The success of films like ‘Dum Lagake Haisha’, ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ and ‘Stree’ has served Bollywood a template. Put a love-struck couple in the backdrop of a small-town which may have got Google at its disposal but the society at large is still stuck in its orthodox ways- throw in some prominent faces from art-house cinema, add a bit of satire and garnish it with Pankaj Tripathi- and you get the perfect romantic comedy.
Cinematographer-director Laxman Utekar’s ‘Luka Chuppi’ starring Kriti Sanon and Kartik Aaryan fall into the same template and takes a jibe at the right -leaning moral police brigade who are ever too quick to judge a couple’s relationship and quicker to get them married.
Local reporter and star of sorts in his mohalla Guddu Shukla(Aaryan) is in love with Rashmi Tiwari(Sanon) and proposes her marriage. Rashmi feels she needs to first understand her man and take the plunge later and suggests Guddu a live-in relationship. The couple, on the pretext of covering elections, go to Gwalior with Guddu’s friend Abbas Sheikh(Aparshakti Khurrana) and start living in. All is well until Guddu’s snoopy relative Babulal (Pankaj Tripathi) finds out and the families get involved. Rashmi’s father (Vinay Pathak) is the head of an organization called Sanskriti Raksha Manch, which propagates Indian culture and marriage and is anti-live-in relationships.
Despite a safe template, the plot of the film goes haywire ever so often with illogical plot twists and forced comical situations thrown in between. The genuinely funny moments come courtesy Khurrana and Tripathi- who appear sporadically in underwritten parts. I wish they had more these two actors on screen, they surely light up each of the scenes they are in and have perfect comic timing.
Although, one must give credit where its due as the film attempts to be progressive in many ways. The girl in the story is gutsier than the boy and even though predictability seeps in the second half, you root for the girl who gives the boy the courage to speak up and do right. It also takes a sly dig at the society where a frowning priest looks at Abbas, he says ‘Dusri duniya se nahi hu, sirf Musalman hoon'(Not from a different world, I am just Muslim). In one scene the lead pair suddenly break into a monologue about what the youth actually wants to vis-a-vis what the leaders think they want.
‘Luka Chuppi’, perhaps, tries a bit too hard to put in too many things in one film, thereby convoluting the plot by the end. Sure it has its moments, formidable performances by its lead pair with Kriti Sanon delivering a more nuanced performance than her last outing in ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ and Kartik Aaryan underplaying his character- yet the film fails to create a lasting impression- almost playing ‘hide and seek’ with logic and humour.