Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana

The title is precariously double-edged. It could suggest a dash of dry drollness. It might equally signal a surfeit of drossy, over-the-top flippancy. Happily, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana errs, if at all, on the side of the former. Simply put, this film is a little gem. A well-written and neatly crafted comedy woven around the life and times of a dhaba-owning family in a real Punjab hamlet, it is redolent as much of the smells and sounds of the soil as it is of the aroma of the delicious dish referred to in the title.

On one level, the film belongs to the flourishing genre of idiosyncratic slice-of-life narratives and character-driven dramas set in the north Indian heartland of Delhi and its environs (Khosla Ka Ghosla, Dev D., Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Do Dooni Chaar, Rockstar and Vicky Donor). On another, it harks back fondly to the era of innocence represented by the middle-of-the-road comedies that the likes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee once made with great distinction and flair.

But that is not to say that Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, directed by first-timer Sameer Sharma, is either old-fashioned or derivative. For one, it is probably the first-ever food-themed Hindi film. Despite its steadfast avoidance of formulaic plot devices and its deliberate pacing, it holds the attention of the audience, thanks to the tangibility of its gallery of grounded and rounded characters.

It has the rhythm of a slow food feast – it is languid, growing on the senses as it unfolds as gently as a seven-course meal. Barring one or two avoidable false strokes, especially in the climactic moments, the film remains firmly rooted in its simple, uncluttered essence.

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