Rajkumar Hirani’s world of cinema has created a space in the hearts of cinegoers purely based on the way his characters make you feel. He’s one of those rare directors who manages to pull you into the plot on the basis of just pure story telling. He doesn’t resort to loud dialogues or VFX-heavy scenes. Instead, he focuses more on the writing and what his characters are saying. After a gap of 5 years, Hirani is back to the cinema with his very first film with Shah Rukh Khan. These are different times. In a year where action packed dramas with top stars has found takers, will a story of illegal immigrants find its audience? Let’s find out.
The word Dunki applies to those who wish to enter a country on illegal grounds. Hirani’s story starts in Punjab and navigates the globe from London to the Middle East. Hardy Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) stumbles upon a bunch of misfits who dream of making it to London one day. Even though they are born in India and have a connect with the local flavours and colours, their heart flutters each time someone mentions Big Ben. But the road to London isn’t easy. It’s paved with treacherous tests and exams that require the team to learn English in order to get the required visa.
After failing in the language test, the group decides to take the road less travelled, but one which promises them their destination. A tragic incident strengthens their determination and grit to make it to London at any cost.
While SRK is the star attraction, Hirani makes sure he gives the supporting cast ample room to play. Writing and dialogues have always been the forte of Hirani. Dunki’s first half is layered and nuanced with the feel-good humour and simplistic approach that is signature Hirani.
Vicky Kaushal as Sukhi is terrific and thankfully, the writers (despite his short role) have fleshed his character out. He is restrained yet volatile and angry when required. Taapsee Pannu goes for the kill at every given chance. Her timing with SRK on the funny lines is impeccable.
Similarly, Anil Grover and Vikram Kochher, who play the other characters of team Dunki, are equally good in their respective roles. Shah Rukh gets to portray the young and old Hardy and he puts his charm to full use. The superstar closes out 2023 with a hattrick, proving his timeless appeal yet again.
On the flip side, Dunki’s second half is weak and lengthy. The plot meanders and the humour falls flat. Dunki’s climax is also Hirani’s least enjoyable writing. In an effort to go overboard with the emotional quotient, the filmmaker stretches scenes and adds unnecessary baggage to an already heavy entourage.
Dunki might not be Hirani’s best work in comparison to 3 Idiots or PK, but it still entertains and leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling as you leave the theatre. Also, what better way to end the year than to have SRK charm you on the silver screen once again?
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)