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A recipe is more than just a set of suggestions on how to cook a dish. It’s a series of rules that establish the very nature of the dish itself. Put your eggs on the griddle before you stir in the milk and flour, and you wind up with scrambled eggs, not pancakes.
Like a recipe, a movie has certain rules that need to be followed in a specific order. Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (LSTCK, henceforth) doesn’t follow the rules, and, as a consequence, fails to create a satisfying end product.
Kunal Kapoor stars as Omi Khurana, a young man who fled his hometown in Punjab to make it big in London. After ten fruitless years, Omi owes a lot of money to a loan shark. Omi promises to get the loan shark’s money from his grandfather, the owner a popular restaurant in his hometown. Omi vows to return to London with the money and fulfill his dream, though the film doesn’t specify what that dream is.
Omi returns to find that much has changed in the decade since he left. His grandfather — creator of the restaurant’s namesake dish, Chicken Khurana, and the only one who knows the dish’s secret ingredient — has dementia. Without Grandpa in the kitchen, the restaurant failed. Omi’s only hope of getting the money to pay his debt is if he can recreate his grandfather’s famous dish and sell the recipe to the owner of a rival restaurant.
Further complicating Omi’s life is that the childhood sweetheart he left behind, Harman (Huma Qureshi), is now engaged to Omi’s cousin, Jeet (Rahul Bagga), though neither seems happy about it.
The performances in LSTCK are strong overall. The characters are portrayed realistically and not as outrageous caricatures, even when they are supposed to be sort of goofy, like Omi’s crazy Uncle Titu (Rajesh Sharma). The Khurana family is a sympathetic bunch, particularly Jeet, who’s clearly troubled by something.
LSTCK also has great music that’s used expertly. It enhances the experience, augmenting the emotions on display. I wish the lyrics were subtitled, but I understood the songs’ messages even without knowing the words.
A failure to place plot points in proper narrative order undercuts the good aspects of LSTCK. For example, before the halfway point in the movie, the secret ingredient to Chicken Khurana is revealed to the audience in flashback. Omi, who isn’t privy to the information, spends most of the second half of the film failing in his attempts to recreate the dish. It’s frustrating and tedious to watch, since it’s no longer a mystery to the audience.
The other big narrative problem is that the inevitable happy ending actually precedes the climactic showdown with the villain. And when the loan shark finally does show up, Omi doesn’t even resolve the problem himself. It’s not enough that Omi gets his happy ending. He should have to earn it.