Of late, I have felt that the movies of Rajkumar Hirani have not aged well, as when you rewatch them, the loudness kind of sticks out. Yes, the humor in them has always helped them cover up the glossy and preachy messaging. When it comes to Dunki, he is very much sort of repeating the algorithm he has set for creating drama. But this time, the core is sort of scattered, and the movie is somewhat struggling to establish its title as its central focus. With predictability and melodrama not helping this skimmed-through immigrant journey, there is no doubt in my mind when I say that Dunki is the weakest Rajkumar Hirani film.
Hardy Singh is our hero who came to this village in Punjab to return the radio of the man who saved his life while he was serving in the army. There, he met Manu and her friends, who were all trying to go to London to earn a living. Hardy decided to help these folks in their efforts, and what we see is the risky path taken by Hardy and the gang to reach their destination.
At the very end of the movie, Rajkumar Hirani does this thing, where he presents a series of facts about the realities of illegal immigration along with some heartbreaking photos of all the things people had to go through. While watching those bits in the movie, I felt that this should have been the movie’s focus. But sadly, Hirani and his writers Abhijat Joshi and Kanika Dhillon have given less space to the toughest part of the whole process, which is the Dunki journey. It is only in the second half that the movie reaches the illegal immigration episodes, and it sort of ends very quickly and starts to talk about the pointlessness of the London dream and the struggles of continuing in London as an immigrant. I am not saying it shouldn’t talk about the struggle of those who reached London. But the light-hearted way of presenting their struggles reduces the movie’s drama.
This is Shah Rukh Khan’s third film of the year, and for someone like me who has always adored the vintage SRK, it was good to see him in a less macho avatar for a significant part of the movie. Having said that, the Punjabi accent and the performance in certain bits felt a bit too loud, and even in the highly sentimental climax bits, it was a bit difficult to feel for that character. The kind of image Taapsee Pannu has created for herself as the feisty Punjabi Khudi actually works in favor of her casting as Manu. The body language of all the actors, including Pannu, in playing the older version of their respective characters felt a bit gimmicky. Even though it was a small character, I felt that Vicky Kaushal was the only actor in the whole cast whose performance meter had a sync with Hirani’s drama. Vikram Kochhar, who got his big break in this film, was hilarious in that role along with names like Anil Grover and Hirani’s constant, Boman Irani.
When you look at the writing of this film, one can sense an over-hastiness in assembling the story. Rajkumar Hirani wants to take the subject and present it in his own way. So, in the movie’s first half, you have this fun-filled flashback of characters where they are struggling to pass the IELTS barrier. The love story is happening in that episode along with several other anecdotal-level incidents. Then when the movie enters the pivotal part, even though the montages filled with song and one fight sequence in that deserted space are there, the struggle of the individuals doesn’t really stay with you. And the visualization of some of the risks taken by these people doesn’t look so convincing. And like I already said, the London chapter also feels less emotional because it was somewhere trying to be in that signature Hirani feel-good space. The movie’s cinematography mostly has a flatly lit texture with a lot of color visible in the frame, to keep the audience in a hopeful frame of mind. The music works for the film, and other than Lutput, every other song is placed to enhance the drama.
There is a sequence in the movie’s last act where Hardy has done clever planning to make the return Dunki easy for the oldies. The only bit that can make you clap for the fun or brilliance of the script is that patch of the writing, which by the way is also kind of guessable by the time the film approaches the revealing point. Other than that, Dunki from Rajkumar Hirani struggles to excite you with its narrative.
With predictability and melodrama not helping this skimmed-through immigrant journey, there is no doubt in my mind when I say that Dunki is the weakest Rajkumar Hirani film.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended