Movie review | Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Dunki’ might make you doze off

New Delhi | Updated: 25 December, 2023 12:20 pm IST
Dunki movie review: Shah Rukh Khan’s movie is a ticket to dullsville. (Image credit: iamsrk/Instagram)

Dunki Movie Review: In the movie ‘Dunki,’ Shah Rukh Khan takes on the role of a soldier for the third time this year, following ‘Pathaan’ and ‘Jawaan.’ However, this time proves to be unfortunate as his highly anticipated first project with Rajkumar Hirani is extremely boring!

Plot:

Manu Randhawa, in her fifties (played by Taapsee Pannu), is longing for her home and is eager to return to India with her friends Buggu Lakhanpal (Vikram Kochhar) and Balli (Anil Grover). Unfortunately, they are unable to obtain a visa from the British embassy. Left with no alternatives, she contacts Hardy, also known as Hardayal Singh Dhillon (Shah Rukh Khan), in Punjab, confident that he can assist her in finding a solution.

As they commence their journey homeward, the narrative unfolds about the origins of their aspirations in 1995 in Laltu, Punjab. During that time, the trio, along with Sukhi (Vicky Kaushal in a cameo), envisioned settling in London for a brighter future. A soldier named Hardy became a part of their lives and assisted them in achieving their dream. Fast forward 25 years, and they are reunited once again, this time to fulfil another dream.

Given that the trailer explicitly reveals SRK portraying both a young and an older character in ‘Dunki’, it’s not a spoiler to mention that the narrative predominantly unfolds in flashback. We witness the backstory of how Manu and Hardy first crossed paths, became drawn to each other during the Donkey flight (illegal immigration) to reach London, and encountered various challenges along the journey.

Cast Performance:

Shah Rukh Khan‘s acting skills are subpar, and he seems to be consistently choosing low-quality films. Both ‘Pathaan’ and ‘Jawan’ were disappointing, and ‘Dunki’ follows the trend of being dreadful. It’s disheartening to witness such a talented person involve himself in such poor projects. Perhaps it says more about the unquestioning support of his fan base, who seem willing to accept anything he delivers, regardless of its quality.

SRK is portraying both a young and an older character in ‘Dunki’.

On the other hand, Vicky Kaushal, despite having minimal screen time, was an absolute delight to watch in ‘Dunki’. He skilfully conveyed every emotion, leaving viewers yearning for more of Kaushal in the film.

Taapsee Pannu brought a refreshing presence, once again showcasing her exceptional acting skills. Boman Irani, who portrayed an English teacher responsible for a classroom, aptly fulfilled his role and injected some humorous moments into the film.

What Works For The Film?

‘Dunki’ highlights how other countries reject visas for Indians based on financial status, education qualifications, and English-speaking skills. Director Rajkumar Hirani drew inspiration from real-life incidents to depict the harsh realities of the Donkey Route, emphasising its dangerous and arduous nature.

Furthermore, Vicky Kaushal stands out in the film as he maximises his limited screen time playing a naive small-town character eager to reach the UK to rescue his love. The actor excels in this role, particularly during some of the most emotionally charged moments in the first half of the movie.

What Doesn’t Work?

Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘Dunki’ falls short in narrative depth. The storytelling is weakly crafted and fails to capture the intrinsic essence of Hirani’s usual ability to establish a profound connection between the audience and the characters. In contrast to Rajkumar Hirani’s earlier successes like ‘3 Idiots’ and ‘PK,’ ‘Dunki’ falls significantly short.

The film lacks the depth found in his previous works, particularly during the Donkey Route journeys. Through his earlier works, Hirani has demonstrated his mastery as a storyteller, fearlessly delving into emotions and crafting scenes that tug at our heartstrings. However, within the 161-minute runtime of ‘Dunki,’ it is challenging to find anything that evokes emotions other than sheer boredom or irritation.

While possessing an intriguing concept of illegal immigration, the filmmaker failed to transform it into a more compelling narrative. The movie appears less convincing at several junctures. Moviegoers anticipated more exploration of the three friends’ 25-year stay in the UK, hoping for additional details on how they eventually obtained UK citizenship and why the process took such a considerable amount of time.

Speaking of Shah Rukh Khan, it’s perplexing why the highly anticipated partnerships between the superstar and renowned filmmakers always end up being plagued by bad luck. ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ with Imtiaz Ali and ‘Zero’ with Aanand L Rai were also anticipated collaborations that ultimately resulted in lukewarm outcomes.

‘Dunki’ brought together the superstar and Rajkumar Hirani, a filmmaker with a flawless track record and renowned as the master of family entertainers. It seemed like the ideal star vehicle for SRK after his action-packed performances in his recent films. Unfortunately, the SRK-Hirani collaboration only delivered monotony in an excessively formulaic heart-tugging narrative.

Even the pivotal scene where SRK discusses his homeland in a British courtroom is portrayed in a mundane fashion. The film could have significantly improved this moment if it didn’t exert excessive effort in emphasising the tear-jerking humanism of its protagonist.

Final Verdict:

‘Dunki’ is currently showing at a nearby multiplex, but if you’re wise, consider skipping it and saving your money. Despite the notable team of Rajkumar Hirani, Abhijat Joshi, and Kanika Dhillon, the film lacks impact and the distinctive touch that is typically associated with Hirani’s work. To add, even the trailer was a snooze-fest.

Here’s The Trailer Of Dunki:

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