For me, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana is like Kunal Kapoor's acting. It isn't in your face, saying â€œHey look at my performanceâ€. His performance can easily be mistaken for being inadequate. Same way, this film can also be easily mistaken for an average fare. The film doesn't say, â€œHey look I will win you overâ€. Although it does win you over, but it manages to do it organically instead of going the way most movies do. This is a quiet movie. It isn't loud like most films set in Punjab are. I love those movies as well but this one has different rewards.
Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana makes you feel you're in a small town in Punjab. Props to director Sameer Sharma for choosing to tell this story the way he wanted to instead of making it crisper, more entertaining. By compromising on things, which would have made it more filmy, he concentrates on telling a story, creating moments which feel genuine and intimate. The pacing is just right. If you've actually lived in a small town you'll find life does not exactly move fast there.
The film is about Omi Khurana (Kunal Kapoor) who returns to his pind after many years. Instead of coming back to get the bride or revel in nostalgia while discovering poverty with a patriotic song in the background, he is back purely for selfish reasons; he needs money to pay off a gangster. Omi decides to sell the Chicken Khurana recipe for a big amount and do away with his financial troubles. The problem is only Daarji (Vinod Nagpal) knows the secret ingredient and he has lost his memory. Consider the resolution of the gangster sub-plot. In a lesser film, it would have been something predictable but also stale.
To be honest, the story isn't the most original story out there. Then why does the film work so well? The music is great. Amit Trivedi is going strong as he produces yet another terrific album. (He is the best musician in our country today). That sure makes the film look good but what is that one thing? I would say the not-so-secret ingredient and the obvious reason why the film works well is the casting.
Titu Mama is the character everyone talks about after they exit the theater and for good reason. Rajesh Sharma is an actor of immense talent. Huma Qureshi is wonderful as Harman, I can't pick any other actress currently working in the film industry who could look like more like a Punjaban than she does. I can't wait to see her in more movies. (I also hope she makes good choices while selecting her films). Albeit, my favorite feat of casting is the Chachi. If there is any character in this film who felt perfectly placed in a film like this, it would be her. Seema Kaushal doesn't act, she â€œisâ€. I won't be surprised to learn that she actually stays in a similar house with a similar family.
This reminds me of the flashback we see which reveals the secret ingredient to us. If I had to pick out what was the secret ingredient of the film, it is this flashback. By giving us information, which the characters in the film don't know but we do, it makes an inspired choice, which I believe makes all the difference. We may not notice it, just like the secret ingredient, just like Kunal Kapoor, just like Chachi. But this is what counts and brings us back to place the same order at the same restaurant.