Why, Hirani, why? What prompted him to make this godforsaken misfire? What has happened to the brilliant flair for farce and social comment he once displayed in Munnabhai MBBS and its even superior sequel Lage Raho Munnabhai? Hirani’s last work Sanju , which was a cream-cracker version of a stubbornly adventurous life, was mired in mediocrity. But at least it wasn’t dull.
Dunki is dreadfully torpid. In terms of sense and sensibility , coherence and basic common sense, it is a better film than Shah Rukh Khan’s two other films Pathaan and Jawaan this year. But that’s no consolation for the absurd writing(Hirani, Abhijat Joshi and Kanika Dhillon) and endless giggle-moments that just don’t land.
Worst still, the “jokes” go on and on like a stand-up act which clearly has no punchline but goes on in the hope that rapid movement would compensate for abysmal humourlessness.
The turgid script purports to build a strong case against the expulsion of illegal immigrants from Europe, but ends up making the illegals in blunder-land look so silly and compromised you want to just yank them off the stage of life.
In a London court , when Hardy(SRK) is asked by a frail judge who probably wants to go back home to play with his grandchildren , if Hardy wants asylum in England to protect himself from his own country, this is Hardy’s moment to take off on a patriotic rhetoric. The Judge looks like he would rather retire than listen to this flag-hoisting verbiage.
The film is filled with unintentional humour, like a corpse coming alive when you least expected or a mother in village in Punjab (Laltu) being told her son Baggu (Vikram Kochhar) has just squandered off her savings in a fake visa racket. Worse still is a Saudi rogue soldier who intercepts our dunki heroes. The actor who plays the villain seems to be a fan of villains from the 1970s who smoked cigars. This one looks like he smokes a dangerous weed.
Ah, there is an ongoing tasteless joke about Baggu’s mother(Sapna Sand) wearing pants for her job as a security guard. Shapeless rustic Punjabi woman in pants…get it? But the worst and most offensive joke is when the dunkis(the illegal immigrants) reach England and see a Black man in the distance.
“Have we reached Africa by mistake?” asks Baggu.
Seriously? Are we supposed to laugh at Hirani’s ha-ha-kar: rhymes with balaatkaar which Hirani thought was a big joke in 3 Idiots . If only the audience had not laughed back then , we would not have ben subjected to the series of inappropriate digs in Dunki at all sorts of losers, especially those who can’t speak English properly, played by actors who probably even snore in English in real life. Their job interviews start off well and then suffer from the malady that kills the overall impact of the film: it just doesn’t know where to stop.
As the sluggish comedy of foreigners approaches its end, Hirani and his writers suddenly want to do a classic story with SRK and Pannu. A bit late in the day to change from Zabaan Sambhaalke to Our Souls At Night.
Redeeming factors: Vicky Kaushal as a man desperate to reach London to save his beloved from a violent husband , and Sunil Grover completely unrecognizable ins curly haired super-slim avatar. At least these actors are seen trying to do something with their roles in a screenplay that goes alarmingly off-course from the time Shah Rukh Khan stands alert at the railway station for the national anthem while a passenger flees with his goods.
This is not going anywhere we want to go.