Kunal Kapoor with co-star Huma Qureshi in Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana
How did Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana happen?
I have been involved in this film right from the beginning. I have played the part of a bouncing board. The director (Sameer Sharma) and I have been friends for a really long time. For a very long time, the two of us have been discussing that this is the sort of film that we would love to make and out of that emerged the germ of Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. Once we had a story, we took it to Anurag Kashyap and luckily for us, he thought it was fantastic and he was like: ‘I am on.’ So it was actually I who took the film to a producer rather than it being the other way round.
Why take a fun and boisterous premise to someone like Anurag Kashyap who is synonymous with dark, hard-hitting cinema?
Sameer and I have grown up on commercial cinema, the Manmohan Desai-Sooraj Barjatya-Yash Chopra kind of cinema and yet we also have the sensibility of independent cinema. For us, Luv Shuv treads the middle ground of commercial and independent cinema. It’s almost a car crash between a Sooraj Barjatya film and an Anurag Kashyap film because it’s a heart-warming family film on one hand, but it’s also got a certain madness and quirkiness that you get in Anurag’s characters. It was really interesting to get Anurag on board because, as you said, it’s not really expected of him to make a boisterous, fun film on Punjabis. Anurag keeps telling Sameer and me that after this film releases, he is going to get a bad name since there isn’t any blood or violence here!
From the promos, the premise seems to be of a family hellbent on preserving a secret recipe…
It’s also a coming-of-age story of this boy (played by Kunal) from Punjab who ran away to London at a young age and returns to rediscover his roots. We have the completely mad Khurana family at the centre of the film, with each member having a quirk that distinguishes them. Mine is the only restrained character. He comes back to his family home after 10 years and almost feels like an alien. He is back with a purpose and he wants to get it over and done with as soon as he can and go back. At the same time, the film is also about how food forms a metaphor for so many things in our lives. In this film, it’s a metaphor for love, for realisation and rediscovery and even for family. It could have been called ‘Luv Shuv Tey Paneer Khurana’ or ‘Alu Khurana’ and the meaning would have been the same.
What was it like shooting for it?
I had a total blast shooting this film! We shot completely in Punjab and it was one hell of a party. I have also shot for this number called Motorwala which is, perhaps, the first Punjabi blues song! The video for the song has been shot in a very James Bond-style, complete with cool guns, hot girls and tuxedos.
How are people reacting to your clean-shaven look?
It takes people a while to register it’s me. Some people have seen the promo and the poster and they are like: ‘Looks like an interesting film, but who’s the guy?’ (Laughs) I got that a lot when we were shooting in Punjab also because people would come up to me and ask: ‘Yeh Kunal Kapoor kahaan milenge?’ (Laughs) It’s a bit strange to have people not know who you are.
Was the new look specifically for this film?
The guy I play may be from Punjab but he’s lived in London all his life and a clean-shaven look suited him. I was quite happy with the change because each time I do a film, I tell the directors that I want to change my look and they are always like: ‘No, no please keep your beard and long hair’. I was more than happy when Sameer asked me to shave it all off.
Are you a foodie?
Well, if you are a Punjabi that pretty much comes encoded in your DNA. On sets, we would have a lot of food going around because, after all, this is a food film. Even in general, we are a country of foodies and I find it really surprising that we never really made a food film before this. We are a nation that’s obsessed with food… we finish breakfast and talk about lunch… we finish lunch and start planning dinner….
So if we ask you to name five chicken dishes off the top of your head…
Butter chicken, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, grilled chicken and tikka masala. Now, you’ve made me hungry! (Laughs)
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