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Luka Chuppi

Rating: 1.5

March 01, 2019

Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi, Vinay Pathak, Aparshakti Khurrana

Director: Laxman Utekar

Luka Chuppi starring Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon is a 2 hour 6 minute film that is 2 hours too long. I’m not joking. It’s a movie that starts off making no sense, and continues in the same vein for the bulk of its running time.

Guddu (Kartik) and Rashmi (Kriti) meet and fall in love when she’s interning at the cable news channel in Mathura where he is the star reporter. He proposes marriage, but she thinks they should live together to gauge their compatibility before taking the plunge. Seems about fair, except that her dad is a right-wing politician committed to ‘protecting Indian culture’. Which means he’s the sort of neta whose party workers routinely harass unmarried romancing couples.

It’s a good thing then that Guddu and Rashmi are dispatched to Gwalior for a work assignment, where they rent a flat in order to get a taste of what spending their lives together might feel like. Much of the film’s so-called humour hinges on the misunderstanding that the pair is married when they’re actually not. For reasons that never feel convincing or entirely plausible they make repeated attempts to sneak off and really get married.

It’s a slim premise; the script by Rohan Shankar feels stretched and many of the jokes are forced. Even the usually dependable Pankaj Tripathi strains for laughs as a ridiculously attired fellow with gold highlights in his sidelocks and handlebar moustache. There’s also a clutch of stereotypes including a midget sidekick, a precocious, blackmailing child, a token Muslim best friend, and a nosy neighbour determined to expose the couple’s secret. A running joke about Guddu’s elder brother who is frustrated about being left behind in the marriage rat race is the only genuinely inspired idea.

Through the character of Rashmi’s father Vishnu Trivedi (Vinay Pathak), who has fashioned himself as a guardian of Mathura’s morality, the film goes on and on about live-in relationships and how they’re against our culture. But frankly both his outrage and the eventually ‘progressive’ resolution feels outdated and misguided. It’s 2019, come on, wake up and look around! Luka Chuppi, which is directed by Laxman Utekar, is clearly positioned as one of those ‘small-town comedies’ that are all the rage currently. But there is very little of the flavour, texture, or authenticity that powered better films in the genre like Bareilly Ki Barfi or Stree.

The acting is serviceable. Kriti Sanon is expected to look pretty while looking exasperated and she achieves that. Kartik Aaryan delivers an assortment of facial gymnastics while his hair – that hair! – continues to be mildly distracting. A bigger letdown is watching talented actors like Vinay Pathak, Aparshakti Khurrana, and especially Pankaj Tripathi wasted in thankless, underwritten roles. One only hopes Tripathi was paid a huge fee in exchange for starring in this drivel, and for embarrassing himself in the role of Guddu’s buffoonish, troublemaking relative.

But all of these problems are second to the fact that the film is simply not funny for the most part. It’s allegedly a comedy but it delivers at best a handful of decent laughs, all in the second half. I was bored, often confused, and genuinely missing the low-IQ, puerile humour of last week’s Total Dhamaal.

Yes, Luka Chuppi is that lousy. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN News18)

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