Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Served, Punjabi style

(Published on 4 November, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/served-punjabi-style)




Cast: Kunal Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Rajesh Sharma, Vinod Nagpal, Dolly Ahluwalia
Director: Sameer Sharma
Rating: 3.5 stars
The characters are types. The setting is Punjab. The quest is a recipe. Chunks of the film are predictable. And, somehow, against your will, you find yourself laughing at the lowbrow humour in Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. You’re forced to give the film a chance when the headhunt happens in London, and the romance in a Punjab with more dirty drains than paddy fields.
Omi Khurana (Kunal Kapoor), who’s spent most of his life betraying one trusting person after the other, comes back to a deserted home that’s quickly populated by old acquaintances, eager to fawn on the “foreign return”, never mind the circumstances of his departure ten years ago. The theatrical trailer laid out most of the admittedly thin plot – the secret of a signature family recipe is locked into an old man’s dementia-afflicted memory. If Daarji (Vinod Nagpal) dies, it dies with him, depriving a rival of the recipe, and his descendants of a fair amount of money.
‘Home’ is a town where Ambassadors provide the taxi service, and where your ex-lover could become your sister-in-law, because there are so few “good families” left in the village. I went in expecting the Punjabi stereotypes we’re used to in Bollywood, but even the over-the-top characters are played with conviction, so that they endear themselves to us. While there are typically Punjabi quirks, most Indians will find equivalents in their own cultures.
I suppose it’s bound to happen in any film that hinges on food, but there’s a tad too much toilet humour, and this distracts from some genuinely clever lines and excellent timing. The film takes its time getting to the crux, making us impatient for it to move on to the meat. But it’s saved by good casting, and a script that rescues it from going overboard.
The characters drive the film, each contributing something to the plot. And though the story is populated by the crazy Titu Mama (Rajesh Sharma), the spirited love interest (Huma Qureshi), the adoring cousin (Rahul Bagga), the Sant Buaji (Dolly Ahluwalia), and the suspicious uncle (Rajendra Sethi), the actors pull off idiosyncrasies that could easily be overplayed. You find yourself warming up to their little stories. The relationships in the story evolve rather nicely, and though Kunal Kapoor’s thespian skills haven’t grown much, he looks the part of the character he plays.
The Verdict: It’s a feat when comedy based on caricature appears realistic. If you’re into light-hearted feel-good films, you won’t regret this one-time watch.

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