Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala review: Divyanka Tripathi, Rajeev Khandelwal ham through this romantic drama

Shreya Paul

Sep 05, 2019 13:29:16 IST

Language: Hindi

The web is an appropriate platform for quirky, out-of-the-box narratives. Despite the initial admiration for the choice of subject and the relatively free-flowing depiction of it, Alt Balaji and ZEE 5's Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala could not completely shrug off the Balaji hangover. Divyanka Tripathi and Rajeev Khandelwal appear in the series, which charts the lives of Chef Nitya and 'International' Chef Vikram.

At the outset, Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala has all the boxes ticked. A coming-of-age romantic drama, a bevy of notable television names as part of its cast, on-point production design, and a worthy director in Pradeep Sarkar — where it falters is research (but more on that later).

 Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala review: Divyanka Tripathi, Rajeev Khandelwal ham through this romantic drama

Still from Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala

The web show follows separated partners Nitya and Vikram as a chance meeting reunites them eight years later. Both culinary maestros in their own right, their inter-personal ego clashes lead to a fun-and-juicy tale of loves lost and regained. Ignoring Ekta's signature trope of using 'coincidence' as a narrative driver, the series attempts at building believable, and (more refreshingly) flawed characters. The narrative moves back-and-forth from present-day to 2010 Bhopal.

The best virtue in Nitya is her hunger to excel in life. She even confesses the first trait to attract her towards Vikram was his incomparable talent at whipping up delectable dishes from scratch. In the rampant flashbacks, audiences see that Nitya strives to get herself and Vikram admitted to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, considered one of the world's premium institutes in culinary sciences. She even pushes Vikram to explore and experiment more with his fusion cooking.

Vikram, on the other hand, is a wastrel of sorts, whiling away time in merriment and friends. He whines that he would have expected a 'simple' wife in Nitya. He is effortless in his cooking as well as in life. He is more than glad to just sit at his paternal restaurant, and gloat in its hefty monthly income along with his wife, but Nitya is (rightfully) critical of the fact.

The current sections of the narrative are less tolerable. Divyanka unleashes her OTT self at most junctures, giving audiences a generous amount of raised eyebrows, pursed lips, and sati-savitri renditions of the modern-day single parent. Meanwhile, Rajeev revels in unnecessary accented English because he is an 'international' chef. He ill-treats Nitya in order to hide his true feelings of love (because what has Bollywood taught us all these years, right?), and only talks about his 'international' standards of cooking and how the buy-out of Nitya's restaurant was a mere coincidence.

Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala

Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala

Execution aside, the character arcs in the romantic drama were probably written well. Doris Dey and Jaya Misra pen passionate characters who mature over the first seven episodes. Their differences are believable, and therefore the rift (the actual reason behind which is still retained as a cliffhanger), stands justified. But the Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala team lose its plot (literally) when they try taking it beyond the paper.

Khandelwal disappoints quite thoroughly. With a legacy that includes subjects like Left Right Left, Shaitan, Table No. 21, and Aamir, one would expect him to be more genuine with the camera. Though he tries to salvage the narrative at points, most of the scenes see him hamming it away to glory. With the space to oscillate between megalomania, humour and passionate love, Vikram could have been so much more than what Khandelwal attempts at.

Clearly drawing deep inspiration from 2014 American comedy drama Chef and R Balki's iconic Cheeni Kum, Divyanka's character ought to have been a bitter, irritable genius, trying to make her way through the madness of life. Nitya is even a logical mother who teaches her son Vivaan it is important to learn to live alone and be happy with the self. But Tripathi falls short by miles and chooses to opt for dramatic overdoing instead.

Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala

Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala

But what is most surprising, is the direction in Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala. An advertisement genius, Sarkar has had compelling stories to his credit. The same man who gave the world a sweet, nuanced love story between Shekhar and Lolita in Parineeta, seems like he built stick figures out of Nitya and Vikram. Hardly any screentime is devoted to the process of cooking or for that matter food, elements which were supposed to bind the web series together.

It seems as if Sarkar has tried his level best to hammer home the point that Vikram is, in fact, an 'international' chef. Which nation? Who cares? He is an 'international' chef with two Michelin stars under his belt. That should suffice, no? (Much like the Germany-returned musician extraordinaire Himesh Reshammiya in Aap Ka Suroor).

If anything, the web provides a platform for deeper critique. Thus, in such a scenario, it is best if the research teams chip in too. Exotic dish names and culinary jargon are thrown around in the script like candies, pulling down the credibility of a show which deserved better acting.

Production design and cinematography aside, none of the departments seem to have stepped up enough, leaving behind a workable script with huge flaws.

Rating: **1/2

All images from ZEE5.

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Updated Date: Sep 05, 2019 13:35:41 IST