(Published in The New Sunday Express, on 4 November, 2012, retrieved from http://newindianexpress.com/entertainment/reviews/article1326374.ece)
Cast: Kunal Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Rajesh Sharma, Vinod Nagpal, Dolly Ahluwalia, Rahul Bagga
Director: Sameer Sharma
Rating: 3.5 stars
When you’ve run away to London, leaving behind a jilted girlfriend and a heartbroken family whose savings you stole after they put a roof over your head, you don’t go back. Well, unless someone wants your head unless you can bring him 50,000 pounds. And when you do go back, you ideally don’t tell your adoring family that you’re scraping the bottom of your bank locker...or that your life is under threat unless you can cough up a seven-zero figure. This is the conundrum faced by Omi Khurana (Kunal Kapoor), a selfish squanderer who’s regularly proven he is unreliable.
Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana masquerades as the talaash for a recipe that is only known to a senile old man whom everyone calls Daarji (Vinod Nagpal). But rather than make it just about the hunt, the filmmakers have chosen to look at how relationships between people evolve during the search. The colourful supporting cast provides for a happy caper through Punjab, complete with its curses, quirks, and hilarity.
This film may have been several times better than it was, if it had a better lead actor than Kunal Kapoor, but since he doesn’t have too much to do, he doesn’t ruin the film. In fact, you hardly notice him for the bakhwaas-spouting Titu Mama (Rajesh Sharma), who doubles as something of a sidekick. Dolly Ahluwalia shines in her cameo as the godwoman, Sant Buaji, and Huma Qureshi easily outdoes her more experienced male lead.
While the actors bolster the film, the dialogues will make you laugh anyway. You do shake your head at the idiosyncrasies of a culture in which chaddi and chai etiquette can become topics of lengthy conversation. Naturally, there are several scenes involving the reactions of the townsfolk to the return of the prodigal. And most of them ask Omi the questions everyone asks someone who’s returned from abroad. You know, the did-you-meet-Obama, do-you-wave-to-the-Queen, and so on. Though it’s a cliché, you laugh along, because if you haven’t been asked the question yourself, you’ve seen someone else confronted with it.
The film is often charming, like a scene where a couple flirts with cusswords, often predictable, and often gross. It captures the larger-than-life Punjabiyat, and the warm-heartedness and easygoing nature of its people, without casting them into stereotypes.
The Verdict: Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana is a light-hearted feel-good film that will make you leave the cinema with a smile on your face.