Dunki: This Rajkumar Hirani Directorial Is A Heartwarming Tale That Tackles An Important Social Issue

The ace director is once again successful on taking the audiences through an emotional rollercoaster particularly in the second half

Dunki (Hindi)
Rating 3.5 out of 5
Starcast: Shah Rukh Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Anil Grover, Vikram Kochhar, Boman Irani and others extended special appearance (Vicky Kaushal)
Director and writer: Rajkumar Hirani
Additional writers: Kanika Dhillon and Abhijat Joshi
Producers: Gauri Khan, Rajkumar Hirani and Jyoti Deshpande
Production Companies: Jio Studios, Red Chillies entertainment and Rajkumar Hirani films
Genre: Comedy/drama
Running time: 2 hours and 36 minutes

Rajkumar Hirani is one of those filmmakers who has struck a chord right from his first one Munnabhai MBBS. The director has successfully developed the knack of bringing social issues to the fore in a way that is accessible to the mainstream audiences. The one exception though is Sanju as that was an autobiographical work.

With his latest Dunki Rajkumar Hirani has focused his lens on Donkey Flight (illegal immigration). The film opens with the characters of Manu (Taapsee Pannu), Buggu (Vikram Kochhar) and Balli (Anil Grover). They have been in London for the past 25 years but now they are homesick and want to return to India. But this is not possible for reasons that cannot be revealed here.

Taapsee Pannu and Shah Rukh Khan

The only person who can get them back to the country is Hardyal Singh Dhillon aka Hardy (Shah Rukh Khan). Manu, Buggu and Balli plan a meeting with Hardy in Dubai. The irony here is that once upon a time three of them were desperate to make a good living in London. The story shifts to a flashback where we are introduced to a group of people apart from those already mentioned. Their biggest dream is going to London in search of better prospects. Unfortunately all of them are poor in terms of both social status and education. In this scenario Hardy comes to that town situated in Punjab. Boman Irani plays Gulati. He runs an English speaking course. In this group of friends only one manages to pass the IELTS Exam. Manu and Balli manage to overcome their disappointment. Vicky Kaushal’s Sukhi though is not able to swallow the bitter pill. Sukhi’s reasons for going to London are different from Manu and Balii. He wants to save his ex girlfriend from an abusive marriage. Just before the interval there is the disturbing scene of Sukhi committing suicide by burning himself. Now Hardy takes it upon himself to make sure that Manu, Balii and others reach London even if it is through the illegal and dangerous means of Dunki.

Shah Rukh Khan with Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, Vikram Kochhar and Anil Grover

The first half of Dunki mostly has a breezy tone to it. There are many instances of Raj Kumar Hirani’s trademark humor in the portions featuring Boman Irani. The humor here hasn’t got the quality of the directors previous ones particularly the Munnabhai films and PK. The punch lines in fact come across as forced on certain occasions. However there are scenes which tickle your funny bone too.

There are also cute moments between Shah Rukh Khan and Taapsee that bring a smile to the viewers face. Through this love Rajkumar Hirani focuses on the serious subject of illegal migrants. How they resort to dangerous routes in order to reach foreign countries. Many of them do not even make it and die in the process.

There are scenes in the second half where we see the characters going through several ordeals in harsh terrains. These moments are disturbing to watch.

Raj Kumar Hirani, the successful director 

Rajkumar Hirani is also successful in making some pertinent points about the struggles of Non English speaking Indians.

What doesn’t work for Dunki apart from the inconsistent humor are its foreign characters. They are mostly reduced to stock caricatures.

Talking about the performances Shah Rukh Khan blends well into the world of Raj Kumar Hirani. He particularly shines in the second half when things get serious. Taapsee Manu is also solid as Manu. She shares a good chemistry with SRK. Her Punjabi dialect is also spot on bringing back memories of Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan.

Shah Rukh Khan plays the soldier

There are portions in the film where SRK and Taapsee are seen with grey hair reminding the viewers of Khan and Preity Zinta in Veer Zara. The prosthetic work is neat and as a result the audiences feel that they have convincingly aged.

Vikram Kochhar and Anil Grover also lend good support. They don’t feel burdened by the presence of SRK at any point. Vicky Kaushal in an extended special appearance makes his presence amply felt.

Pritam’s music is not a chartbuster but goes well with the mood of the film. Lutt Putt Gaya has a catchy tone. O Maahi and Nikile The Kabhi Hum Ghar Se are soulful in nature.

Watch Dunki for the top notch performances and the social relevancy of the subject.

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