Dunki Movie Review: DUNKI bears the Rajkumar Hirani stamp of filmmaking with the right message and emotions.

DUNKI is the story of four youths trying to fly abroad for a better life. The year is 1995. Army officer Hardayal Singh Dhillon aka Hardy (Shah Rukh Khan) arrives in Laltu, Punjab to meet Mahendar, who saved his life. He reaches his house and finds out that Mahendar is no more.  Mahendar lost a golden opportunity in sports while trying to save Hardy and then passed away in an accident. Hardy takes it upon himself to help Mahendar’s family. Mahendar’s sister Manu (Taapsee Pannu) asks Hardy to help her with wrestling. This is because she wants to go to the UK to earn and win back her house that her father had lost due to non-payment of a loan. An agent has assured her that she can be sent on a sports visa and hence, she wants to learn the basic techniques of a sport. Hardy teaches her wrestling. However, the agent usurps money from Manu, Balli Kakkad (Anil Grover), Buggu Lakhanpal (Vikram Kochhar), and others and runs away. With no other option, Manu, Balli, and Buggu approach Geetu Gulati (Boman Irani) for help. He runs an English-speaking institute and promises to help those trying to clear their IELTS exam. The trio along with Hardy enroll in his classes. Here, they meet Sukhi (Vicky Kaushal), and all five become close friends. They aim to reach the UK by hook or by crook. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Abhijat Joshi, Rajkumar Hirani and Kanika Dhilon’s story is superb and very relatable, especially for those from the South Asian diaspora. Many people from this belt have faced issues with immigration and hence, they’ll connect with the plot. Abhijat Joshi, Rajkumar Hirani, and Kanika Dhilon’s screenplay is a mixed bag. While some moments are emotional and hilarious, the script overall could have been much better, especially when it’s penned by Abhijat and Rajkumar. Abhijat Joshi, Rajkumar Hirani and Kanika Dhilon’s dialogues are witty at places but again, going by their previous work, the one-liners should have had far more punch.

Rajkumar Hirani’s direction is simplistic. As always, he uses his laugh-cry-drama formula successfully. Hence, the film doesn’t ever get slow or boring. There’s no dull moment. The film starts in the present day and the way the dynamics are shown, one gets curious to know what must have happened with the characters. It also gives a déjà vu of the beginning of 3 IDIOTS [2009]. The scenes where Hardy and his team try to learn English and their visa interviews are worth watching. The intermission point is quite strong. In the second half, the scenes of Hardy in the UK court and the whole Saudi Arabia sequence turn out to be the best parts of the film. The ending is moving, and the stats mentioned are quite hard-hitting and depressing. Thankfully, the final scene is funny, and the film ends on a lighter note.

On the flipside, the writing is not up to the mark. The makers haven’t focused on the families and their sufferings. Viewers should feel that the characters had a strong reason to move to the UK. But this aspect was not properly touched upon. Secondly, the humorous scenes in the first half don’t bring the house down. The same applies to Manu’s fake marriage episode. And this was necessary as all previous works of Rajkumar Hirani wowed the audience. As a result, one can’t help but expect tremendously from his films. DUNKI is nowhere close to MUNNA BHAI, 3 IDIOTS, PK, etc, and hence, audiences will feel a bit dejected, despite the film’s strong points.

Dunki Drop 6: Banda | Shah Rukh Khan | Rajkumar Hirani | Taapsee Pannu

Speaking of performances, Shah Rukh Khan does well and brings alive the humour and emotions effectively. However, as an old man, he’s not quite convincing. Nevertheless, it’s heartening to see him shed his superstar aura and play a character role after witnessing him in massier avatars in PATHAAN and DUNKI. Taapsee Pannu is a revelation and delivers a smashing performance. She gets the nuances in the old-age scenes quite right. Vicky Kaushal rocks the show in a cameo. Anil Grover and Vikram Kochhar are lovely and lend able support. Boman Irani and Deven Bhojani (Puru Patel) are lovely. Others do well.

Pritam’s music is not of chartbuster variety, but the songs are well-woven into the narrative. ‘Lutt Putt Gaya’ comes at a fine juncture and is pleasant. ‘Main Tera Rasta Dekhunga’ stands out. ‘Nikle The Kabhi Hum Ghar Se’, ‘O Maahi’ and ‘Banda’ are in sync with the film’s theme. Aman Pant’s background score is appropriate.

Muraleedharan C K, Manush Nandan and Amit Roy’s cinematography is breathtaking and gives the film a big-screen appeal. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production design is authentic. Sham Kaushal’s action is limited. Eka Lakhani’s costumes are realistic and non-glamorous. Rajkumar Hirani’s editing is slick.

On the whole, DUNKI bears the Rajkumar Hirani stamp of filmmaking with the right message and emotions as a backdrop. However, it is not as outstanding as his previous films as the writing plays spoilsport to a great extent. At the box office, it will turn out to be a mix bag.

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