LSTCK: An attempt at making a romantic comedy

Mumbai: Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana follows the framework of films like Khosla Ka Gosla and Vicky Donor: a modest star cast, single location and a romantic comedy about one family in a rural background. The idea is to provide entertainment one can identify with despite its totally regional flavour.

Vinod Nagpal, the patriarch of the Khurana family, has gone senile, lost his memory and cannot even recognise his own family. What is worse, his once thriving Punjabi food dhaba is now ramshackle because the recipe of the famous Chicken Khurana for which the people thronged his dhaba is not known to other family members. Nagpal never shared the recipe with anybody else and is in no condition to do so now.

The Khurana household consists of Nagpal‘s younger son, Rajendra Sethi, his wife, Seema Kaushal, their son, Rahul Bagga, a loyal servant, Anjum Batra, and a freeloading Mama, Rajesh Sharma, who pretends to be a mental case just so that he gets all the comforts of life without working. Missing from the scene is Omi Khurana (Kunal Kapoor), Nagpal‘s favourite grandson, an orphan.

Kunal Kapoor is prospect hunting in London for a decade now where he has landed after stealing from Nagpal‘s closet to make a new life. Ten years in the UK and all he has to show for it is a 50,000 pound debt to a local Mafioso. Having to either pay back the money or take a bullet, it is time for Kapoor to revisit the Khurana household where he can clean out the closet again and escape the bully. So after wasting ten years in UK, he is back home in his native Punjab, having to contend with his reluctant chacha and brimming-with-love chachi and cousin.

The old man Nagpal is beyond recognising him anyway. There is also the neighbourhood belle, Huma Qureshi, to whom he left his last love note promising to come back for her after making it big in the UK. She is now a doctor and engaged to be married to his cousin, Rahul Bagga. So that he is accepted back instantly, Kapoor weaves a story about being a successful lawyer in London with a villa and a red Ferrari at his disposal.

The old man, the pioneer of the Chicken Khurana, kicks the bucket and Kapoor is willed the family dhaba in his dying deed. He thinks of it as something he can sell and pay back his debts and return to London. There is a buyer in the next door dhaba owner but not without the recipe of the Chicken Khurana thrown in! Desperate to liquidate his dhaba, Kapoor now sets out to experiment with cooking chicken every evening with the help of Qureshi, in the process also rekindling their childhood romance. All the spices and combinations are tried but that one ingredient eludes them which made chicken the chicken Khurana!

When, finally, the ingredient behind the success of the Khurana Dhaba is found accidently, it turns out to be something totally off a kitchen shelf. Kapoor is now ready to liquidate his dhaba and repay his debt and go back to chase his dream again. The legal deeds are drawn and cash ready to be accepted. But our hero is by now too committed to his granddad‘s dhaba and his love, Quereshi. The great Punjabi Indian drama paves the way for all to live happily ever after as everybody bares his or her soul to let out their secrets. The good-for-nothing mama proves to be good at least once when he helps get rid of the London gangster troubling Kapoor.

Lus Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana is made on a very compact budget and it shows in the film‘s casting, with Kunal Kapoor and Huma Qureshi sharing the top billing as the only known faces. The locations are no-frills and there are no crowds. With these limitations, the film moves slowly for most of its first part and for a while in the second half passing of some crude jokes as comedy. It is only towards the end that there is some romance and some fun moments to entertain.

Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana falls flat as a comedy.

1920 - Evil Returns: A routine story with notable cinematography

1920 - Evil Returns has the advantage of being a brand since producer Vikram Bhatt‘s earlier film, 1920, was a success. Horror genre is one way of making a film in limited budget and also a genre where one can take chances with new faces besides basing the story around one or two locations. While 1920 was directed by Bhatt, this one is directed by Bhushan Patel.

Aftab Shivdasani, a poet, finds an unconscious Tia Bajpai near the lake and as would be expected, brings her home. Aftab‘s sister, Vidya Malvade, is not very happy with a stranger at home. Soon Shivdasani realizes that Bajpai has lost her memory and only remembers his poetries; why waste time establishing love angle? He decides to take her to Shimla for treatment. Halting at a guest house on the way, the horror effect sets in, Bajpai is possessed! Rest of the scaring is left to sound effects and background score. After all, how much can you do with a routine story and three main characters in the cast?

The treatment of the film is routine with scant chance in the script to show a spark. In this slowly moving film, music only makes the going duller. Cinematography is good. Of the performers, only Bajpai has scope since she is the one possessed. Shivdasani is his usual self. Malvade and Sharad Kelkar are okay.

1920 - Evil Returns has opened well considering a dull pre-Diwali period thanks to the success of 1920.

Ata Pata Laapata: Addressing the flawed system with Nautanki

Ata Pata Laapata, long time in the making, is actor Rajpal Yadav‘s foray into direction. Described as ‘Organised Chaos‘, chaos it is, but there is nothing organised about it. The film is crammed with every recognisable character artiste available in the film industry or on television and they are let loose in front of the camera to challenge the decibel meters‘ capacity. No character talks alone, the whole film‘s soundtrack being one loud chorus.

The film‘s narration proceeds in Nautanki style. Nautanki was the major source of entertainment before films, especially in North India in which performers alternated between verse and prose, dance and skit. In Ata Pata Laapata the director takes a dig at the system. The protagonist, Yadav himself, reports his house missing from where it stood. The police promise to trace it in ten days, the insurance company believes the house was never there and the politician is contemplating how to use the situation to his advantage. As the film comes to end, the house has been forgotten.

The director tries to keep the frames colourful and crowded; no frame is wasted for a single character. The locations are plenty and pleasant to the eye but since most shots are tight and full of characters, they lose the impact. Despite a horde of talented artistes, it is Yadav himself who dominates the screen.

The film, reportedly costing Rs 180 million, adds nothing worthy to the archives of films. Rather, it gives a bad name to the art of Nautanki.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Old is gold

Kundan Shah‘s 1983 satire, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, is one of the films National Film Development Corporation (NDFC) can be proud of. Though it deals with corruption in a metro like Mumbai at the municipal level, the film is a rip-roaring comedy. Made with a budget of Rs 744000 in those days, the film‘s digitally corrected version has been rereleased this week at limited locations.

The story is about two friends, Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani, who open a photo studio across the road from the headquarters of Khabardar magazine, run by Bhakti Barve. They expect to get all the assignments from her. Right from the inauguration, things don‘t quite go the way they had hoped. Not a single guest comes to bless the venture and three months after the opening not a single customer has walked in to be clicked. To add to their woes, the rent collector is knocking at the door.

That is when their hopes soar. An assignment is offered by Barve to click the proximity and monies changing hands between a builder, Pankaj Kapur, and the municipal commissioner, Satish Shah. Barve wants to expose the nexus, which makes the photographer duo more enthusiastic. Kapur is in stiff competition with another builder, Om Puri, and Shah plays each against the other making money from the warring builders.

While clicking the pictures, Shah and Baswani are always at the right place at the right time, including when discovering the murdered Shah. They are in the wrong place only once; hanging around the newly built bridge which is fated to collapse the next day. Shah and Baswani are caught in a quagmire of scheming and plotting and even if this may sound like a serious story, it is thrills combined with funny situations all the way till end. The climax on stage during the costume drama of Mahabharat is hilarious to say the least.

The film has a line-up of talented artistes in Naseeruddin Shah, Baswani, Barve, Satish Shah, Puri, Kapur, Satish Kaushik, Neena Gupta, Deepak Qazir, Rajesh Puri, Ashok Banthia, Uday Chandra and Vinod Chopra.

The film was made for NFDC but it is more like a cooperative product with some FTII colleagues as well as artistes helping in the making in various departments. The film is a triumph of its writers‘ team: Kundan Shah, Sudhir Mishra and Ranjit Kapoor and the masterstroke by director Kundan Shah who together have made the film evergreen.

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