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‘Dunki’ Movie Review: A Heartwarming Tale of Love, Dreams, and Immigration

‘Dunki’ Movie Review:

Rajkumar Hirani’s latest cinematic offering, ‘Dunki,’ brings together the charismatic duo of Shah Rukh Khan and Taapsee Pannu in a heartwarming tale that promises to be a warm and cozy gift for the entire family. The film revolves around the character of Manu Randhawa, played by Taapsee Pannu, who, in her 50s, finds herself homesick and desperate to return to India. Accompanied by her friends Buggu Lakhanpal (Vikram Kochhar) and Balli (Anil Grover), the trio faces visa troubles from the British embassy, leading Manu to seek the help of Hardy, portrayed by Shah Rukh Khan, in Punjab.

Backdrop: The Journey Begins in 1995:

The narrative unfolds through a captivating flashback to 1995 in Laltu, Punjab, where Manu, Buggu, and Balli, along with a cameo appearance by Vicky Kaushal as Sukhi, dreamed of a better life in London. Enter Hardy, a soldier who pledges to help them realize their aspirations. Fast forward 25 years, and the trio is reunited to embark on another dream.

Rajkumar Hirani’s Signature Touch:

Laced with Rajkumar Hirani’s signature style, ‘Dunki’ is a rollercoaster of emotions, skillfully interwoven with humor that, at times, verges on overwhelming. The film predominantly unfolds through a flashback, narrating the story of how Manu and Hardy met and became entangled in the challenges of illegal immigration, taking the infamous ‘Donkey Flight’ to reach London. Hirani, returning to the director’s chair after a five-year hiatus since ‘Sanju,’ immerses the audience in a world replete with love, heartbreaks, laughter, tears, hope, and failure. The soul-soothing music, relying heavily on impactful lyrics and background scores, complements the emotional narrative.

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Compelling Storytelling: Love, Dreams, and the Reality of Illegal Migration:

Beyond the surface of a conventional boy-meets-girl love story, ‘Dunki’ delves into a compelling narrative that addresses the significant issue of illegal migration. Hirani masterfully blends the love story at its core with the harsh reality faced by Indian migrants taking perilous routes to foreign lands, often sacrificing their lives in the process. The film takes a poignant yet lighter tone to shed light on why the underprivileged and non-English-speaking Indians face challenges in obtaining visas for several countries. The sequences portraying the characters undertaking arduous journeys through difficult locations and borders evoke both heart-wrenching and lump-in-the-throat moments.

Flawless Writing with Room for Execution Improvement:

The collaborative efforts of Abhijat Joshi, Rajkumar Hirani, and Kanika Dhillon in crafting the story yield a flawless narrative. However, the execution, though competent, leaves room for improvement. While ‘Dunki’ may not stand out as one of Hirani’s best works, its ability to keep the audience hooked, despite a slow-paced first half, promises a more engaging second half in the 20 minutes leading up to the interval.

Humor with Varied Success:

A standout scene in the film revolves around the IELTS exam preparation, led by the English-speaking teacher Gulati (Boman Irani). The humor in this segment, while attempting to infuse levity, suffers from a lack of organic delivery. The writing falters, and the jokes feel forced, missing the genuine laughs and subtlety characteristic of Hirani’s previous successes like ‘Munnabhai’ and ‘3 Idiots.’ In ‘Dunki,’ the ensemble cast appears to struggle at times to evoke genuine laughter, and even the one-liners and punches come across as contrived.

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Star Power and Performances:

Shah Rukh Khan emerges as the undeniable star attraction in ‘Dunki.’ The film presents him in a familiar avatar, seen multiple times before. As the young, clean-shaven hero falling for the first girl he meets in Punjab, Khan is endearing and sweet. However, it’s in the second half, as the gang navigates treacherous paths to London, that Khan’s charm truly shines. The stark contrast with his action-packed roles in ‘Pathaan’ and ‘Jawan’ earlier in the year makes ‘Dunki’ a refreshing showcase of Khan’s versatility. Taapsee Pannu, portraying Manu, brings authenticity to her Punjabi character, thanks to her natural performance and Punjabi genes. Her grip on both emotional and humorous scenes is evident throughout the film.

Chemistry and Timelines:

The chemistry between SRK and Taapsee, while adequate, fails to ignite the expected sparks. The portions featuring them with grey hair and wrinkled skin might evoke nostalgia for ‘Veer Zara,’ but the understanding of the timeline raises questions. Despite starting their journey at 25, the characters appear to age drastically 25 years later, leaving viewers puzzled.

Supporting Cast:

Vikram Kochhar and Anil Grover deliver convincing performances, providing robust support to the script without being overshadowed by SRK and Taapsee’s screen presence. Vicky Kaushal’s special appearance stands out as a high point, leaving a lasting impact on his limited screen time. The entire cast, including family members of the protagonists, contributes to heartwarming moments, adding depth to the overall narrative.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, ‘Dunki’ emerges as a film that elicits a tearful smile. Positioned as an absolute family entertainer, it stands in stark contrast to films like ‘Animal’ with its glorified violence. ‘Dunki’ offers an emotional rollercoaster, seamlessly blending elements of love, dreams, and the harsh realities of illegal migration. While it may not rank among Rajkumar Hirani’s best works, the film succeeds in capturing the audience’s attention and creating a memorable cinematic experience. For those seeking a wholesome family film that tugs at the heartstrings, ‘Dunki’ promises to be a delightful ride.

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