I began watching ‘Luka Chhupi’ with many reservations. Its scenes seem dull and informative, the comedy seems forced by music in scenes of exaggerated acting and over-dramatic family debate. Moreover, the chemistry between the actors is hardly carved out of moments they spend together, but by merely necessary plot moves and a couple of music videos. Halfway into the film though, when its central hullabaloo sets in as a family find their son secretly living a married life in another city, all the reservations with the film begin to temper gradually.
Luka Chuppi is just that after all- an exaggerated comedy that identifies its characters as not individual beings with personal motivations, but archetypal social beings coping with contrary belief systems. The film begins and ends on social chaos triggered by an actor’s remarks on live-in relationships. It does well to characterize its protagonists in the first act as individuals who are caught between two belief systems within themselves and not just in the society around them. When Rashmi (Kriti Sanon) casually asks Guddu (Karthik Aryan) about his views on the whole conflict of live-in versus marriage, the modern versus the traditional, Guddu is in the intermediary- he champions the cause of love but sees no wrong in stamping a social license on a relationship. This film is not Rishi Kapoor’s Prem Rog, where lovers deal with the limitations of their society, but a modern Hindi film that has its characters trying to understand where do they stand themselves.
Because of its nature as a social comedy of errors, the initial blandness of the film is compromised when the interminable hullabaloo sets in- their parents find them living together, but they believe their garb of marriage to be true, so simply take them back in the household happily; only…they are not married, and that begins to eat them up inside. Initially trying to hide in a live-in relationship from their parents, now they move on to trying to get married hiding from their parents. The mad ride begins in the second half, which makes ‘Luka Chuppi’ a rare Hindi film where the second half is a triumph.
I don’t think this film could have done without the exaggerated comedy that it deals conflict with. The laughs are plenty, and at the center of it is the question regarding marriage- is it only the society that wanted us to be licensed as married, or is it is too?
The household is composed of some lovely characters. There’s Guddu’s elder brother, who is the less charming brother, constantly enraged at his younger brother’s nuptial eagerness- he has a hilarious denouement to his own story in the climax of the film.
There’s Pankaj Tripathi as Baabulaal, an elder brother’s brother-in-law, who himself leads his life without any moral boundaries, but is eager to constantly supplement the fire in the household- Pankaj is excellent, his comedy, along with Ajeet Singh as Rashmi’s uncle, makes them exist as lovely 90s comedians in the film like Johnny Lever- exaggerated and quirky in action but rooted in everyday life characters. The film’s most hilarious event involves Pankaj- Guddu and Rashmi are running from their home to get married, and upon seeing Baabulaal follow them secretly, they begin to run from him, before they realize they are married in his eyes and turn on running behind him.
Then there’s Vinay Pathak as Rashmi’s father, who is wonderfully cast as a politician whose campaign includes protesting against the modern live-in culture. Vinay puts up a tough act as the politician, but we know him from his films to be a sweet person, you know he’s going to melt eventually but his presence as the politician makes that transformation interesting.
Because the film is so weighed on the social equations and the comedy that comes out of it, its private moments are bland, if there are any; and the eventual catharsis, as in so many films these days, occurs through an inspired speech about what the “youth of today” wants. But the spiced up premise and performances more than compensate for it. At one point, a scene is spiced up by Manna Dey’s alaap in the song “Ek chatur naar” in Padosan(1968), which looked like a very suitable echo to me. Just like Padosan, even Lukka Chuppi works as an exaggerated comedy around that milks the idea of marriage quite well.