There is no dearth of gastronomic metaphors in the culinary-themed Coldd Lassi aur Chicken Masala. The 12-episode web series revolves around two chefs who happen to be former lovers. The title indicates the contrasting personalities of the protagonists – the hot-headed Nitya (Divyanka Tripathi) and the cool Vikram (Rajeev Khandelwal). Each episode name puns on a food combination (the examples include “Sharm Ka Saag and Makkari ki Roti” and “Mashed in Mohabbat, Baked in Love”). The recipe includes lashings of melodrama and a side serving of slapstick comedy.
The end result: an over-cooked romance with a confusing mix of ingredients.
Directed by Pradeep Sarkar and based on a story by Doris Dey and Jaya Misra, Coldd Lassi aur Chicken Masala is being streamed on the Alt Balaji and Zee5 platforms under their new content partnership. The series mainly revolves around Vikram and Nitya, whose romance ended on a bitter note. Eight years later, Vikram buys a restaurant whose head chef is Nitya.
Coldd Lassi flits between Bhopal and Mumbai as it follows Nitya and Vikram over two timelines. The flashback track traces their blossoming romance as they swap recipes and glances at a culinary school. In the present, Nitya is a single mother whose skills have been confined to a restaurant in Mumbai, while Vikram is an internationally celebrated chef with two Michelin stars (as we are repeatedly told).
The hostilities between the exes play out in the kitchen, through clashes over cooking styles and grudging appreciation of their respective talents. However, barring some on-the-nose metaphors and shots of well-plated dishes, the food turns out to be largely incidental to the series.
The story is padded by trite sub-plots, including a romance between sous chef Tanvi (Madhu Sneha) and self-proclaimed playboy Kaizad (Mrinal Dutt), the bond between Nitya and her friend and unofficial shrink Karan (Priyanshu Chatterjee), and marital problems between Vikram’s sister Gauri (Serene Walia) and her husband Shekhar (Errol Marks). The supporting cast includes Maninee Mishra, Barkha Sengupta and Navneet Nishan.
Nitya has become cynical after her heartbreak. Everyone is lonely and there’s no happily ever after, she tells her eight-year-old son. Vikram has a jet-setting career and unlimited female attention, but is still nursing old wounds. Other characters are similarly overdrawn. A particularly grating one is Vikram’s business partner Manira (Saloni Khanna), whose continued presence stops serving any purpose after the initial episodes.
Despite the focus on a female lead character, casual sexism lurks throughout the series. A supporting character passes moral judgment on his romantic interest for seeking casual sex on Tinder. Vikram woos Nitya in the “I’ll stalk you till you fall for me” style. In the present too, Vikram continues to violate Nitya’s personal space, routinely coming too close to her to make a snarky comment or two. A course correction is attempted by bumper sticker observations about chauvinism, but it’s clear that we are meant to root for Vikram, rather than question his approach and attitude.
In keeping with the antecedents of its lead actors, Coldd Lassi has a distinctly television soap-like set-up, with some profanity and sex thrown in to make the series digital-savvy. The events that bring Vikram and Nitya closer or push them apart are often clumsily staged, and include a Marvellous Mrs. Maisel‑inspired stand-up comedy routine and a terror attack on Mumbai.
The usually dependable Rajeev Khandelwal puts in an indifferent performance, while Divyanka Tripathi’s skills are stretched thin in the emotionally wrought moments. Occasionally and perhaps accidentally, Coldd Lassi does manage to stumble upon some meaty themes. The series could have been a meaningful exploration of the rocky road of romance, the pain of heartbreak, and the ways in which differing ambitions can test the greatest of loves. Instead, Coldd Lassi opts for oversimplifications and haphazard developments to tumble down a mostly predictable route.
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