Luka Chuppi review: Pankaj Tripathi is the unlikely victim of this Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon comedy
Director - Laxman Utekar
Cast - Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon, Aparshakti Khurana, Pankaj Tripathi
Rating - 2.5
There is something about Pankaj Tripathi. His presence in a film/web series/advertisement/music video/on a juice stall poster makes you believe that whatever he is a part of will be wholesome and fulsome. You want to order that glass of mix juice because you believe it will be a more honest glass of mix juice. You hope that the political parties don’t find out about this superpower of Pankaj Tripathi’s because who knows how they will use it.
And it is when Luka Chuppi takes Pankaj Tripathi, dresses him up in red trousers, a yellow shirt and green sunglasses; saddles him with a clichéd role and worse dialogues, that you want to give up. Tripathi still manages to carry it off – with great power comes great responsibility, and our actor knows it – but just about.
Watch the Luka Chuppi trailer here
In the above two paragraphs lies the inherent problem with Luka Chuppi – it takes good material and excellent performers and turns them into caricatures. Sure, it has its moments and the second half is largely enjoyable, but you have to wait for the fun. After a slew of excellent small-town dramas, my expectations are high and my patience thin.
At the heart of the story is the moral policing in India and the refusal of our self-appointed moral guardians to allow any kind of sexual agency to the youth over their own lives. Film actor Nazeem Khan (Abhinav Shukla) becomes the enemy number one of the Sanskriti Raksha Manch – the name is self explanatory – after he accepts that he is in a live-in relationship. They can’t beat up Khan for destroying our sanskriti, so they do the next best thing – attack defenceless lovers in the by-lanes of Mathura.
Heading this organization is Vinay Pathak’s Vishnu Trivedi, whose religious grandstanding is in the hope of winning the upcoming election. Rashmi (Kriti Sanon) is his daughter, who has returned home to Mathura after finishing her journalism course in Delhi. Kartik Aaryan’s Guddu, with his spiked hair and the reputation of being a one-star kalaakar, is the star of the local news channel.
The two soon become a team, joined by Aparshakti Khurana’s Abbas – the channel’s cameraman. The trio scours Mathura -- doing a vox pop of sorts to understand what people largely feel about the divisive topic of live-in relationships; the best comments come from where we least expect it – a man clad in saffron. Love soon blossoms between Kriti and Kartik, but instead of taking the saat pheras, Rashmi wants to test their compatibility via a live-in.
It is left to Abbas to find a way for the young lovers to find a sanctuary outside the confines of a small-town. They head to Gwalior – pronounced ‘Gawalior’, as is the wont in the region -- on the pretext of conducting a journalism project and take an apartment, without telling their families.
The thorn in Guddu’s flesh is his meddlesome relative Babulal (Pankaj Tripathi) who finds his love nest and brings the entire family – parents, brothers, sister-in-law and nephew -- there. A quickly made-up tale of the two being married spirals out of control as Rashmi’s father gets involved. The two find themselves living in Guddu’s family home as a married couple without ever having exchanged vows.
After a staid first half, the second half lifts off as the ensemble cast gets a bigger role to play and the narrative moves away from the love story to various aborted attempts on the part of Kriti and Kartik to get married. If the first half only attempts to give that lived-in feeling that such small-town social dramas thrive on, after the interval there are a few of those shining moments, with the trio of Aparshakti Khurana, Pankaj Tripathi and Vinay Pathak responsible for most.
Kartik is good as the small-time boy who is at the receiving end of a mess he didn’t make. With no misogynistic dialogues (cue Pyar Ka Punchnaama 1, 2 and 3, aka Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety) it is a win-win for all. Kriti gets a backstory to explain her urbane mannerisms; and as an empowered Rashmi who refuses to accept the role society forces in her, she is believable.
The film has a positive message but it takes its own sweet time coming. However, I will take what we are getting in today’s political climate. Aparshakti’s Abbas, who has had enough of everyday religious bias, tells a man, “Alien nahi hu, Muslim hu.” The hypocrisy of vigilante justice in the name of saving our sanskriti is called out, “Yeh dharm nahi hai, mudda hai chunaav ke liye.” An extra half star, just for that.