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Rajkumar Hirani’s Magic Once Again Works

 Dr Ramandeep Mahal reviews 'Dunki'

The much-awaited 2023 movie Dunki puts viewers on an emotional journey they won't forget. This thought-provoking work evokes strong emotions in the viewer, from laughter to tears, and leaves a lasting impact. One will truly be blown away by Rajkunar Hirani’s (of the Sanju, Munna Bhai MBBS fame) symphony of character introductions and brilliant comedy moments. As the narrative unfolds, Hirani masterfully weaves in the emotional stories of the characters, which makes you feel connected by them. Though there are some questions left unanswered in the movie, it is a warm entertainer.  


Shahrukh Khan is Hardial Dhillon, fondly called Hardy, an ex-army man from Pathankot in the year 1995. He goes to Laltu, also in Punjab, where he comes across two or three Punjabis hell bent on going to London. In true Shahrukh Khan fashion, it becomes his personal mission to send them there and obviously fall in love with the pretty lady (Tapsee Pannu) on the way. Barely anything goes according to plan and now everyone must decide which dream to follow, leaving the country or the one of providing their families with bare necessities. The mode of illegal immigration that this Abhijat Joshi and Kanika Dhillon written film is inspired by is the soul crushing Dunki route journeys people from our side of the world undertake to get to USA, Canada, England and other western lands. These people mostly consist of those whose visas are likely to be rejected. These people somehow have to cross dense jungles, rivers, deserts to reach their dream land. But, if they want to survive the forces of nature as well as the border police they have to hide in the shadows, make no noise and at the end gain employment all at the same time. Now, one can imagine the sacrifices one must make for willing to leave one’s own country that is not stricken by war or famine. Alas, Dunki’s attempt to empathize with its own subject is not deep enough.


Vikram Kocchar is lovely as Buggu, a simpleton who wants to leave as his father is unemployed and his mother has to work as a security guard wearing ‘pants’, but she doesn’t seem to mind but he hates the way men look at her. Anil Grover plays the role of Balli who also has a mother who works hard at a tailoring, Tapsee Pannu is Manu Randhawa, who wants to leave as her family isn’t doing well financially. She is one feisty woman who can’t tolerate any nonsense from the men around her. Her acting is great as she defends Shahrukh’s character in the film, “Namuna nahi hai ye, nahi aati angrezi hoi gyi galti!” (don’t consider him a sample, he is not at fault if he is not well versed in English!). Now why these people aren’t doing well in Punjab isn’t explored at all in this film. What are the systems which are keeping them from earning well in Punjab? Logically one has to examine their motivations and their lack of understanding of what their journey to foreign lands is going to entail. Vicky Kaushal as Sukhi is one character who is written with deliberate humanity, a little funny when he reads the monologue on the unfairness of English Language IELTS exam, a little touching when we are brought face to face with the melancholy emerging from his lost love. Vicky Kaushal is known as an intense actor, so one gets engulfed in his sorrow too.


Shahrukh Khan seems to be the correct choice for this movie as he manages to bring romance even into the landscape of love and loss, like the song sequence ‘O Maahi’. The song ‘Nikle the kabhi ghar se’ really captures one’s mood when one sees the immigrants becoming the victims of exploitations and atrocities during the course of their journey. Despite its flaws and weaknesses, Dunki is a remarkable movie that moves viewers laugh, cry, and think. It is quite commendable that it can address significant societal concerns while maintaining the structure of an engaging story. This very remarkable cinematic experience is created by the brilliant performances, the poignant song placement, and the realistic portrayal of life in western countries. All in all, I would rate this movie 8 out of 10 based on Shahrukh’s performance and Rajkumar Hirani’s amalgamation of tragedy and comedy.


Dr. Ramandeep Mahal is currently working as an Assistant Professor of English at Guru Nanak Khalsa College Yamunanagar. She received her Doctorate degree from Maharishi Markandeshwar Mullana Ambala in 2018. Her research interests include Anglo-American Literature, Indian Writing in English, African Literature. She is the author of more than twenty research papers.

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