Singular achievement of LUV SHUV TEY CHICKEN KHURANA has been that it has been successful to a large extent in dispelling the manner in which Punjab has so far been portrayed on the silver screen. Punjab has been portrayed hitherto more as a place where one would start dancing at the drop of a hat with a Dhol, Punjabis indeed do, but there is quite of other things that Punjab is famous for, it’s chicken for instance, locally called as Kukkad. In Punjab the famous saying is leg te peg, i.e. the leg piece of a chicken and a peg of whiskey, this is what in essence defines the spirit of joy de vivre for an average Punjabi and this is what LUV SHUV TEY CHICKEN KHURANA has brought out in a rather sensitive and tasteful manner with all the ingredients in the right place to make it a dish worth aspiring for.
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In Punjab there is a famous saying- khaya peeya apna and baaki nadur Shah Ka… i.e. whatever one is able to eat and drink is of that individual and rest all that is there would be captured by Nadir Shah. This is a saying which is popular about Punjab since middle-ages, and is a cultural nuance arising out of repeated plunder attacks of Nadir Shah on Punjab with such intensity that people stopped creating assets, and whatever they earned they splurged in food and drinks. This being the cultural nuance, no wonder Punjabiyat is ceremonially represented by a Tandoor and what is cooked inside the Tandoor, be it a chicken or a paneer, the manner in which a food is prepared in a Punjabi Dhaba is a feat difficult to match.
It is this nuance which director Sameer Sharma has tried to capture in LSTCK. Incidentally, Sameer Sharma has a pedigree associated with the film industry; his maternal grandfather was singer Mukesh, while his paternal grandfather was a film distributor B M Sharma.
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It is also worth pointing about the Sameer Sharma had planned LSTCK as a Punjabi film, but when Anurag Kashyap and UTV came on board the ambit of the film was expanded to make it a Hindi film, after all, a Punjabi Dhaba is an integral part of the landscape all over India.
What has also gone in favor of the film is that Punjabi actors have been selected to play the roles, but for Huma Qureshi, be it Kunal Kapoor, Vinod Nagpal, Rajesh Sharma or Rajesh Bagga, they all are Punjabi, but they have not indulged in boisterousness but underplayed the characters, and it is the underplay that has been catalyst in redefining the Punjabiyat on the screen. The humour in LSTCK is situational and not a gag, it has never gravitated to jarring travesty. LSTCK is another interpretation of finding love through food, as it has been the saying the way to a man’s heart for a woman is predominantly through his stomach, and LSTCK is self-discovery of a man and also a discovery about love. Huma Qureshi has underlined through her performance that she is a star to watch out for.
New breed of directors like Sameer Sharma need to be congratulated as they are trying to situate the cuisines and associated norms, which are a part of our cultural psyche within the cinematic framework to tell the world that indeed our culture and civilization is unique and we should try and preserve it. Similar attempt was made last year through the Marathi film AAMRAS and one only hopes that we would see 22 more such films defining cuisine and traditions of each of the states of the country, but not in a comical way as the Gujrati food was shown in few films.