Dunki Review: Shah Rukh Khan and Rajkumar Hirani pilot a family entertainer that's high on emotions and innocence

Film: Dunki
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Vikram Kochhar, Anil Grover, Vicky Kaushal, Boman Irani
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Rating: 4 moons

Donkey Flight might seem to be an alien concept for people residing in metro cities but it continues to plague rural areas in Punjab. With insufficient education and money, youngsters aspire to go to London to afford a living for their families. A concept like this has never been touched upon in Indian cinema and Rajkumar Hirani does the honours.

The master of blending humour with heart-aching emotions, Rajkumar tells the story of three friends from Laltu, a quiet village in Punjab. Manu (Taapsee Pannu), Buggu (Vikram Kochhar) and Balli (Anil Grover) dream of taking a flight to London to earn enough money to keep their families happy. Hardayal Singh Dhillon aka Hardy (Shah Rukh Khan) becomes their only beacon of hope. A fauji, he joins the trio in their preparation for an English-speaking exam that could help them get a visa to England. Under Gulati's (Boman Irani) guidance, they learn English. At the classes, they meet Sukhi (Vicky Kaushal) and he plays a catalyst in taking the narrative forward. 

Dunki marks Rajkumar’s and Shah Rukh’s maiden collaboration. Much-awaited one indeed. After having a successful year at the box office with Pathaan and Jawan, Shah Rukh returns to the silver screen with a softer, grounded and more realistic character that’s not macho. His entry might not be with fireworks but the impact is lasting. Dunki is a blend of humour and emotions which is expected from brand Rajkumar Hirani. This plays an important factor in bringing families to theatres. It is a clean, heartwarming and sincere attempt to shed light on the struggles and plight of illegal immigrants who have to risk their lives to achieve greater goals. 

Dunki’s first half balances between occasional good laughs and two love stories - both unfulfilled. It lays the foundation for an intense second half where humour takes a backseat and the story marches towards the conclusion. Manu’s and Hardy’s hardships are highlighted. Patriotism takes the front foot. Rajkumar sheds a layer of humour and puts a coat of intense drama around his film. The emotions are heartfelt, courtesy the fantastic bunch of actors. 

Dunki is engaging in most parts but the routine ‘lavatory’ jokes don’t do any good to the screenplay. Over-simplistic storytelling also hampers the flow. Despite being predictable, certain moments move you, primarily due to the rousing music. Dunki, written by Rajkumar, Kanika Dhillon and Abhijaat Joshi, has several moments that stay back in the mind. Don’t allow the trailer to form any sort of judgement; there’s more to the film.

Shah Rukh Khan is the heart and soul of Dunki. He wears the character of Hardy with utmost ease. Known as the ultimate romantic hero, he will make the audience fall in love with Hardy’s innocence and bravery. Shah Rukh’s charisma is what elevates the film. Taapsee Pannu gets a strong character to play and Manu steals hearts. She channels her inner Punjabi and rules the screen with her vivaciousness that comes with a blend of naivety. 

Vikram Kochhar puts up a heart-wrenching act as Buggu. He is phenomenal and steals the limelight in the second half. Anil Grover will make you laugh and cry with the way he infuses life into Balli. Vicky Kaushal, who has been credited for a special appearance, is the spine of Dunki. Without him and his incredible performance, the film could have not managed to stand upright. 

Dunki is a heartfelt and emotional film with a relevant setting. It makes for a good family viewing over the weekend. Go for it without preconceived notions.