Cinematically speaking, there’s only so much you can do with love stories.
Boy meets girl, they fall in love, differences/misunderstandings/tragedies crop up, they separate; they meet again, differences/misunderstandings/tragedies get resolved, and the pair waltzes into the sunset to live happily ever after in La La Land.
This, my friend, is called ‘the template of love’, and all love stories you will ever watch or read will follow this time-tested template, give or take a few plotlines here and there. It’s as old as time itself. Heck, even Adam and Eve went through the rigours of this age-old template.
What’s there, then, to distinguish one love story from the other? Elementary, dear Watson! It’s ‘treatment’. In a tale of love, it’s not the story one can play with much, it’s the treatment.
And Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala, the newest web series to hit the digital arena, has got the treatment formula down to a fine art.
Nitya and Vikram (played by Divyanka Tripathi and Rajeev Khandelwal respectively), the protagonists of the series, are gifted and accomplished chefs, with epicurean magic in their hands.
At the centre of this delightful romantic comedy is a fine dine restaurant. Interspersed with the narrative are heavenly visuals of lip-smacking gourmet fare and decadent food, making the series a visual delight that is high on hedonistic pleasures, albeit of the gastronomic kind.
Apart from the treatment, Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala has another element that makes it starkly different from other web series. It is the first prominent web series that has been jointly created by two major OTT platforms. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the series is a production from the combined stables of ALTBalaji and ZEE5, which, in our opinion, is quite an exciting development for the future of the digital industry.
The series has been conceived by Ekta Kapoor, while ALTBalaji regular Jaya Misra has written the screenplay, along with Doris Dey. National Award winning director Pradeep Sarkar has directed the series, which is telling. His consummate flair for storytelling can be seen in several brilliant scenes that dot the narrative.
To return to the story, Nitya is a skilled chef with an exceptional talent for the art of gastronomy. She is also single mother to a cherubic eight-year-old called Vivaan (Vidhaan Sharma). Nitya, along with friend and business partner, Revti (Maninee Mishra), runs Indie Spice, a fine dine restaurant she’s built from scratch.
Her cosy world is turned upside down when the financially-unviable restaurant is taken over by Vikram, a celebrated, world-renowned chef with two Michelin Stars under his belt. The reason for her consternation is the fact that Vikram is her ex-husband, father of her son, a man she hates with all her heart, but secretly, still holds a torch for. Yet, the very sight of him puts her into a state of apoplexy.
Vikram is not too pleased with the situation either, putting Nitya down every chance he gets, or so she feels.
And so the kitchen of the poor fine dine restaurant turns into a battlefield of sorts. The once-upon-a-time lovers often wallow in orgasmic ecstasy – not in the throes of passion for each other, but in the sensual pleasure of the gastronomic delights that they cook up. The kitchen abounds with sensory bliss drenched in lascivious pleasure – not of the bodily kind, but of the culinary.
Salvos and volleys are fired with passionate gusto between our dear protagonists. The antagonism between the two hangs in the air, thick enough to cut with a knife. And just as it was food that had once brought them together, it is food that now ties them in a tensely stretched bind.
The narrative oscillates between present-time Mumbai and Bhopal of 2010, as their story of love and longing unfolds over the seven 28-30-minute episodes dished up until now. A lot of things become clear.
She is ambitious, willing to push herself to the limits to scale the heights of culinary success.
He is happy-go-lucky, lives in the moment, and is content living off his father’s income.
She is driven, and dreams of Le Cordon Bleu certifications and Michelin Stars. The only thing that drives him is the thought of a kiss from his lady love.
She is hot-headed. He is cool as a cucumber.
She is east, he is west. But in Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala, the twain does meet (apologies, Mr Twain, for twisting thy quote to suit our pleasure).
What brings them together is the extraordinary innate talent that both have for the culinary arts. Soon, however, their dissimilar sensibilities become more than apparent, and differences rear their ugly head. The narrative also hints at infidelity on Vikram’s part, something that drives the final nail in the coffin of their marriage, leaving Nitya pregnant, alone and intensely bitter.
While the story is as old as the first love stories that were ever chronicled, in Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala, it brims with charm and chutzpah. Especially eye-catching are the dripping-with-sensory-delight visuals of food – oh, luscious food – being cooked. Glistening white onion roundels dance an enchanting tango in the midst of bright green pearls of peas, as they sizzle and splutter in a pan of decadence. Slivers of melt-in-the-mouth meat lie enticingly on a bed of striking greens, beckoning gastronomes with a demure, come-hither look. An exotic sauce bubbles tantalizingly; a sinfully decadent dessert swirls alluringly.
But despite these scrumptious images, the ambrosia viewers seek is elsewhere – it’s in the crackling chemistry of the lead pair; it’s in the flavourful fun of the writing; it’s in the luscious love in the air. The writing, specifically, is the star of the show. The dialogues are sharp and witty; the humour, brilliant.
One particular scene is the laugh highlight of the series – the scene at the bar when Nitya does an open mic and roasts Vikram like nobody’s business. Believe us ye, the scene had us laughing like hyenas in heat. And that’s not the only one. The series is peppered with numerous laugh-out-loud moments, amping up its engaging quotient tremendously. The comedy in the series is as alluring, if not more, as the romance.
Rajeev Khandelwal packs in quite a powerful punch of acting chops here, especially his silent, brooding turn. Divyanka Tripathi is a wee bit over-the-top, and needs to add more subtlety and refinement to her acting.
The series boasts an ensemble cast that lends heft to the proceedings. The chemistry between Vikram’s friend, Kayzad (Mrinal Dutt) and Nitya’sbestie, Tanvi (Madhussneha Upadhyay)is fun and serves to lighten up the atmosphere considerably.
There’s also Priyanshu Chatterjee, playing shrink Dr Karan; he’s Nitya’s friend and neighbour, but aspires to be more, if only Nitya would give him the green signal. He’s cool, calm and the perfect foil to Nitya’s tempestuous personality. Navniit Nisshan makes an appearance on our screens after a long time. She plays the proverbial monster-in-law; err, we mean, mother-in-law.
Saloni Khanna as Vikram’s business partner, Munira, and Barkha Sengupta as Vikram’s purported lover, Seema, completes the substantial cast.
All said and done, Pradeep Da has whipped up a delicious dollop of cinematic comfort food, sweet as ‘roshogulla’ and spicy enough to whet our appetite for more. All we can say is,bon appétit!
Doris Dey as a setup Creative has cast her magical spell on many popular yester year Balaji Telefilms shows on TV. Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala is the first series as Producer for her under her banner LingaBhairavi Films. And must say, she’s put in and made use of all of her creative acumen and experience over the years to give this cherishable final product.
In the meanwhile, 3/5 is our rating for Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala.