In this captivating tale, we are introduced to the valiant soldier, Hardayal Singh Dhillon, portrayed by the illustrious Shah Rukh Khan. Embarking on a formidable and daring endeavor, he undertakes a mission of utmost importance – to assist a group of steadfast companions in their pursuit of achieving their cherished aspiration of journeying to the enchanting land of England. The task at hand appears to be insurmountable, as they lack both the necessary visa and the financial means to procure a ticket. And so begins a journey that holds the promise of forever altering the course of their lives.
In this review, we delve into the poignant tale of Manu (portrayed by the talented Taapsee Pannu) as she grapples with her deteriorating health and an overwhelming desire to return to her homeland, India. It is during this trying time that she comes to the profound realization that her sole beacon of hope lies in the enigmatic figure of Hardayal Singh Dhillon, affectionately known as Hardy. Having forsaken her motherland years ago in pursuit of a brighter future, Manu now finds herself reliant on Hardy’s benevolence and expertise to facilitate her long-awaited homecoming.
A quarter of a century ago, Hardy ventured into the secluded village of Laltu, nestled in the heart of Punjab, with a singular purpose: to locate the individual who had valiantly rescued him, thus preserving his very existence. However, fate led him to cross paths with a formidable clique comprising of Manu (portrayed by the talented Taapsee Pannu), Buggu (brought to life by the versatile Vikram Kochchar), and Balli (skillfully portrayed by the esteemed Anil Grover). Their shared aspiration was to embark on a journey to the United Kingdom, driven by the pursuit of a more promising existence.
The determined trio exhaustively explored every avenue in their quest to obtain an immigration visa – from immersing themselves in the art of wrestling to orchestrating sham marriages and acquiring counterfeit degrees, unwittingly succumbing to various fraudulent schemes in the process. Ultimately, they make the resolute decision to embark on the journey of acquiring proficiency in the English language, driven by the fervent aspiration of attaining a coveted student visa. It is at this juncture that they encounter Sukhi (portrayed by the talented Vicky Kaushal), a character driven by an unwavering determination to reach the bustling city of London, propelled by his own deeply personal motivations. “Birmingham, beckoning me forth,” becomes their resolute mantra.
However, despite their relentless endeavors, when the visa is ultimately denied, a series of unfortunate events ensue. Consumed by sorrow over the unfolding of events, Hardy assumes the weighty responsibility of forging a pathway for his newfound companions to access the distant shores they ardently yearn for. They courageously opt for the arduous path known as the “donkey” or “Dunki” route, a clandestine passage utilized by undocumented migrants. The path is fraught with turbulence, beset by trials and tribulations.
The tale of ‘Dunki’s’ is a poignant narrative, weaving together the threads of camaraderie, love, and a myriad of emotions that tug at the heartstrings, leaving one both devastated and uplifted. The tender love story of Manu and Hardy unravels, traversing from the quaint town of Laltu to the bustling city of London and back again. In trademark Hirani fashion, the film boasts an abundance of comedy, skillfully interwoven with satire, resulting in an immensely entertaining experience. Furthermore, the film delivers a powerful message, adding depth to the overall narrative. While the perspective on the matter is oversimplified and occasionally the humor is questionable. The sprawling narrative, crafted by the talented trio of Abhijat Joshi, Rajkumar Hirani, and Kanika Dhillon, effortlessly traverses both geographical boundaries and diverse landscapes. Moreover, it gracefully embarks on a remarkable 25-year time leap, further enhancing its depth and scope.
“Dunki” is a cinematic masterpiece that delves into the depths of unfulfilled aspirations, compelling its audience to contemplate the profound human desire to reach beyond the confines of one’s means and boundaries in pursuit of their dreams. The notion that attaining residency in a developed nation is solely contingent upon the prospects of a promising future and the unwavering determination to achieve it through any available means. Manu confidently declares, “I aspire to venture to London and earn in pounds.”
As the cinematic narrative unfolds across vast continents and ever-shifting landscapes, our protagonists deftly evade a barrage of bullets, courageously place their lives on the line, and ultimately come to the profound realization that their coveted dream destination fails to exude the luminous allure they had envisioned. Their dream is steeped in naivety, blissfully ignorant of the harsh realities that accompany the life of an undocumented immigrant. Nevertheless, brace yourself for an abundance of poignant moments as the screenplay is imbued with numerous emotional blows that are sure to tug at your heartstrings. With its fair share of meandering moments, loopholes, and an old-world charm that may not resonate with everyone, the piece undeniably possesses its own distinct allure.
Following the consecutive triumphs of the blockbuster hits “Pathaan” and “Jawan,” the highly anticipated arrival of Shah Rukh Khan’s “Dunki” is poised to captivate audiences with grandeur. This film signifies the inaugural collaboration between the esteemed Rajkumar Hirani and the illustrious Khan. Departing from the archetype of an action hero that he embodied in his initial two endeavors this year, Hirani presents to us a complete Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Dunki’ – a character that is not only captivating, but also exudes charm, romance, humor, and effortlessly executes some awe-inspiring action sequences. The film cleverly incorporates meta references and pays homage to Khan’s iconic cinematic moments.
Shah Rukh Khan, portraying the dapper and youthful Hardy, exudes a sensational aura that effortlessly captivates, leaving one irresistibly enchanted by his innate charm. In the present day, the salt-and-pepper adorned Hardayal continues to exude a delightful charm, even after a span of 25 years. Vicky Kaushal’s exceptional portrayal of Sukhi leaves a lasting impression, as he skillfully captures the essence of his character’s raw emotions with a moving performance. Taapsee Pannu dazzles with an exuberant and captivating portrayal. Anil Grover and Vikram Kochchar both deliver performances that are truly commendable.
The cinematography, masterfully executed by Muraleedharan C.K., Manush Nandan, and Amit Roy, is nothing short of exceptional. Every frame is meticulously composed, capturing the essence of each scene with unparalleled precision. The seamless blend of visual elements creates a captivating visual narrative that leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. Furthermore, the background music accompanying the film is of the highest caliber. It effortlessly weaves itself into the fabric of the story, enhancing the emotional depth and intensity of each moment.
The skillful composition and arrangement of the music elevate the overall cinematic experienceThe music of ‘Dunki’s’, composed by the talented Pritam, excels in accentuating every emotion, making a strong case for the composer’s claim to the title of best Hindi movie music soundtrack of the year. Whether it be the mischievous yet adorable charm of “Lutt Putt Gaya” (performed by Arijit Singh, Swanand Kirkire, IP Singh), the introspective and soul-searching melodies of Nikle The Kabhi (sung by Sonu Nigam, with lyrics by Javed Akhtar), the profoundly romantic composition of Oh Maahi (performed by Arijit Singh, penned by Irshad Kamil), the irresistibly catchy beats of Banda (sung by Diljit Dosanjh, with lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya), or the emotionally stirring tunes of Main tera rasta dekhunga (performed by Shadab Faridi, Altamash Faridi, with lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya) and Chal Ve Watna (sung by Javed Ali, with lyrics by Varun Grover), this soundtrack is one that lingers in your heart and mind.
In its entirety, ‘Dunki’ proves to be a captivating source of wholesome entertainment, evoking a sense of inspiration, contemporary significance, and heartfelt romance, all while exploring the profound theme of reconnecting with one’s origins.