Maddock Films present “Luka Chhupi”

Produced by: Dinesh Vijan

Directed by: Laxman Utekar

Written by: Rohan Shankar

Music: Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen, Tanishk Bagchi, White Noise, Abhijit Vaghani & Tony Kakkar

Starring: Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon, Aparshakti Khurrana, Vinay Pathak, Pankaj Tripathi, Alka Amin, Atul Srivastava, Abhinav Shukla, Himanshu Kohli, Vishwanath Chatterjee, Samarth, Neha Saraf, Ajit Singh, Arun Kushwah, Vimi Mehta, Sapna Sand, Sanjeev Vasta, Poonam Mathur, Jitendra Gaur and others

MUMBAI— It’s been a while since a mainstream comedy acutely disappointed. Last year was rich in humor-filled films like “Stree” (produced by this film’s producer Dinesh Vijan) “102 Not Out” (whose DOP was this film’s director) and “Badhai Ho” and even films like “Veere Di Wedding” and “Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety” (the last release of this movie’s hero Kartik Aaryan) had their strengths in humor or its undercurrent. Even a dark comedy like “Patakha,” an undeserving flop in “Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi” and the trite “Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se” had genuinely funny moments.

And this is where we find “Luka Chhupi” extremely disappointing. The idea of a live-in relationship and a couple living in with the boy’s family (!!) had a great intrinsic potential for hilarious humor if handled well. But Utekar takes the pseudo-route of bringing in dark elements like political opportunism and fundamentalism, dark tinges (like the line when the villain says that it is okay for a guilty man to be crippled by his henchmen as he has three other brothers!) and even venturing into cliché-ridden terrain by bringing in a Muslim young man as the hero’s best friend (Aparshakti Khurrana) and a Muslim superstar Nazim Khan (Abhinav Shukla) to show prejudice against followers of that religion.

Like many such “realistic” filmmakers, Utekar reaches to the other extreme as well – he makes his humor either childish or plain inane. The expressions of the hero’s mother (Alka Amin) and her wails, the stupid and finally senseless antics of the lustful in-house relative Babulal (Pankaj Tripathi’s worst, most buffoonish and most under-baked character to date!) are major irritants. The same is the case with the oh-so-in-your-face expressions of the hero’s father (Atul Srivastava) as well as the hero’s two brothers (Himanshu Kohli and Vishwanath Chatterjee) who seem to be permanently idling at home, even though they own a saree shop.

The story also shows a Hindu fanatic in leader Trivedi (Vinay Pathak) of the “Rashtriya Sanskriti Manch,” a political organization that is supposed to oppose West-induced concepts like “living-in” that pollute Indian “culture.” In a climax that could have gone solid (comic) places at a community wedding fest, the balloon bursts with an insipid, illogical and downright stupid climax in which Trivedi ends up like a scared mouse and just wants to connect with the youth that forms the bulk of his electorate.

Tickle and you may laugh describes best what passes off as humor in the film. The brattish Chiku (Samarth) is someone who is anything but cute and is resoundingly irritating. Babulal’s escapades are left halfway every time. While there is some kind of valid social statement (though of a pointless nature) in the uneducated daughter-in-law of the house burdened with domestic responsibilities and the educated one given exemption from such labor, the rest of the film simply does not connect or create empathy.

Forced humor is brought in, like Babulal chasing the two youngsters, their attempted marriage in a temple and at home in front of a makeshift ‘yagna’ (fire), or through the pestilential neighbor at Gwalior. The absurd overnight decoration there with wedding memorabilia may seem smart but fails to be logical. On the plus side, the first night the live-in couple spends together is shown very naturally and with sweet conviction. The only sequences that are mildly amusing are the TV interviews shown of lay women in Mathura, especially an old lady who praises the ‘live-in’ concept for a valid reason!

Oh yes, we forgot the one-line story: Trivedi’s Delhi-educated only child Rashmi (Kriti Sanon) and local star reporter Guddu Shukla (Kartik Aaryan) fall in love, but Rashmi insists on living-in before marriage. Since this is not possible in their hometown, they choose a 20-day assignment in Gwalior to rent a flat. And then, when caught, to prevent being termed a live-in couple, they pretend, even to their families, that they have already married. After this, both sides accept the couple, and the two love-birds actually yearn to be morally man and wife after a proper wedding. For this, again absurdly, they are even willing to break the law and marry under false identities!

Pretty little in this inane film makes any sense. The dialogues lack punch and quality humor, and the technical side is average. Writer Rohan Shankar and director Utekar try to deliver what they think is a nice social comedy but fail miserably. The end actually shows ‘live-in’ as the solution, and this is not going to go well with audiences pan-India, even the modern-thinking ones!

The acting department is rescued by Kriti Sanon, who is effortlessly natural as she lifts so many scenes, mainly with Kartik, and especially in the terrace sequence with her mother-in-law. Vinay Pathak tweaks his normal performance well into the stern politician’s role, but Kartik Aaryan, with his deadpan expressions that worked so well in his earlier hit comedies, just does not make any mark overall.

Like the film.

Rating: **

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