases in small towns. Director Laxman Utekar who has done the lucid cinematography in Gauri Shinde’s “English Vinglish” and “Dear Zindagi”, has a keen eye for smalltown quirks. He gets the mood right specially in the frequent aerial shots of the smalltown rooftops. But the stellar supporting cast is frequently let down by the persistent attempts to make them seem chronically hyper. Do these people have to say or do something all the time?
While some amount of hue-and-cry is raised over the vigilante treatment of romance, the subtle but sharp digs at the Muslim character is admirably on target. The way the Muslim film star at the film’s prologue is treated for espousing live-in relationships and in the way characters react when the hero’s Muslim friend is introduced, the film tells us we are a long way from getting away from our biases.
But hey, in the meanwhile there is the laughter. Probably not the best medicine. But it works in the right doses. Most importantly “Lukka Chuppi” works for the lead pair. Kartik Aryan is endearingly guileless and eager to score, while Kriti Sanon is more worldly-wise and slightly annoying in her will to be the dominant partner. Together the couple is a scream. Albeit a stifled one.