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3 Reviews Of Dunki – A Mixed Bag of Charm and Missed Opportunities

Reviewers share their opinion regarding the popular film, 'Dunki'

A Glimpse into Dreams and Desperation


Dunki is a story of dreams that come at a price!

In Laltu Punjab, hundreds are living in poverty and eking out a living! For them, the lure of a foreign land is a passport to a promising future. With the odds stacked heavily against them – the options are far and few – either they get a student visa for themselves or go the donkeys/ ‘dunki’ way since a normal visa is beyond their means.

There is social commentary beautifully woven into the narrative – the mushrooming English-speaking centres that promise dreamers a good IELTS score in three months under the tutelage of opportunistic English wizards like Boman Irani -who fumbles when asked the full form of IELTS and himself operates in stock phrases and sentences – “Birmingham here I come” every single day of his skewed English life. Boman however remains highly under-utilised being reduced to a caricature that has no scope for growth unlike in 3 Idiots.

The scapegoats are desperate candidates like Sukhi – Vicky Kaushal shines in a 15-minute cameo and reinforces how spontaneous and effortless an actor he is. What could have become a stereotype of a lovesick pining ‘ashiq’ becomes a metaphor for the hopelessness of the situation. This is typical Hirani fare – remember Ali Fazal in 3 Idiots? But Vicky rises above it all as a burning example of our thwarted dreams in a society where girls are married off to pound-rich boys working in foreign lands at the cost of their personal choice and happiness.

The second half deep dives into the issue of illegal immigration and how the dunkis take a horrifying circuitous route fraught with danger and death at every corner in a hapless, desperate bid at a better life – if they make it through.

Some scenes stay etched here – the make-do pipes that help them breathe underwater for almost 8-9 hours with shots being fired relentlessly from the patrol tower( though couldn’t understand how that can be ), the container where immigrants are dumped in for a month where food and excreta are all the same, the final escape caved inside mattresses and car seats. The sheer horror and desperation of it all is numbing – only to reach the place of their dreams -London to find that those who made it before them now beg on the streets and lead the life of fugitives in the absence of an identity.

A grim reminder of how elusive a perfect life is.

The court scene in particular is a strong socio-political commentary brilliantly executed by SRK. There are some who’d still choose their country over their dreams! And those who don’t, like Manu / Taapse, do so not because they don’t want to, but can’t.

The song ‘Main tera rasta Dekhunga’ is goosebumpish and heartbreaking at the same time. But we keep hoping for better times …

The music and the songs are magical, to say the least – whether it’s the effusive ‘lutt putt,’ the haunting ‘O Maahi,’ the poignant ‘Nikle the hum,’ the anthemic ‘Chal ve watna’ – it’s an immersive musical extravaganza – each song evoking emotions of a different kind.

Pritam strikes gold again!

It was a 3 p.m. show we attended. It was houseful and not a soul stirred till the end credits rolled out – the entire theatre riding high on the magic of SRK and Hirani.

The only thing that could’ve been better is the chemistry between SRK and Taapse -despite a fabulous act by the latter, the spark seemed a tad tepid.


A compelling narrative, a spectrum of emotions, a stellar cast and acting, spectacular cinematography, and out-of-the-world music – Hirani scores high in every aspect. This is a movie worth spending on and has to be watched in the theatre!

An Antidote to Bollywood’s Bloodbath


Last year I wrote an open letter to my forever crush Shah Rukh Khan, and called it – No Raj Or Rahul For Me; Can We Have More Of Sunil Or Dr Jahangir Khan Please?

After watching Dunki yesterday, I felt it was an answer to that plea. Tackling an important issue of illegal immigration, this movie takes you back to those hopeless romances of the 90s. A positive Veer Zara vibe with more practicality sewn into it.

Yes, those of you who will go in search of an adrenaline rush and are still high on animal dopes, will find this movie slow. Because this storytelling doesn’t cater to the fast-dating and soon-moving millennial generation. This is away from all the bloodshed and goriness Bollywood had inflicted upon throughout the year, for the hopeless romantics who still believe in fairy tales. Dunki movie is about dreams, aspirations, and personal challenges but above all it is about the undying human spirit. And also how we fall for the “grass is greener on the other side” trope.

While the experience of the movie was heightened by SRK’s charm, the real stars of the movie were the performances, especially from Tapasee Pannu and Vicky Kaushal. If SRK’s Hardy showcased a determined lover, it was Vicky Kaushal’s Sukhi that tugs at your heartstrings. His helplessness will render emotion in one and all. Like all Rajkumar Hirani movies, the side characters had their tales and were used well.

The songs were however soul stirring with beautiful lyrics.

But was it all shine and glory? Not exactly. The movie was a missed opportunity in many places. With too many issues wrapped into one movie, it couldn’t dwell on one emotion for long and seemed uncooked in many situations. Rajkumar Hirani could not recreate any scenes that would be classic akin to a 3 Idiots or a Munnabhai. Boman Irani felt out of place as the teacher Gulati, it was not another ‘Virus’, to be sure.


If you are one of those moviegoers who are tired of machismo overflowing the theatres, this would be a pleasant detoxification. In the world raging with “alpha males,” this movie brings back the “green flags” who fall in love and yearn for true love.

A Movie Worth Your Weekend (and Maybe a Tissue)


Dunki doesn’t rely solely on SRK’s star status, as almost all his other films do. He was great and not over the top like Jawan/Pathaan. The most endearing part was when he played his older self as it was more genuine to his age (slight Veer Zaara vibes).

Tapsee is the one who stole the limelight for me, she was remarkable and I’m a fan from now on. She’s one of the top female actors in India today. Vicky had limited screen time, and he shone bright like a star even in that. Boman’s act was nothing to write home about, he’s a teacher here and I couldn’t help but compare him with the stellar Dr. Asthana.

This film was special for me because it’s the first Indian production to be shot in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia! As someone living here, I was excited to see familiar places in Jeddah, AlUla etc. Let me tell you that they coolly passed off Jeddah as Dubai with the aid of some VFX. As Upamanyu says, “Inko kya hee pataa chalega?”

The first half captivates the audience with its incredible showcase of comedy, while the second half delivers a compelling narrative with lots of unexpected twists & turns. The music is forgettable. I didn’t even hum ‘Lutt Putt’ once I walked outta the theatre.

The subject matter of illegal immigration & the dream of a better life abroad is riveting and an eye-opener for most of us. The facts shared in the end credits broke my heart. Indeed we’re so blessed and I feel eternally grateful.


I enjoyed it, though I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece. It isn’t in the same league as Raju’s other magnificent outings such as Three Idiots or Munnabhai. But it was brilliant in parts, it imbibed many genres – drama, comedy, suspense, romance and had an overall feel-good factor.

It’s a perfect wholesome movie for a weekend out with the family. But won’t be remembered in future as a game changer. In this age of super violent, larger-than-life and often trashy cinema, watch it to experience a roller coaster ride of emotions with an outstanding director at the helm.


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