<Review by: Juthika Nagpal>
Produced by Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Anurag Kashyap
Directed by Sameer Sharma. Starring Kunal Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Rajesh Sharma, Rahul Bagga, Vinod Nagpal, Vipin Sharma
On the surface, the film is a comic, light hearted, Punjabi family drama. Fun, frolic, love triangle, crazy uncle, threatening goons, and the hero who manages to stay unharmed through it all. But look a little deeper and there’s an important life lesson for us all.
I hadn’t heard about this movie until just a couple of hours before I watched it. My first reaction when booking the tickets was “What the hell kind of name is this?”, so I went in expecting the cliché Punjabi slapstick rhetoric, bracing myself for 3 hours of mindlessness and a couple of hearty laughs.
Well surprise, surprise! The movie was all that and more.
Omi Khurana (Kunal Kapoor), an orphaned teen raised by his extended family in rural Punjab, has dreams of migrating to “Ju-kay” (U.K.), and goes to extreme lengths to cut off all ties with his old village life. He doesn’t belong here, wasting his life away in small town goals and small town dreams. He wants to travel the world, make a zillion bucks, and drive a red Ferrari. Betraying his grandfather (Vinod Nagpal) Daarji’s trust and shattering his girlfriend (Huma Qureshi) Harman’s dreams, he runs away from home and disappears. Thankfully the film does not take us through the 10 years he spends in Ju-kay and the rut of his life there.
In fact, the movie opens with Omi being forced to come back to India. In danger from small time loan sharks in England, he is given a last chance to return to India for a limited time, to arrange for funds and pay off his debt. While we laugh our way through the rest of the story, (and tap our feet to the fantastic Punjabi folk fusion soundtrack), we watch Omi struggle with his guilt as he realises the value of his family’s unconditional acceptance and love. As chance has it, the time comes for him to collect his inheritance and repay his loan so he can return to his dreamland, but it’s too late. Omi has fallen in love – with his family, his girl, his home and the legacy of his late Daarji’s beloved dhaba – Chicken Khurana.
The movie tells the tale of the youth of rural Punjab, for whom the key to success is often mistaken for a life overseas in Ju-kay or Canaydda. While most films based on this theme try and emphasise how harsh and unforgiving life in the west can be, this one focuses, instead, on finally realising that everything you yearned for was right at your doorstep. It’s a movie about coming home, about finding that missing something that brings happiness to your heart, discovering the secret ingredient in the ‘Chicken Khurana’ recipe and satiating one’s hunger for larger than life fantasies.
A lesson for us all, as we pave ways to roam the world and live out all our dreams, to remember that the love we leave behind will be, in the end, the secret ingredient we were looking for all along.