Web series on OTT platforms have been exploring diverse genres in unusual ways. That’s good news, of course. Created by Ekta Kapoor and helmed by Pradeep Sarkar, Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala is a romantic drama streaming on ZEE5 and ALTBalaji that stars Rajeev Khandelwal and Divyanka Tripathi Dahiya.
Since the series explores the lives of two chefs, the camera focuses self-indulgently on all kinds of delicious dishes, which will charm the foodie in every viewer. Part of the story shares backstories that contribute to the viewer's understanding of the protagonists around whom the plot revolves.
Nitya (Divyanka), a single mother of a son, is a gifted chef working at Indie Spice, a restaurant owned by her friend (Maninee Mishra). The loss-making venture is taken over by a two Michelin star chef and entrepreneur Vikram (Rajeev).
Unease and discomfort for Nitya follow, the problem being that Vikram is her ex-husband. The couple has met after eight long years, and Nitya gets the feeling that Vikram has been stalking her all this while. The screenplay seesaws between past (Bhopal) and present (Mumbai), showing changes in their personal and professional lives. Wooing, romance, misunderstanding, heartbreak, separation, meeting again: Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala is about all that, and more.
Nitya is hot-headed, cynical and ambitious in the present, while Vikram is an internationally renowned chef who swears by professionalism. The viewer is repeatedly told that he has earned two Michelin stars, which gets irritating after a point. He receives female attention, but memories of lost love remain hidden deep within.
Khandelwal as the arrogant businessman with a soft side is good to watch when he plays the famous chef, who is older and wiser. The problem is, the actor looks too mature as a student of the culinary institute where Nitya and he had studied in the past.
His character of an easygoing brat in Bhopal, who has a talent for cooking, mutates into a sophisticated chef later. He comes across as a brand new man. The viewer would have wanted to see the process of transformation in substantial detail. Writers Doris Dey and Jaya Misra give inadequate emphasis on that phase of Vikram’s life, which is disappointing.
Divyanka is impressive as Nitya, who is variously shown as a loving girlfriend, protective mother, diehard professional and bitter lover. She plays the complex character remarkably, and her character is a major reason why Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala ends up being a fairly watchable series.
The series also stars Barkha Sengupta, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Mrinal Dutt and Navnit Nishan, the small screen veteran who gives an authoritative performance as Vikram’s mother.
Priyanshu Chatterjee, who many viewers would remember as the handsome hunk from Tum Bin, is good as Nitya’s unofficial shrink and close friend. He is a talented actor who has deserved a far better deal from Bollywood and the television industry all these years. Perhaps, he will get it someday.
Director Pradeep Sarkar could have delivered a more engaging series if the story had substantial subplots instead of weak ones such as those about marital problems between Vikram’s sister (Serene Walia) and her husband (Errol Marks) and a romance between a playboy (Mrinal Dutt) and sous chef (Madhu Sneha). These half-baked subplots fail to keep the viewer interested, which is disappointing since the main plot about Nitya and Vikram’s relationship has a well-conceptualised storyline.
Fans of Rajeev Khandelwal – and there are many of them – might watch Coldd Lassi Aur Chicken Masala because of the male lead anyway. Those who enjoy romantic dramas with a touch of sophistication may like it too if they don't have unrealistically high expectations from the series.