‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’ is a welcome relief from the noise of the upcoming Diwali releases. Calm, warm and beautiful, almost like the Lalton village, it is set in. For a food movie, it doesn’t have enough food moments like ‘Tampopo’ or ‘Eat drink man woman’ but it makes up for it through the quirks and the characters.
A buaa who is a sanyaasan (Dolly Ahluwalia), smokes pot, sings “beedi jaleile” type bhajans and curses on the side, is a treat to watch. The titular Khurana or Daarji (Vinod Nagpal) farts away to glory and says it is necessary to fart around family members as it increases the love. He is outrageously funny in his scenes (possibly a hangover I carry from Khosla ka Ghosla and earlier DD moments). The other quirky characters include a doting mother who only loves, a younger brother who wants to be like his elder brother, a underwear selling shopkeeper, London gangsters, a highway Dhabawala who wants the recipe of Chicken Khurana and a mysterious Bengali widow.
Which brings us to the lead pair of Omi (Kunal Kapoor) and Harman (Huma Qureishi). Kunal is a natural and is likeable throughout the movie. I wish Kunal Kapoor gets more quality work like this and doesn’t end up a one-hit wonder. He is able to portray the internal guilt and conflict effectively. Huma Qureishi is lovely. The character of Harman seems an extension of Mohsina from Wasseypur at times but I am not complaining. She plays the character of the Punjaban to a T. Her scenes with Kunal Kapoor are crackling, especially when they cook together. I loved the joke about the name on the green board and cracked up. Also charming are the scenes when they drive on her bike.
However the reason I loved the movie so much was because of Rajesh Sharma, who as Tito Mama delivers the breakout performance of the year. Tito Mama is also the character, I identified with, the most. A food lover, Titto stays at the Khurana’s because he is lazy and loves ‘Chicken Khurana’, the dish. He doesn’t want unnecessary conversation when good food is present and is only worried about “swaadisht khaana.” He is consistently funny throughout the movie and unflinching in his attitude towards life and food.
The cooking scenes are nicely done but the details are missing. There is a lot of emotion but the food is missing. There is no chicken in Luv Shuv tey chicken Khurana. Okay, minimal. Being a foodie and someone who can cook meat (marinate and all that jazz), and especially after a recent, gastronomically explosive trip through Lawrence Road and Jalebi Chowk, Amritsar (Surjeet’s butter chicken, Beera’s tandoori chicken and the Amritsari fish at Makhan are still fresh in memory), I missed the food in Luv Shuv.
For a meat lover, it is almost blasphemy but I am not complaining. Post Bawarchi, I think this is the funniest Indian food movie I have scene. Cheeni Kum was an Amitabh Bachchan movie and don’t delude yourself into believing that it was a food movie despite the Hyderabadi Zafrani pulao angle which is only consumed in a parallel universe (In real Hyderabad they just eat Dum Biryani and saalan). I have been told that ‘Salt n’ Pepper’ is a decent candidate for the food movie cateogory. It is on my wishlist.
A good reference point for food in Indian cinema is this song from Mayabazaar, which, as a friend tells me, describes food in excruciating detail. You may also talk about Kalakalappu, A Tamil comedy about two brothers trying to save their Masala Cafe. There is also Madhavan’s Ramji Londonwale. However, these are again just appetizers and the main course is yet to be delivered. Still, ‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’ is delicious.
The music by Amit Trivedi works like a charm. On a day, I missed Rahman on MTV Unplugged, I was saved by the musical genius of Amit Trivedi. Luni and Kikli are the stars in an outstanding album. The lyrics are funny at times but the Punjabi folk inspired music is beautiful. Compare this with the other fraud Punjabi movie, which has “Po Po” positioned as its chart-buster.
To quote Harman from the movie, “More jeera than required, a tad more heeng than necessary and maybe a few spices are burnt, but it is very well done.” It’s not perfect like Daarji’s original Chicken Khurana but it is an attempt in the right direction. The movie appeals to the senses and now has made me hungry enough to at least try and cook Chicken Khurana. Off to the kitchen.