Movie Review: LUV SHUV TEY CHICKEN KHURANA by FENIL SETA

Every second person I know well is a foodie. Food is an intrinsic part of our lives in our country. Guests are not expected to leave the host’s residence without having the customary meal. Food assumes maximum importance in weddings. One will forgive the ladkewaale and ladkiwaale for apology in the name of marriage venue, lights, flowers, seating arrangements etc but would not forgive them for apology in the name of food. Then there are restaurants that turn legendary for serving the most delicious and ‘exclusive’ food dishes. Many of them have their own recipes which are kept secret and any rival restaurateur might be ready to go to any length to get hold of that secret. Funnily and strangely enough, in a country so obsessed with food, there are hardly any films that completely revolved around khana khazaana. Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana attempts to be the first one in this regard and does a fairly neat job. Interesting watch!

The story of the movie: Omi Khurana (Kunal Kapoor) is based in London. After getting into the wrong books of gangster Shanty (Manish Mukhija), Omi goes back to his hometown – Lalton, Punjab – and gives a totally false picture about his financial status to his family. Omi soon realizes that times have changed for the Khurana family. Darji (Vinod Nagpal), Omi’s grandfather, who used to run a popular dhaba, has gone senile and has lost memory as well. As a result, the secret recipe of Darji’s Chicken Khurana – the mouthwatering dish that made their dhaba ‘world famous in Punjab’ – is lost too. Subsequently, their much-adored dhaba had to close down. Omi can solve all his problems and end confrontation with Shanty if he finds the lost recipe of Chicken Khurana. Would he able to do so, especially when time is running out?

Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana is funny, sweet and a complete family entertainer. One will definitely leave the theatre with a smile. But this smile could have been broader if the pace was consistent. The initial portions were shaky and move at a snail’s pace. There are moments in the first hour where the film goes on a high but falls down soon enough! One feels cheated and curses the makers for misleading promos! But fortunately, film gets on track gradually. The intermission point is outstanding and revives interest in the film. The second hour is a fun ride and the manner in which viewers find out about the secret recipe is howlarious! Hats off to the writer-director duo! The climax is touching and raises lots and lots of laughs! One comes out of the theatre feeling refreshed for having seen a witty, out-of-the-box, ORIGINAL and at the same time grounded family entertainer!

Kunal Kapoor gives a fine performance. The actor has a great screen presence and dialogue delivery and plays his part well. Huma Qureshi (Harman) looks stunning and was apt for the role. Her bitter-sweet bond with Kunal was lovely. Rajesh Sharma (Titu Mama) was undoubtedly the best performer in the film. He gets to essay a very interesting character and he performs it with panache! After Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture and Chaalis Chauraasi, here’s one more superlative performance from this talented actor! Great going!

Rajendra Sethi (Omi’s chacha) was great and good to see him getting a little lengthier role. Vinod Nagpal hardly mouths dialogues and yet leaves a mark. Rahul Bagga (Jeet) was fabulous and has a significant part in the film. Anangsha Biswas (Shama) looks beautiful. Vipin Sharma (Kehar Singh) as always leaves a mark. Munish Mukhija was too good as the evil guy. Seema Kaushal (Omi’s chachi), Herry Tangri (Lovely), Dolly Ahluwalia (Bua ji) and others too play their respective parts well.

Amit Trivedi’s music is soulful. Except Kikli, rest of the songs are beautifully integrated with the narrative. Luni Hasi is the best of the lot followed by the title track. Trivedi’s background score works and great to see the composer getting into this aspect of music as well. Mitesh Mirchandani’s cinematography is stunning. Somehow, one feels that one is almost there in then dusty bylanes of the Punjabi town!

Sumit Batheja’s story, screenplay and dialogues are what make the film a complete winner. Dialogues are superb and raise hordes of laughs. Story is refreshing while script has loose ends but works in entity. Characters look real, even though they commit buffoonery acts. Rajesh Sharma, for instance! One takes an instant liking to his character and even sympathizes with him in a scene. My favourite Titu Mama scene has to be the one when he passes ‘Oye Saira Banu’ comment! Damn funny!

Debutant director Sameer Sharma does an overall great job, though he falters in the starting scenes. However, he soon gets hold of the plot thankfully. A director should make things seem convincing and that’s where Sameer succeeds. Audiences have got used to seeing Punjab in full glory where people are always celebrating and doing bhangra. Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana attempts to show a real and somber side of the state and succeeds to a great extent. Moreover, all scenes involving the crow could have gone wrong but Sameer handles it well. Not the best directorial debut but certainly a good one and hope Sharma does even better in his next projects!

Some of the best scenes:
1. Omi returns to his house in Lalton
2. Omi’s flashback
3. Omi goes to buy underwear with Titu Mama
4. Omi meets Shama
5. The intermission point
6. Omi attempting to make Chicken Khurana
7. The last 30 minutes

On the whole, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana is a whole-hearted family entertainer that surely deserves a watch. The performances are praiseworthy, dialogues funny and story-script-dialogues refreshing despite having rough edges at places. Most importantly, it’s a film about food and has loads of ‘mouth-watering’ scenes that makes Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana stand out. It’s unfortunate that the film opened to poor houses. Hope audiences go for this film in hordes and make it a huge success that it rightfully deserves!

My rating-*** ½ out of 5!

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