Luka Chuppi Movie Review: A youth-centric entertainer, this film deserves to be watched by all

Live in relationships CAN culminate in marriage. But what if marriage leads back to living in?

Director: Laxman Utekar

Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon, Aparshakti Khurana, Alka Amin, Atul Srivastava, Pankaj Tripathi, Vinay Pathak

Image Source: Google

Whoever knew, that come January, 2019 would soon turn into the year when lines between politics and entertainment would blur to reveal the zeitgeist of what truly drives India- desh bhakti, the lampooning of subjective desh droh – especially the kind that is accompanied by having an opinion and an honest criticism of the government, and of course, the ultra-predictable sanskaar.

So if Uri made your chest swell with nationalist pride, and The Accidental Prime Minister woke you up to the horrors of a largely silent ex-Prime Minister suffering under the thumb of dynasty politics, there’s Battalion 909 and Vivek Oberoi-led PM Narendra Modi later this year to help buff up these nationalist sentiments. I am not against beaming from ear-to-ear when it comes to saluting our armed forces for their exemplary courage and unparalleled sacrifices, but to bite into electoral fodder every other Friday is hardly my idea of entertainment. Thankfully, we are still breathing democracy, and have the chance to lap up some engaging, visual stories of what nationalism could look like. director Laxman Utekar’s Luka Chuppi falls bang in the middle of this nationalism train (actually, anti-nationalism), and delivers a hard-hitting message, albeit, softly and humorously, averting a wreckage imminent in such scenarios.

The Plot

Luka Chuppi revolves around the bane of young Indians hankering for sexual agency and privacy – when confronted with self-appointed moral guardians lurking at every corner, all prepared to disgrace them, should they sidestep bharatiya sanskriti. This pack of crazy fundamentalists consists of members of the honourable Sanskriti Raksha Manch (cough cough) – an organization responsible for keeping uncultured, anti-national youth in check. At the start of the movie, the poster boy of anti-national, unsanskritik behavior happens to be actor Nazim Khan (Abhinav Shukla) who faces probing questions posed by the media for being in a live-in relationship. Elsewhere, in Mathura, ordinary hapless couples end up facing the ire of the Raksha Manch so they do not even dare think of innocent romance, let alone dream of living in.

Soon enough, the tentacles of moral policing cloud the town before being seized by a local news channel for the usual journalistic minting.  This is where we meet Guddu Shukla (Kartik Aaryan), a star reporter of the said news channel, who is entrusted with an exciting new project: interviewing local people to hear their thoughts about live-in relationships. His friend and the channel’s cameraman Abbas (Aparshakti Khurana) is to join him on this mission. However, before the duo can set off decoding the locals’ views on live-in relationships, in walks Delhi-returned journalism graduate Rashmi Trivedi with her father, seeking to intern at the news studio before hitting the job market.

As the trio set about interviewing sadhus, old women and touchy nationalist men on the streets, Guddu and Rashmi steal a few moments to make eyes at each other, engage in banter – quickly falling in love. Guddu, being the small town man he is, makes the leap by proposing marriage. Except, Rashmi isn’t impressed and wants to try out living in with him first before the much-dreaded saat pheras. Guddu reluctantly consents to it; there’s only one little glitch in this arrangement: Rashmi is Vishnu Trivedi’s daughter, the leader of the Raksha Manch aka the vulture pack prowling around the city and hunting for their next victim.  

Left with no option, Abbas, the loyal wingman suggests they try out this arrangement in Gwalior, away from the prying eyes of their families, in the guise of working on a journalism assignment. The deal is sealed and the two head off on a month’s adventure, basking in the throes of a new romance. There is sex, there is humour, there are talks of dividing household chores between the two as well as plenty of theatrics involving sindoor, mangalsutra and fake tacky wedding pictures to fool the neighbours. In short, it is a jolly good ride until they are caught snuggling by Babulal (Pankaj Tripathi), Guddu’s relative.

In less than 24 hours, they’re jerked wide awake from planning romantic destination weddings to playing “husband and wife” for their families, over and over and over.

What transpires from living in before marriage to still “living in” in a full-fledged marital setup is what forms the spine of Luka Chuppi.

Execution

From the word go, Luka Chuppi succeeds in drilling into your head the perils of indulging in young romance in a country like India. Be it the Sanskriti Raksha Manch’s hooligan-like antics in the beginning, Guddu and Rashmi’s sneaky live-in romance against the backdrop of the culture police or their desperation to living in like a sanskaari married couple, the urgency in these critical moments is palpable.

Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon and perfectly cast for their respective roles, and fit in easily into their characters. While the chemistry between the two is hardly crackling, the duo is easy on the eyes and manages to draw genuine curiosity, sympathy and laughs from the audience. Thankfully, Kartik does not have yet another lengthy monologue as was the case in Pyaar ke Punchnama (which actually set off this bizarre trend) and Sonu Ke Titu ki Sweety, or dish out sexist dialogues in favour of bromance as was the norm in both these movies.

Image Source: Google

The film’s humour is the situational kind that you may have come to love if you’ve ever watched cult picks like Hera Pheri, Hungama, Hulchul and others of this genre. That said, it’s only in the second half when Luka Chuppi actually feels like a comedy of errors and tickles your funny bones, hard. A large supporting cast is intricately involved in the romance and boasts of weirdos such as Guddu’s much-older, single brother who feels betrayed much by the younger brother’s secret marriage and is merely a brink away from falling into irreversible depression.

Others in the cast include the top of the crop like Atul Srivastava (who plays the stumped father yet again mentoring his supposedly libidinous son on sanskaar) and Alka Amin (yet again the indulgent mother). Vinay Pathak plays the leader of the Raksha Manch and Rashmi’s father, his sole aim being to crack the election using the religious and cultural card. While earnest and at times even funny, Pathak’s role seems to have been written in a lopsided fashion – almost as if the writers could not make up their mind as to how they wished to paint him. On the other hand, Aparshakti Khurana, who seems to have undoubtedly mastered being the hero’s sidekick, plays it down for the film, securing a neat place as one of the highlights of the movie.

It is, however, Tripathi, dunked generously in broad strokes of a small-town stereotypical Romeo – donning shocking red trousers and a mismatched shirt – I had the most expectations from, which, I’m glad to say were largely met. Given the blatant typecasting, it is obvious the makers intended to write Tripathi’s character purely as a comic relief; nevertheless, it is to the award-winning actor’s credit that he prevents Babulal from slipping into that homogenous box and instead turns it into a key link in the chain of events in Luka Chuppi.

Winning Moments

In a film about sanskaar (or the lack thereof), what else can make an audience sit up and take notice than the words of a saffron-clad sadhu endorsing live-in relationships by alluding to the ancient yet controversial tale of love between Radha-Krishna! Then there is swag with which Abbas handles dad Trivedi’s tacit disapproval of his religion, and by that token, his existence. The cherry on the cake, however, sits pretty in the implied accusation that well, the Raksha Manch has little to do with dharm, and more to do with chunaavi mudda.  I kid you not, at this point, I was sitting with the stupidest grin on my face.

But you know what truly hits home with the film? Its rather straightforward, simple approach to young romance and the perils thereof, in a divided nation like India.

What else does the film score on?

The music. The movie is peppered with just the right number of songs to temper the slightly long-ish runtime and the occasional repetitive humour. Barring Poster Lagwa Do (sung by Nikita Gandhi), the remaining are generously infused with Punjabi lyrics and are a fun mix of slow romantic to high-on-beat music. My personal favourite is Tu Laung Main Elaaichi (Tulsi Kumar), a remake of 2018’s massive hit wedding song that, in Luka Chuppi, incidentally turns things around for the duo. In fact, since I watched the movie, I’ve listened to it no less than 20 times!

Yay or Nay?

Luka Chuppi, despite its obvious flaws is earnest, mostly hilarious yet social relevant – without being preachy. Plus, at a time when being political (and expressing condemnation of the powers that be) can get you trolled, fired from your job and everything else you may not have possibly imagined, Luka Chuppi is an act of courage.  That makes it at least a one-time watch, and yay, yay, yay! All the way!

Rating: 3.75/5

14 most anticipated Bollywood releases of 2019

From thrillers to comedy, to biopics and more, catch the most anticipated releases of Bollywood here

The year 2018 was a bag of mixed surprises. Where character actor Ayushmann Khurana continued to retain his position as the poster boy for offbeat cinema (courtesy Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho), Vicky Kaushal came out on top as the breakout star of 2018 with an interesting series of movies that deserve to be archived and watched over and over again. From playing an army officer in Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi to playing the loyal, sentimental sidekick in Raj Kumar Hirani’s Sanju and blowing everyone’s socks off, to starring in two more Netflix hits of the year – Love Per Square Foot and Lust Stories, Kaushal gave the stars a run for their money. Quite literally, considering the Khan trinity faced a dud year both in terms of critics’ appreciation as well as box office numbers, given the audience’s relentless demand for content-driven films.

This was also the year that saw star kids Jahnvi Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan make impressive debuts in Dhadak and Kedarnath respectively. And the industry tanking its money (yet again) in a bid to compete with Hollywood, by producing movies such as Thugs of Hindostan, Race 3 and Zero. Not to mention movies like Padmaavat, Stree, Gold and Parmaanu which struck gold at the box office. 2018 also saw movies like Manto, Padman and Soorma, which, although didn’t succeed in breaking records, moved hearts and were well-received by a considerable section of the junta.

Come 2019, Bollywood promises to treat us to bigger, better movies riding high on the wave of good content. Close to 35 Hindi movies are releasing this year, but I’ve got you covered here with a list of 14 most anticipated Bollywood releases of 2019:

  1. Gully Boy

Directed by Zoya Akhtar, Gully Boy is based on rapper Vivian Fernandez (better known by his stage name Divine) and Naved Sheikh aka Naezy. The movie will set out to explore the young Divine’s love for rap, his tryst with society’s notions and the struggles he has to go through to transcend the limitations put forth by his class. While Ranveer Singh rocked the big screen with his last blockbuster hits Padmaavat and Simmba, and Alia Bhatt made a mark with Raazi, they’re both set to make Gully Boy kick some ass.

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P.S. If for once, you don’t want to watch the film for Bhatt, but Ranveer Singh’s badass rapping, well, I don’t blame you!

Scheduled release: 14th February, 2019

2. Super 30
A Vikas Bahl directorial, Super 30 is based on Anand Kumar, hailing from Patna, and one of the most sought after mathematicians and educationalists of the country. Super 30 is his initiative that selects 30 IIT aspirants each year from economically backward sections and trains them to crack IIT-JEE exams, one of the toughest (after the UPSC, of course) to write. After a rather lukewarm Kaabil, people have been desperately waiting for Hrithik Roshan’s next blockbuster – and Super 30 seems like it.

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P.S. The film has in the past year itself got mired in two separate controversies –  sexual harassment claims against director Vikas Bahl and charges of deceit against Anand Kumar. While Bahl has resumed working on the post-production of Super 30, the charges against Kumar suggest the film might not be called a biopic anymore. Nevertheless, given its premise and the first look of the movie (read: a gritty, bearded Hrithik Roshan), I can’t wait to catch this on the big screen.


Scheduled release: 26th July, 2019

3. Brahmastra
Directed by Ayan Mukerji and produced by Karan Johar, Brahmastra is set to be a triology spread over the next 10 years. The premise is simple – ‘a romantic fairytale in supernatural format’ but a novel one to be attempted in Bolly land. Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt form the star cast of Brahmastra.

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While Thugs of Hindostan, despite all the hoopla, wasn’t one of Amitabh’s feel-good-about-later-performances, this Karan Johar production looks like it will help Sr. Bachchan get right back on track. Ranbir Kapoor whose career (literally) got revived with Sanju, seems to be yet again on a winning spree as Brahmastra seems all set to break records.


Scheduled release:  20th December, 2019

4. Kesari

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An Anurag Singh directorial, Kesari is set in the Battle of Saragarhi. While Akshay Kumar is playing Havildar Ishar Singh, the man who fought for his daughter’s respect, Parineeti Chopra will play the female lead. After Akshay’s Gold and the earnest Padman last year, it is needless to say how eager we are for Kesari. On the other hand, while Parineeti’s Namaste England didn’t get the box office collections soaring, Kesari seems like it could be her turning point.


Scheduled release: 21st March, 2019

5. Operation Khukri

Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, Operation Khukri looks like the kind of comeback a director as stellar as Gowariker would make. The story revolves around a UN peacekeeping mission involving soldiers in Sierra Leone. Based on real-life Operation Khukri that focused on rescuing people from the RUF (Revolutionary United Front), it is set during the 2000s. With Shah Rukh Khan, Rajkumar Rao, Jackie Shroffa and Ayushman Khurrana, Operation Khukri has a lot of star power AND a solid plot coming together to blow our minds!

P.S. If you’re thinking how it would feel watching SRK yet again in the army avtar (after the 90s ‘Fauji’ and the 2012 ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’, trust me, you’re not alone! *wink wink*

Scheduled release:  2019

6. Ek ladki ko Dekha to Aisa Laga

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A Shelly Chopra Dhar directorial, Ek Ladki ko Dekha to Aisa Laga is a beautiful romance story with a slight twist. Almost like a pun on the original song from the movie ‘1942 A Love Story’, it has been touted as the most unexpected love story of the year. Revolving around homosexuality and the life of a simple girl from a middle-class household, this movie is going to be both hilarious and life-changing at the same time. Neerja actress Sonam Kapoor is playing the protagonist, with Rajkummar Rao is playing her friend? Love? Admirer? All in one? We don’t know, we’ll have to catch it on the 70mm to find that out isn’t it?

P.S. The dashing, uber cool for his age Anil Kapoor will be paired with Juhi Chawla. How lovely is that!

Scheduled release: 1st February, 2019

7. Mental Hai Kya

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A Prakash Kovelamudi directorial, Mental Hai Kya is a dark humor film. The movie revolves around a girl who hallucinates (or maybe not) and a boy who supposedly tries to trap her (or maybe not), as per Kangana Ranaut. While Ranaut’s last film Simran did not create much of a buzz, Mental Hai Kya does sound attention-grabbing. After all, what’s the fun in always being sane? Stree starrer Rajkumar Rao will take the male protagonist’s role here.


Scheduled release: 29th March, 2019

8. Thackeray

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Directed by Abhjit Pansey, Thackeray is all about the life of Bal Keshav Thackeray and the birth of Shiv Sena, a right-wing Marathi party under his tutelage. The film chronicles the life of the firebrand journalist turned politician who remains a Marathi legacy to this date, and a role model for the youth of Maharashtra. While Manto didn’t do very well at the box office, Nawazuddin Siddiqui won enough hearts with his intense performance to make Thackeray his next big hit.

Scheduled release: 25th January, 2019M

9. Mission Mangal

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Helmed by Jagan Shakti, Mission Mangal is hyped as India’s first space film. It revolves around India’s Mars Mission, specifically focusing on the women engineers who helped make the mission a success. The star cast boasts of Akshay Kumar, Taapsee Pannu, Sonakshi Sinha, Vidya Balan, and Sharman Joshi (who will, hopefully, be able to erase people’s memories of his last tortured performance in Kaashi). While Tapsee’s Manmarziyaan wasn’t impressive, she’s all set for a massive comeback with Mission Mangal.

P.S. Even before hitting the screens, the movie has been sued by Radha Bharadwaj for copyright infringement of her 2016 script ‘Space MOMs’.

Scheduled release: 15th August, 2019

10. Luka Chuppi

Source: Google

Directed by Laxman Utekar, Luka Chuppi on the face of it seems like a generic romance story, and yet, the fresh pairing is what’s getting my attention. A television reporter in Mathura, played by Kartik Aryan, falls for a headstrong Ramona, played by Kriti Sanon. While Kartik Aryan won hearts with his cackling performance in Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety, Kriti Sanon charmed many a fan with the low-budget yet all-heart Bareilly Ki Barfi. If you’re a sweet rom-com fan, this could be your movie of the year.

Scheduled release: 1st March, 2019

11. Badla

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A Sujoy Ghosh directorial, Badla is a remake of the Spanish film Contratiempo, translating to ‘The Invisible Guest’. Falling in the crime-thriller genre, it explores the story of a businessman arrested for murdering his ex-wife. The star cast includes superstar Amitabh Bhachchan and Tapsee Pannu, reuniting after a brilliant act together in Ghosh’s Pink. Do we need any more reasons to cheer?

Scheduled release: 8th March, 2019

12. Manikarnika

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Helmed by Krish Jagarlamudi, the movie depicts the life of Rani Lakshmibai, the Queen of Jhansi who led the Indian Rebellion of 1857 after the death of her husband. Kangana Ranaut is the lead protagonist, as well as the director for patches of the movie. While her last movie Simran wasn’t what people had hoped for, Manikarnika already looks like it could cross the 100 crore-mark at the box office.

Scheduled release: 25th January, 2019

13. Chhichhore

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Directed by Nitesh Tiwari, the Dangal director is all set to entertain you with his latest comedy film Chhichhore. While the storyline of the movie isn’t revealed yet, rumors are that the shooting is happening in the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Sushant Singh Rajput, after a lukewarm performance in Kedarnath, is starring in Chhichhore along with Shraddha Kapoor. While Shraddha’s Batti Gul Meter Chalu was an abominable flop and Stree came to her rescue, Chhochhore might just be the push she needs right now to break even.

After Kartik-Kriti, this is a fresh pairing I am excited to watch! Not to mention, the rather amusing title of the movie 😀

Scheduled release: 30th August, 2019

14. The Zoya Factor

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An Abhishek Sharma directorial, The Zoya Factor is based on a novel of the same name by Anuja Chauhan. The plot of the film revolves around an advertising firm executive member who eventually becomes the lucky charm for the Indian Cricket Team. The protagonist, Zoya, will be essayed by Sonam Kapoor. Dulquer Salmaan, a South Indian actor will be portraying the male protagonist. 

Besides the fact that Anuja Chauhan happens to be one of my favorite chick-lit authors, I am doubly excited about Dulquer Salman being a part of this project. Dulquer gave an outstanding performance in his Bollywood debut Karwaan (2018) as the disgruntled and rather lost but an extreme Good Samaritan Avinas. I can only imagine the sass he’s going to bring to his character in The Zoya Factor.

Scheduled release: 5 April 2019

There are a number of other big-budget movies all set to entertain us this year. What’s on your watch list? Comment below!