Dunki Movie 2023 Review

Dunki Movie 2023 Review

In the early moments of Dunki, a simple yet heartwarming portrayal of impoverished illegal immigrants from Punjab embarking on perilous journeys in search of better opportunities, a group of hopeful individuals discovers a method to pass an English test. They memorize a paragraph and plan to repeat it to the examiners, merely changing the topic's name.

Unintentionally, the lengthy scene with diminishing returns becomes a metaphor for the uniformity present in Rajkumar Hirani's storytelling. Throughout the years, he has captivated audiences with nearly identical story structures, infusing each with a pulsating heart and a cheerful demeanor.

In Dunki, Hirani's much-anticipated collaboration with Shah Rukh Khan, the admirable social concern remains, but the storytelling becomes facile and labored over time. This is largely due to Hirani's reluctance to explore new ways of conveying his message. The spontaneity typically associated with his work is regrettably absent.

Set in a small Punjab town, Dunki delves into the past to recount the tale of four modest characters aspiring to immigrate to London for a better life. When on the brink of giving up, Hardy (Shah Rukh), a former army man, enters their lives, offering to fulfill their dream through a circuitous, illegal route. Along the journey, he develops affection for Manu (Taapsee Pannu), only to realize that her desire to cross borders surpasses her love for the man who instilled belief in her.


  • Director: Rajkumar Hirani 
  • Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Vikram Kochhar, Anil Grover, Vicky Kaushal, Boman Irani 
  • Run-time: 161 minutes 
  • Synopsis: Hardy and his friends brave peril to enter England through an illegal route.
Dunki Movie 2023 Review

Plot Summary

While the theme of illegal immigration may be relatively new for Hindi cinema, Punjabi films and news accounts abound with firsthand experiences of the perilous journeys undertaken by these so-called 'donkeys.' 

Consequently, when the film presents these challenges as novel, it lacks impact. The depiction feels tepid, and viewers may yearn for more nuance and poignancy, especially when end credits overlay facts and figures on heart-wrenching images of illegal immigrants.

Hirani consistently prioritizes emotional logic over conventional logic and effectively employs situational humor. However, in Dunki, while emotional swells occasionally captivate, the narrative's seamless unpredictability, a hallmark of Hirani and Abhijat Joshi’s writing, is notably absent. 

Moreover, the lighthearted first half features repetitive jokes about English and Englishmen, with some, like those related to the national anthem, falling flat. Perhaps, choosing England over the US and Canada for its colonial connection seems questionable, given the current newsworthiness and relatability of illegal immigration to the latter.

Dunki Movie 2023 Review

That said, Hirani's focus on how immigration policies disadvantage the poor resonates, and his ability to integrate social commentary into the screenplay is evident. Commentary on the trouser-wearing mother sheds light on deep-seated patriarchy in rural India. As the dust settles, the film's trajectory becomes predictable, with a sagging middle portion. 

However, the second half gains momentum, moving beyond comedic set pieces to convey the larger message behind illegal migration. Despite a couple of powerful scenes, the writers seem to strain to bring the film to a satisfying conclusion. 

The musical backdrop, particularly the combination of Javed Akhtar and Sonu Nigam in 'Nikle The Kabhi Hum Ghar Se' and Varun Grover and Javed Ali's chemistry in 'Chal Ve Vatna,' evokes strong emotions.

Shah Rukh immerses himself in Hirani's universe, delivering a potent socio-political statement in a courtroom sequence. However, the love story between Hardy and Manu lacks the magic needed to justify a 25-year wait. The supporting cast, particularly Vicky Kaushal, solidifies the film, but Boman Irani remains underutilized.

In summary, Dunki may not be Hirani's best work, but it possesses enough moments to elicit laughter and contemplation.

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