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quick review:

Geopolitics: minus101. Rajkumar Hirani never got back to the Munnabhai-Circuit level of discourse. This, though, is another level of simplification. It is boring. So, what if the actors perform? All other than the leads, that is. Those two, ham.

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Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Running time: 160 minutes
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Why does a Rajkumar Hirani film have to take a David-Dhawan-Priyadarshan route to get to the point? Where has the story-telling disappeared? It is almost like Hirani didn’t have faith in his subject or in his capacity to engage the audience with the topic. The meandering path to the start of the actual ‘dunki’—the illegal route that migrants take—is so long that there is little time left to empathise with the actual plight and inhuman situation that migrants exist in.

It made me miss SRK’s self-referential jokes and the wide-arm stretch. And that is not a compliment.

Sure, Hirani’s forte has been to convey a message with a light-hearted spirit. But, I guess here the material is so dark, that he lost perspective on the cheeriness and didn’t know where to stop with it. Both the quality and quantity of the humour didn’t seem like it was under his control, right from the beginning.

This left a lot of room for Shah Rukh Khan to ham. And Tapsee Pannu followed suit, like she had no other option. You could see every bit of the effort that they had put into their act. And that never translates well to the viewer. Both look great. 58-year-old Khan even passes off as a 30-year-old. Looks-wise, he is even believable as the love interest of a 20-year younger Pannu. But his act took me back to the 90s. And no, that is not a good thing. Dunki also has them play their characters’ older selves. And those bits, which is about 40% of the film, are quite unbearable. I can’t believe I am writing this, but it made me miss SRK’s self-referential jokes and the wide-arm stretch. That is not a compliment. And yet, even that is better than the show put together here.

And this is despite a decent show by the rest of the supporting cast. Even if, when I say decent, for Boman Irani, I might just mean, “at least he was not louder-than-normal”. Vicky Kaushal’s special appearance stood out because it seemed the most restrained, even though it felt like over-acting too.

It is sad that a ‘why borders’ argument, such an important message, got such a lame film. Maybe the point would have been made better if it started coming through a lot earlier in the film. But, that we will never know. A run time of over 2.5 hours. Half of which is the set-up. Which in turn is littered with very bad and long-drawn-out jokes. Of course, you are moved by the horrific conditions humans are put through. But Dunki seems like a disservice to them.

- meeta, a part of the audience

34 reviewers(?) - 9 yays 13 so-so 12 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...Dunki is a light-hearted film on how need forces people to seek employment overseas often at great peril. The movie has love and longing in equal measure. Most importantly, Raju Hirani successfully brings out Shah Rukh Khan's image as a romantic hero in a relevant emotional film. Dunki is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit of put life at risk for that impossible dream.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shreyas Pande, Deccan Herald : ...All in all, Dunki is thoughtfully, cheerful, brilliantly acted, and has the most powerful music of the year. The songs manage to reignite the lost sense of poetry. Vicky Kaushal gets the least screen time for his guest appearance but makes you feel t... Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/entertainment/dunki-movie-review-hirani-khan-deliver-a-cheerful-experience-2821925... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Rajkumar Hirani had made a film which envisions a world beyond borders for all. Which states that borders, in effect, exist only for the poor. He's saying much without being preachy, as is his wont. Watch the film for its message and for the superb acting display by both Taapsee Pannu, Shah Rukh Khan and the entire ensemble cast.... full review

Thumbs up, by Monika Rawal Kukreja, Hindustan Times : ...Overall, Dunki is a film that leaves you with a tearful smile. And if you couldn't watch Animal with your families for the glorified violence, you must check out Dunki for it's an absolute family entertainer and will be an emotional riot.... full review

Thumbs up, by Tushar P. Joshi, india today : ...Dunki might not be Hirani’s best work in comparison to 3 Idiots or PK, but it still entertains and leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling as you leave the theatre. Also, what better way to end the year than to have SRK charm you on the silver screen once again?... full review

Thumbs up, by Sakshi Verma, India TV : ...Overall, Dunki is a fine watch movie with a lower repeat value. Rajkumar Hirani is back on silver screens after five years and does not disappoint you, this time too. Shah Rukh Khan-Taapsee Pannu's film can be a good end for 2023.... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...One of the three has to literally break the bank to fund his aspiration, another has to learn the rudiments of wrestling to apply for a visa in the sports category and all of them have to enrol in a spoken English academy run by Geetu Gulati (Boman Irani), who claims that a passage to England would be "a piece of cake".... full review

Thumbs up, by Rishil Jogani, Pinkvilla : ...Rajkumar Hirani has created an impeccable fusion of his cinema and Shah Rukh Khan's. The result is Dunki, a film that has the ability to stand the test of time and be regarded as a modern-day classic.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sreeparna Sengupta,, Times of India : ...Overall, 'Dunki' is a wholesome entertainer that's rousing, relevant, romantic and about returning to your roots.... full review

So-So, by Bobby sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...No doubt here we have a clean, family-friendly movie in the era of dark, action-oriented cinema.But wish Hirani had made DUNKI as at least an appreciable film spreading a strong massage among the youngsters to stop thinking about going through these Donkey routes.... full review

So-So, by Abhimanyu Mathur, DNA : ...But overall, the tone of Dunki remains subdued. It never grabs you like some of Hirani’s previous work as. It never gets dull bet not fully engaging either. Dunki remains in limbo for much of its first half, taking time to build the story up, jumping out at in you a few places but content otherwise.... full review

So-So, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...The writing isn’t great to begin with, but it’s hard to look past the superstar trapped in the character. Hirani, as a director, has a track record of camouflaging the pop-cultural face with a satirical facade. But Dunki is probably his weakest film, because there’s at once too much of Hirani, and not enough of him.... full review

So-So, by Murtuza, Filmi Beat : ...Overall, Dunki is not a bad film. But, if Rajkumar Hirani is teaming up with Shah Rukh Khan everyone will expect the movie to be wow, and that's not the case here. It's a decent film that you can watch it once with your family.... full review

So-So, by Lachmi Deb Roy, FirstPost : ...I feel the film starts picking up in the second half. Dunki has a good message and it is a good way to wrap up the year with a film which makes you feel good, but it is definitely not Hirani’s best work especially when he has given us masterpieces like 3 Idiots and PK. And may be our expectations were too high, keeping in mind that it is our 58-year-old Jawan‘s movie. But the best thing is that there is no ugly display of masculinity.... full review

So-So, by Rohit Bhatnagar, Free Press Journal : ...Dunki is not an extraordinary or exceptional film from Raju’s mindfulness but Shah Rukh’s power play as an experienced might save the film.... full review

So-So, by Sai Tulasi Neppali, fullhyd.com : ...So much of Dunki's story gets spoiled by silly little twists and shockers that ultimately are unnecessary and even detrimental to the film. This may be one of Rajkumar Hirani's weakest films.... full review

So-So, by Baradwaj Rangan, galatta.com : ...I walked out with this question: Why does this happen whenever Shah Rukh Khan collaborates with a director with a huge reputation and a unique signature? First it was Imtiaz Ali and Jab Harry Met Sejal, now it’s Rajkumar Hirani and Dunki… On paper, these films have roles that sound perfect for Shah Rukh, and yet, the finished products are far from satisfying..... full review

So-So, by lekha Menon, Khaleej Times : ...Overall, Dunki is a good watch although with the talent associated, it should have been a great watch. In a strife-torn world, a message of kindness and empathy is much-needed and that’s what Dunki is. Wish the execution was as good as the intention!... full review

So-So, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...Given expectations, I was also looking out for the Hirani-Joshi gentle gyans on life—’jaadu ki jhappi’ types. Liked that bit where, if you wanna break bad news to someone, fake the worst possible news first, so the bad feels not so terrible, after all! The only news for me to break here is stepping out of the cinema, I was feeling a tad bit better. That’s enough, frankly. Rest is just a lotta English!... full review

So-So, by Takshi Mehta, Outlook India : ...ring everything, Dunki makes for a decent one-time watch.... full review

So-So, by Taru B Masand, Times Now : ...In conclusion, Dunki is NOT a Shah Rukh Khan film but a Rajkumar Hirani film. At different points, the storyline captivates the audience but in the rest, it disappoints. Without a doubt, the casting of the film has been the best. When it comes to Shah Rukh and Taapsee's chemistry, it's average. Talking about Rajkumar Hirani's way of ending love stories, this was no different. The film is a one-time watch and it might leave you a bit disappointed if you are a hard-core Shah Rukh Khan fan.... full review

Thumbs down, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...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.... full review

Thumbs down, Deccan Chronicle : ...The bright spot in the movie is the cameo from Vicky Kaushal. He stands alone and sane. There is a song in the film that sums up the spirit of the audience: ‘Hum to loot phoot gaye.’... full review

Thumbs down, by Pratyush Parasuraman, Film Companion : ...Where do I begin?   Hirani’s films, like Hardy says in a moving stretch of dialogue, are textbook examples of fighting against “aasani se dushmani”. But at what point do you refuse to distinguish being simple from being simplistic?... full review

Thumbs down, by Nitin Jain, Glamsham.com : ...All in all, the expectations were sky high as it was a Raj Kumar Hirani film with none other than Shah Rukh Khan as lead. Unfortunately the spark from the combination fizzles out sooner than expected. The narrative fails to hold the attention and does not offer anything exciting to take back. There is a dearth of exciting dialogues or sequences or for that matter even drama or action that one could vouch for... full review

Thumbs down, by Proma Khosla, indiewire : ...In the end, “Dunki” undermines its own messaging, sandwiching a series of informative cards about donkey flights between a rushed conclusion and comedic coda. Hirani’s films are mostly marketed and memorialized as comedies, glossing over the violence and suicide as well as dramatic subject matter (a wider trend in Indian cinema — the reception of “Simmba” comes to mind). “Dunki” is far from the best film about its chosen topic, but with global reach comes great responsibility.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shalmesh More, koimoi : ...Shah Rukh Khan fits in with ease in Rajkumar Hirani’s canvas. His charm and style of humor suit well for Hardy’s character. Throughout the film, his presence seems effortless, but in a couple of scenes, he looks a bit unconvincing. In a court scene, he’s brilliant, though! Taapsee Pannu as Mannu is good, and her chemistry with Shah Rukh Khan looks breezy and natural. Vikram Kochhar, as Buggu, has also done his job well and makes you laugh whenever he’s on the screen. Vicky Kaushal, in a cameo, has done a superb job, and his character also serves as one of Dunki’s high points.... full review

Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...Dunki is a break from Khan the action star but offers no respite from the Khan the perfect screen idol. It’s not as if there’s anyone better-equipped in Hindi cinema to play a romantic feminist soldier patriot friend. But Khan is always more interesting with kinks. I’d like some grey in the soul to go with the hair.... full review

Thumbs down, by Narendra Seni, NDTV : ...पहले फर्स्ट हाफ में कॉमेडी है. लेकिन कहानी के नाम पर कुछ नही है. शाहरुख खान की डायलॉग डिलीवरी कमजोर देखने को मिली है. पहला हाफ इतना खास नहीं है, जो शाहरुख खान ने पठान और जवान से साल 2023 में अपनी पहचान बनाई. वह डंकी के कारण धुलती हुई नजर आ रही है. वहीं राजकुमार हिरानी ने अब तक की सबसे कमजोर फिल्म दी है. जो शाहरुख और राजकुमार हिरानी के फैन्स हैं, वह इस फिल्म को देख सकते हैं बाकी लोगों को फिल्म को देखने के लिए हिम्मत चाहिए होगी.... full review

Thumbs down, by Mayur Sanap, Rediff : ...There is so much that could have been better, but the silver lining here is SRK, who brings earnestness to his role in a very committed performance. The film can be watched at least once for his yet another magical screen outing this year.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...The strangely anodyne film is briefly enlivened by Khan’s dimpled charm and spirited turns by Taapsee Pannu, Vikram Kocchar and Anil Grover. The actors’ collective enthusiasm is a life-saver – their characters are so clueless that they might not survive a journey to Ludhiana, let alone London. For all his Army training, Hardy is a bit smarter, but only just.... full review

Thumbs down, by Pratikshya Mishra, The Quint : ...But Dunki is not the film for those stories. It leaves you feeling almost dissatisfied, thinking about what could’ve been. Before I shut down my laptop and step out to record my review, I want to leave you with this (consider this a recommendation maybe): For the entire runtime, images from Poher Rasmussen’s Flee kept returning to my mind in flashes. Even though it is told through the lens of a single refugee, Flee’s gaze remains both hopeful and disquieting throughout.... full review

Thumbs down, by POOJA BIRAIA JAISWAL, The Week : ...Dunki does take us into a deep dive of emotions via scenes that pull our heartstrings, but it does little to do the same throughout. Except for Vicky Kaushal's very strong special performance that lasts no more than a few minutes—he leaves a lasting impression on our minds of a man who is unable to get himself a visa to London and burns himself to death after his ladylove commits suicide there, after waiting in vain for him to bring her back to India. There are only a few such memorable scenes in the film that come straight for your heart.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Gun fights, death by suicide, self-immolation
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A potential rape. Allusion to and talk about lip kisses
  • Concept: The plight of immigration
  • General Look and Feel: Crisp, but par for the course.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Dunki - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Music Director:
Running time:
160 minutes

Comments (1)

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Dear Meetu, Thanks. I did not see the movie yet, but reading the review - which seems so apt - as per your sensibilities. I would wait for the OTT...

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