Art & Entertainment

‘Dunki’ Movie Review: Let’s Agree, Shah Rukh Khan’s Film On Immigration Woes Isn’t Rajkumar Hirani’s Best Work

Rajkumar Hirani is here with his next directorial and this time it stars Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role. Is the film worth your time? Or can you skip it for an OTT release? Read the full movie review to find out.

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A Still From ‘Dunki’
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Rajkumar Hirani and Shah Rukh Khan are coming together for the first time in a film. The two were supposed to work together in Rajkumar Hirani's first directorial, ‘Munnabhai MBBS’, but for some reason that fell off at the last moment and Sanjay Dutt became the iconic Munnabhai. Since then the two have tried to join forces quite a lot but nothing materialised until ‘Dunki’ came along. The film has finally released, and here is all that you need to know about it.

‘Dunki’: Story

Dunki’ revolves around a group of three friends (Taapsee Pannu, Vikram Kochhar, Anil Grover) who dream of going to London. However, neither of them has the money or the qualifications needed to get a visa to go to England. A soldier (Shah Rukh Khan) comes to their village and gives them hope that they can also go to London. They join an IELTS coaching class (run by Boman Irani) where they meet another similar aspirant (Vicky Kaushal). After a tragic incident, the soldier takes it upon himself to now take them all on a perilous journey across borders which will test their guts out. Not only that, but it will also test their loyalty towards their motherland.

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‘Dunki’: Performances

Vicky Kaushal may have just had a special appearance in the film, but he is the one who walks away with the lion’s share of the praises. There is something special that Rajkumar Hirani manages to evoke out of Vicky Kaushal that he eats the cherry on the cake in all his films. He did the same in ‘Sanju’ where he got more praise than Ranbir Kapoor, and he has done that now again with ‘Dunki’. Whether it’s the performance of a jolted lover, or that of a drunkard, or that of a person in massive shock – Vicky Kaushal nails every emotion to perfection.

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Shah Rukh Khan indeed carries the entire weight of the film on his shoulders. While it’s good to see him in a loverboy avatar after two back-to-back heavyweight action films like ‘Pathaan’ and ‘Jawan’. He gets the emotional bits so perfectly that at times you’re thinking why are the other things happening and why can’t we just keep listening to monologue after monologue of SRK talking? Keeping the fandom aside, his performance was very well peppered with comedy, romance and patriotism as well. Also, his younger look clean-shaven look is something that’s no longer suiting him. He was the quintessential chocolate boy which everyone loved, but now, in a clean shaved avatar, it just makes him feel so old, and in order to hide that aspect, he seems to use a lot of make-up or probably visual effects, but it eventually doesn’t do justice. On the other hand, his bearded look feels more manly, more his actual age, and much sexier as well. While I won’t call this his best performance, but definitely it’s good to see him making you fall in love once again – something for which he is known.

Taapsee Pannu has been utterly wasted in the film. Honestly, after seeing her play the lead in so many different kinds of films, it feels sad to see her in quite a quintessential damsel in distress sort of a character. Nothing wrong in playing such characters but Taapsee Pannu has always given characters that try to be different from the usual characters that actresses play, and that’s been her USP. After seeing her in this role, it feels it could have been done by just about any actress, and didn’t need the expertise of someone like Taapsee Pannu. Her performance showed this even as she didn’t have that usual zest and zing in her voice and her body language. She doesn’t have that fighting spirit that most of her characters have, which is something why she is loved so much.

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Vikram Kochhar and Anil Grover will definitely hook you on with their performances. While Vikram Kochhar’s high-spirited vocals keep you pumped up and give the necessary comic feel, Anil Grover’s hold on his emotional dialogues makes you want to root for his performance. What’s the best part about their performance is that they’ve made the character feel so relatable. Every one of us met or seen such characters in our lives. Also, their bonding and friendship are something that shows onscreen. You might have better tales of friendship than theirs but you might have to look too hard to get a tale of friendship this real and relatable. Both of them had a decent character and did exceedingly well.

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Boman Irani, whom Rajkumar Hirani considers a lucky charm, didn’t have too much to do in the film. It feels as if he was there just for the good luck factor.

A special mention to Deven Bhojani who got the dialect so brilliantly. It was his Gujarati mixed with the British accent along with his funny antics that you will not forget even when you’re out of the theatres.

‘Dunki’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects

Through his directorials, we’ve seen Rajkumar Hirani deliver stories which were much more emotional and even had important life-altering messages and were even light-hearted. In his quest to keep the story light-hearted the emotional bits have gone a bit too less, and that kills the tempo of the film. Rajkumar Hirani is known for throwing varied emotional angles at the audiences, but here, that feeling of sitting through a Rajkumar Hirani film wasn’t just there. Even if you’re not one of those people who cry after watching films, a Rajkumar Hirani film does make your eyes wet. Whether it was ‘Munnabhai MBBS’, ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’, ‘3 Idiots’, ‘PK’ or even ‘Sanju’ all of them make you get heavily emotional at some point or the other. In ‘Dunki’ that aspect was missing, and you were feeling the story, but never feeling it to the extent that you start getting teary-eyed.

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What kills the film is the writing by Abhijat Joshi, Rajkumar Hirani and Kanika Dhillon. Usually, the 3 come up with some of the best stories. While Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani have their brand of emotional stories, and Kanika Dhillon has her brand of thrillers, but the combination of them coming together seems to have mellowed down the alluring effect that each has in their own genre. There are bits in the films which aren’t boring, but you feel that they are so plain Jane that you can predict them from a mile away. There are hardly any twists and turns in the film which will give you a moment of jumping out of the seat. It’s one of those mellowed storylines which you usually see in some of those feel-good Christmas films.

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The cinematography by C. K. Muraleedharan, Manush Nandan, Amit Roy and Kumar Pankaj is one of the best aspects of the film. From the way they’ve shot the beautiful countryside of Punjab to the way they’ve showcased the Middle Eastern countries to the way they’ve revealed a different side of London, they’ve given the film some of the best high points. Had the cinematography been also drab, the film would have been a total disaster from a technical standpoint. It’s only because the film has been shot so nicely that you’re still hooked onto the end and you don’t end up cursing the film.

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Rajkumar Hirani could have also used his snipper a bit more to edit off some of the unimportant bits in the first half. While the main crux of the story is about the tumultuous journey of illegal immigrants from India to a foreign nation, that aspect comes only after the first half ends. It should have been brought up much earlier in the middle of the first half so that the hardships could have been shown much more.

Pritam too hasn’t delivered his best in ‘Dunki’. A film as big as a Rajkumar Hirani directorial and Shah Rukh Khan starrer should have had music from Pritam of the level of his ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ soundtrack. However, that didn’t happen. ‘Nikle The Kabhi Hum Ghar Se’ and ‘Main Tera Rasta Dekhunga’ definitely make an impact, but it’s not something that you’ll have on your playlists for decades. If you look back, Rajkumar Hirani’s films are usually defined by Shantanu Moitra’s music, and songs like ‘Pal Pal Har Pal’ from ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ or ‘Zoobie Doobie’ from ‘3 Idiots’ or ‘Chaar Kadam’ from ‘PK’ are still popular even after a decade or two of them having been released. Not sure why Shantanu Moitra was overlooked for Pritam in this film. Pritam had some big boots to fill, and he didn’t live up to the expectations.

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‘Dunki’: Cast & Crew

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Boman Irani, Vicky Kaushal, Vikram Kochhar, Anil Grover, Jyoti Subhash, Deven Bhojani, Arun Bali

Available In: Theatres

Duration: 2 Hours 40 Minutes

Dunki’: Can Kids Watch It?

Yes

Outlook’s Verdict

Let’s just all agree that ‘Dunki’ isn’t Rajkumar Hirani’s best work. He has done way better films, which bumped up the expectations from this film. To add to that, this time he had Shah Rukh Khan for the first time. Yet, it didn’t live up to the hype. This is one of those films which you’ll enjoy sitting at home and watching on OTT, but would you love to spend Rs 2000 for a day’s outing and watch it in theatres? Probably no. It’s just about an Average film. I am going with 2.5 stars.

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