‘Dunki’ review: This Shah Rukh Khan-starrer fails to leave a lasting impression

This 161-minute film, helmed by Shah Rukh Khan, makes one laugh and cry, but fails to leave a lasting impression. After hardcore action masala films Pathaan and Jawan, there was this strong desire to see Khan in a softer role, where his lovey-dovey eyes and the dimpled smile transport the viewer to another universe and some witty and wacky one-liners leave you wanting for more. But unfortunately, none of this happens in Dunki. The film simply comes across as one that is trying too hard to please.

For a storyline as strong and interesting as the one Dunki presents, the delivery lacks the punch and fails to connect with the audience. Khan, in the role of a lover boy badly fails the litmus test—there is a severe lack of chemistry between him and his crush, Taapsee Pannu. It is nothing like the chocolate boy lover kind of characters Bollywood movie lovers have grown up seeing (recall Veer Zaara, DDLJ, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, and many more.) In the role of a soldier in Dunki, it is the same soft dialogues oozing out patriotism and nationalism, which we heard Khan parrot earlier in Pathaan and Jawan. And in the role of a good Samaritan, he is just about any average Joe. Dunki does not give us the Khan we want to see, or what the trailers promised. It only gives us a strong plotline that keeps us hooked throughout the film, but does not carry us along with the characters, who just seem as though they are all drifting irectionless and lacking any enthusiasm to give their best.

The story goes like this – Khan plays Hardyal Singh Dhillon, aka Hardy, a soldier who falls in love Manu (Pannu) who yearns to go to London to make enough money that can get her family’s mortgaged house back. So the solution that the soldier suggests is, ‘Dunki maarna’ which means illegal migration to England, because otherwise she and her friends Buggu (Vikram Kochhar) and Balli (Anil Grover), all of who are chasing a ‘better life,’ will never be given visas to enter the UK. And so begins their illegal journey over land and underwater via Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, onwards to their dream destination, London.

The film is set in Laltu, Punjab where everyone harbours the dream of earning in pounds. Those whose sons and daughters have made it, build a cement aeroplane on their rooftops to flaunt their UK connection. The story is fresh; it touches the crucial aspects of small-time agents exploiting vulnerable youth by fixing illegal applications for a few thousand rupees, the thriving business of Hinglish and Ingliss classes that sell the dream of a life abroad, the visa racket and more. But the execution is far from gripping. That one crucial aspect which differentiates Dunki from Raju Hirani’s past films (3 Idiots, Munnabhai…) is the lack of wit and humour. One can literally count the number of times the film makes one laugh on one’s fingertips.

Dunki does take us into a deep dive of emotions via scenes that pull our heartstrings, but it does little to do the same throughout. Except for Vicky Kaushal’s very strong special performance that lasts no more than a few minutes—he leaves a lasting impression on our minds of a man who is unable to get himself a visa to London and burns himself to death after his ladylove commits suicide there, after waiting in vain for him to bring her back to India. There are only a few such memorable scenes in the film that come straight for your heart.

Movie: Dunki

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, and Boman Irani

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Rating: 2/5