Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon Image Credit: Supplied

Bollywood rom-com ‘Luka Chuppi’ kicks off with a fetching, lovable couple tenuously exploring a swift live-in relationship, snubbing the moral policing in their small-town.

It’s about love in the times of strict morality by self-titled cultural protectors.

It’s an interesting premise, but as you delve deeper into Rashmi (Sanon) and Guddu’s (Aaryan) lives, you realise that it’s the film that is averse to commitment and is the creative equivalent of a runaway bride.

‘Luka Chuppi’ — a comedy about the complexities in a modern day relationships — shies away from fully putting itself out there. The result? A chaotic comedy that doesn’t come together as a whole in soulful harmony. There seems to be a mismatch between the performances of a talented spectrum of actors and the way their characters develop.

For instance, Sanon — who plays an intern at a local TV channel station in Mathura — is introduced as a spunky young woman who insists that she wants to know her boyfriend well before even considering marriage.

In a clinical manner, she convinces her relatively conservative partner — a spot on Aaryan — about the joys of a live-in arrangement.

She has no qualms about doing it on the sly, minus her parent’s approval.

But by the end of the movie, the same woman is reduced to an emotional, teary wreck who develops a strong moral code and who just can’t tolerate the idea of deceiving her elders. Suddenly, being married becomes her top priority, making her earlier speech about having a solid career, irrelevant. It just doesn’t add up.

If you are willing to let go off that grouse, then there’s a lot to enjoy in terms of performances and wry humour in ‘Luka Chuppi’ — a film that also tackles the issue of boundaries or lack thereof among couples in India where your family is a silent stakeholder in your relationships.

Aaryan and Sanon are cute together and are endearingly earnest. Their chemistry shines in the first half.

Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon in ‘Luka Chuppi’. Image Credit: Supplied

But the one who won my heart is their Man Friday friend Aparshakti Khurana, who plays a Muslim in the Hindu-dominated Mathura. His satirical swipe on the existing religious divide makes you laugh and hits the right spots. As always, Pankaj Tripati delivers the comic goods. He plays that token slimy relative who’s snarky and conniving. Actor Vinay Pathak, as this hard-core right-wing politician and the doting dad of Rashmi, does a fine balancing act of being comically manipulative.

Stories set in the small towns of India are gaining momentum in Bollywood and ‘Luka Chuppi’ intends to milk its popularity. While the first half chugs along without skipping a beat, the second half meanders before it tediously reaches a conclusion.

Be warned, ‘Luka Chuppi’ isn’t a life-altering romantic comedy which sets out to make some grave social comment. It’s a light-hearted film — with a scattered, almost fickle, storyline — bolstered by good performances from a sturdy cast. While you may not put a ring on this one, you can definitely live with it for a couple of hours of your life.

Luka Chuppi

Director: Laxman Utekar

Cast: Kriti Sanon, Kartik Aaryan, Pankaj Tripati, Aparshakti Khurana and Vinay Pathak

Stars: 2.5 out of 5