Dunki review, it explores the ethical and legal challenges of illegal immigration with a blend of humor and drama,; a perilous journey without maps
Dunki, directed and edited by Rajkumar Hirani, stands out by not solely relying on Shahrukh Khan’s extraordinary charm. Without the lead actor’s charisma, this film would not have its unique essence. Yet, its allure also arises from a cleverly constructed screenplay.
Authored by Hirani, Abhijat Joshi, and Kanika Dhillon, Dunki explores the perils of illegal immigration with a blend of humor, drama, and a considerate acknowledgment of the ethical and legal challenges tied to entering a foreign land without a visa.
The storyline’s circular nature mirrors the confusion faced by those oscillating between aspirations and the harsh realities of their chosen path. It also showcases near-perfect structure, delving into the fears and reservations of those daring to leave their homeland for a life in a distant nation.
The initial half of Dunki, beginning with an elderly woman evading a London hospital to seek help from an immigration advocate, is lively and often humorous. The latter part, a 160-minute journey, adopts a more serious tone.
A perilous journey without maps—across a river, a desert, a snow-covered mountain, and a vast wilderness—leads to death and calamity. All of this unfolds after the protagonist and companions exhaust every trick to outsmart the IELTS system.
Dunki thrives on impeccable performances, with Shah Rukh Khan and Taapsee Pannu taking the lead, portraying a woman transcending the role of a romantic interest. They navigate challenges prompted by repeated leaps of faith into unfamiliar territories.
At the heart of the plot is a love story full of surprises, avoiding unnecessary complications. It achieves a delicate balance between heart, mind, and soul, weaving an emotionally engaging tale with twists within reasonable credulity.
Dunki, co-produced by Red Chillies Entertainment, carves out distinct spaces for the four main characters—Hardayal “Hardy” Dhillon (SRK), Manu Randhawa (Taapsee Pannu), Buggu Lakhanpal (Vikram Kochhar), and Balli Kakkar (Anil Grover). Their stories contribute substantially to the overarching plot.
Each character possesses a narrative extending beyond their dedicated screen time, enriching the fabric of experiences constituting the overall plot.
Buggu’s mother works as a security guard to sustain their home. Balli’s mom engages in odd tailoring jobs for sustenance. Meanwhile, Manu loses her home due to an unpaid debt.
The narrative transitions between the present and the mid-1990s, focusing on three young citizens of Laltu, Punjab—Manu, Buggu, and Balli. Their shared dream is to escape to London, defying poverty.
One breaks the bank, another learns wrestling for a visa, and all enroll in a spoken English academy run by Geetu Gulati (Boman Irani), who claims that a passage to England would be “a piece of cake.”
Their efforts backfire. Lives are lost, money is wasted, and wrestling moves learned in pits prove futile when it matters.
Fortuitously, resourceful Hardy Dhillon of Pathankot joins them, becoming their go-to for everything except English-speaking skills.
Their plunge into a daring scheme exposes them to a realm where trigger-happy border guards show no qualms about taking lives.
While exploring the trials of undocumented immigrants and delving into departures, destinations, and displacements in the lives of illegals, the film offers an entertaining yet sobering perspective on the “dunki” (colloquial for unlawful border crossing) undertaken for a better life in Europe.
Though some parts may express familiar truths and approach contrived notes, Dunki has passages marked by commendable insight, blending emotion and intelligence. These attributes prevent the somewhat predictable patterns from undermining the overall impact of Hardy, Manu, Buggu, and Balli’s perilous journey.
One might critique Dunki for occasionally trivializing the desire to escape one’s village and country, ostensibly revolting against the British legacy on the Indian subcontinent. Thankfully, the characters—and the film—come full circle, harboring no false hopes.
This undoubtedly stands as a Rajkumar Hirani creation, reveling in the comedic aspect of people grappling with a world where the rule book overshadows human sentiments and needs. Fences erected by nations place the less privileged at an insurmountable disadvantage, prompting desperate and often fatal measures.
Shahrukh Khan’s persona in Dunki sharply contrasts with his roles in the preceding year’s releases. He embodies an altruistic troubleshooter risking death and deportation for the sake of truth. As a young man stranded by fate and an aged villager with an undiminished zest for life, his portrayal exudes charm and cheerfulness. Taapsee Pannu’s performance matches SRK’s prowess with impressive finesse—a feat in itself.
In a memorable cameo, Vicky Kaushal, cast as an individual with a compelling reason for a UK visa, leaves a lasting impression. Vikram Kochhar and Anil Grover adeptly seize their roles in a film that, unlike average star-driven Bollywood vehicles, doesn’t relegate them to the periphery.
Dunki may not break boundaries, but the path it takes leads in the right direction.
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, Boman Irani, Vikram Kochhar, and Anil Grover
Director: Rajkumar Hirani