One always imagines live-in relationships to be an urban phenomenon. However, if you visit some of the smaller towns and cities in India, you will find young, unmarried couples living under the same roof, though slyly. ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ (2013) did explore the concept of live-in relationships in a tier-2 city but there was no family involved there. That is what ‘Luka Chuppi’, produced by Dinesh Vijan and helmed by seasoned DOP and first-time director Laxman Utekar, seeks to explore. What happens when you live-in with your family?
Guddu (Kartik Aaryan) is a young news reporter based in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Rashmi (Kriti Sanon), the daughter of local politician Vishnu Trivedi (Vinay Pathak), joins the local channel he works for as an intern and soon, sparks fly between the two. When Guddu proposes marriage to Rashmi, she is taken aback and tells him firmly that even though she loves him, she is not ready for marriage yet. Rashmi suggests they should live-in together for some time and see how it works out. Guddu is aghast at the idea as they live in a conservative, small city and furthermore, Rashmi’s father runs a political organisation that has been running a campaign against live-in relationships in Uttar Pradesh. Their friend Abbas (Aparshakti Khurana) suggests as they are going to cover a political campaign in Gwalior for twenty days, Rashmi and Guddu can live together for that many days in the city where nobody knows them. The two of them like the idea and head to Gwalior to live-in together for twenty days.
Writer Rohan Shankar got the idea for the film from an incident which had happened with his friend in Maharashtra. They decided to relocate the story to Uttar Pradesh and he, along with director Laxman Utekar, spent a considerable amount of time in the state during the sixteen months he spent writing the script. The effort has borne fruit as the dialect, milieu and other cultural nuances are spot-on. As far as the screenplay is concerned, it follows a predictable route. There is hardly anything that catches you unaware as a viewer. Also, there are a few tracks which the writer seems to have rushed into without developing them properly – Rashmi and Guddu falling in love and Guddu’s family warming up to Rashmi. In the second half, the multiple attempts the couple makes at getting married could have been more interesting. The lack of novelty factor, despite a fairly interesting subject, is one of the shortcomings in the script. The film was projected as one, that would bring to the fore the concept of live-in relationships in small towns but that element does not come to the fore prominently. Guddu and Rashmi decide to get married a few days after they start living-in.
But, the script has its strengths too. As stated earlier, the milieu seems very real and authentic. The dialogues are terrific; the film has some of the best-written lines in recent times. All the characters, right from the main protagonists to the little kid who plays Guddu’s nephew or the nosy neighbour in Gwalior, have been fleshed out very well and get ample scope to shine. Despite the predictability, the narrative has a very smooth flow and there are hardly any dull moments.
A film of this nature needed a good soundtrack. Unfortunately, what one gets to hear are reprised, generic tracks; songs replete with Punjabi lyrics in a film that is set in Uttar Pradesh do seem odd. The film is just two hours long, so adding a few scenes to build up the drama at certain portions would not have been a bad idea. Though this is Laxman Utekar’s first Hindi film as a director, he has shot several biggies as a DOP and has a few Marathi films to his credit as a director as well. He makes a confident debut as a director in Hindi films and one definitely looks forward to what he does next.
Kartik Aaryan, who started out with a lot of promise in ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’ (2011), is finally getting his due as an actor. The actor looks handsome, acts very well and brings Guddu alive on screen effectively. Kriti Sanon proves, yet again, that she has the trappings of becoming of a huge movie star. She looks stunning and delivers an extremely confident performance. She has been doing very well as a performer since her first film (‘Nenokkadine’ (2014)- Telugu) and it is good to see her getting well-written parts that she, so truly, deserves. The film has a bunch of great actors in the supporting cast. Even the ones who have just 4-5 scenes, like the lady who plays the nosy neighbouring aunty in Gwalior, register an impact.
There is so much that one could have said in a film which deals with the seemingly urban concept of live-in relationships in small town India. ‘Luka Chuppi’ falls short of making many such statements but the fact that the film makes for a fun watch cannot be denied. The two hours pass away breezily without offering any dull moment and one gets to witness the striking screen presence and great acting prowess of its two leads, along with the rest of the cast, which is in great form as well.