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Small Town Shenanigans

Saturday, March 02, 2019
By Deepa Gahlot

Luka Chuppi
Director:
Laxman Utekar
Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon, Aparshakti Khurana, Vinay Pathak and others
Rating: * *

The film is set in Mathura, not mars, but the characters behave as if they have just discovered live-in relationships!

In Laxman Utekar’s Luka Chuppi, a Mathura politician Vishnu Trivedi (Vinay Pathak) has his goons go around moral policing the town in the name of Bhartiya Sanskriti, and blacklist a movie star who declared that he was for live-in relationships.

Trivedi’s daughter Rashmi (Kriti Sanon) returns from Delhi (with a wardrobe of shorts and tank tops!) and joins a local news team, whose star reporter is Guddu Shukla (Kartik Aaryan) and cameraman Abbas (Aparsakti Khurana). Inevitably, Rashmi and Guddu fall in love--she doesn’t fall for Abbas, which would make it a different film altogether and not a comic one! She wants a trial live-in before marriage. Abbas suggests they make use of an assignment in Gwalior and helps them rent a flat, so that they can play at a pretend marriage.

Mercifully, the film isn’t coy about sex, but there is the mandatory nosy neighbour, for whose benefit they have to display fake marriage photos. Then, there’s a pesky uncle (Pankaj Tripathi wasted as the garishly-dressed, woman-stalking creep), who discovers the secret and brings the whole Shukla clan to Gwalior. So the pretence has to carry on, because they can’t possibly admit the ‘living-in-sin’ to the family, and certainly not to Trivedi. Guddu’s older brother, who is still unmarried, is very offended that he was left behind and cribs at every opportunity.

Rashmi, quickly reduced from a potential media career to peeling vegetables in the kitchen, also loses her boldness and insists on a proper marriage with mantra chanting and walk around the fire. So they keep trying get married and failing… all of which is contrived and very unconvincing.

There are a few laugh-out-loud scenes, but not enough material here for a full-length comedy. The casual discrimination Abbas faces as a Muslim is brought up and brushed under the carpet. The film makes a point telling politicians to leave young people alone to make their own decisions, but for that one has to sit through two hours of watching some of the most irritating characters seen in the spate of recent small town.

It’s good to see Vinay Pathak back in form; Kartik Aaryan, not playing a misogynis for a change, does the best he can with the ill-defined role, but it’s Aparshakti Khurana, who could teach the rest on how to be funny without being loud.

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