There is always a level of scepticism involved while reviewing offbeat romantic comedies. It’s become a bit of genre in Bollywood these days with Bareilly Ki Barfi, Stree, Badhai Ho and Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety dominating the box office. More and more people want to tell sweet, relatable stories that strike a chord with the average people rather than go with a high-fidelity story (Thugs of Hindostan, Zero) that fails to make a mark.
Luka Chuppi tells the story of an average young man named Guddu Shukla (Kartik Aaryan) and Rashmi Trivedi (Kriti Sanon) that will definitely make you wanting more of this genre. It’s a well-made romantic comedy that makes subtle social commentary without sermonizing (cough Sui Dhaaga cough). Guddi and Rashmi’s romance is lovable and hilarious without turning slapstick or overdone.
It’s the small town of Mathura where Guddu is a cable tv news reporter and Rashmi is the daughter of a Culture Protection Group’s head, Trivedi Ji (Vinay Pathak). Guddu and Rashmi soon fall in love but the small town won’t let them hang out like two consenting adults. Society here has already raised a hue and cry against the idea of a man or woman living together. So what do they do? They hide it from everyone, hence the name Luka Chuppi.
Director Laxman Utekar’s vision is crystal: he wants to tell a story about two people in love and demands why that’s such a bad thing. All they want to do is to live together before they actually get married. Rashmi’s character is forward-thinking and she immediately suggests this ‘live-in’ arrangement much to the surprise of Guddu. However, the only pitfall is how writer Rohan Shankar sees Rashmi’s character. Perhaps it is a common pitfall for most male writers when they begin or continue creating female protagonists. In Luka Chuppi, while we see that Rashmi has a progressive mindset, she wants to work after she gets married - once she is in a situation where she’s living with Guddu’s family, she merely nods at the idea of working. Her character’s stagnant development in the second half of the film is perhaps one of my very few issues with the narrative of the film. Another element that doesn’t make much sense is how the main problem of both the protagonists is merely to offer the ritual. For two individuals who are empowered and irreverent enough to dare to live life on their own terms, this is a bit of an inconsistency.
But these are small issues and I’m willing to look past them. Kartik Aaryan has a childlike charm to him that makes him impossible to dislike, ignore or forget. There’s kindness in his eyes, an honesty in his laugh and a simplicity in his demeanour that makes him likeable and extremely engaging. Kriti Sanon executes this role effortlessly. She’s naturally stylish, easy-going in her manner and appears thoroughly urban without trying, which makes her a perfect fit for a smart, modern young woman struggling with orthodox norms. The supporting cast is stellar. Pankaj Tripathi is hilarious and expertly provides comic relief as Babu Lal, Guddu’s sleazeball brother-in-law. Aparshakti Khurana as Abbas, Guddu’s best friend, with his deadpan humor and on- point dialogue delivery is one of the highlights of the film. While some of the songs may be a little blasé and the lyrics are slightly mind-boggling (Coca Cola tu? Seriously?) the film is a smooth two hours and six minutes long and doesn’t dull your brain cells or insult your intelligence.
Luka Chuppi is an enjoyable watch that is directed at a young audience who will find it very relatable. It also subtly touches upon various relevant and timely social issues. Go for it and have a good time at the movies!