Dilwale should come with a public service announcement: despite the very reasonable fear that one may be blinded by the film’s radioactive colours, watching Dilwale on a big screen will not harm your eyesight. The lasting damage may well be upon your wallet, given the prices of tickets at multiplexes. Ironically, there’s a point when Dilwale tries to pull a Pyaar ka Punchnama by getting Varun Sharma to rant about how expensive it is for men to date women these days because even going to the movies means thousands of rupees spent. That should go down well with audiences in neighbourhoods like Mumbai’s Andheri and Juhu, where the morning show’s cheapest tickets at a multiplex are priced at Rs 350. Incidentally, most of those shows were virtually sold out by yesterday evening.
With two romantic pairings, a Shah Rukh-Kajol reunion and Rohit Shetty at the helm, Dilwale is a film that you’d think would be as much fun as a rollercoaster. Instead, it’s a boring bromance that is lacking in every department, from action choreography to screenplay, editing, production design and acting. Particularly if you’re a fan of the mix of comedy and adrenaline that Shetty has delivered in the past, then Dilwale is bound to disappoint because it lacks both suspense and drama. If you’re a cinephile and choose to spend money on Dilwale in the hope of being entertained, then for making such a senseless call, you deserve every second of the pain that you will suffer during Dilwale’s 155 minutes.
Once upon a time, in a Goa where the colours were so bright that everyone had to wear sunglasses, there lived two brothers. The younger one was a carefree idiot named Veer (Varun Dhawan) whose talents included reckless driving and being so awkward around women that he’d lie compulsively in their presence and convulse when a woman touched him. The love of his life was Ishita (Kriti Sanon) and her chief quality was her willingness to tolerate Veer nicknaming her “Issue”.
Veer had an elder brother, named Raj (Khan), who doted on him. The two of them ran a garage in Goa and “modified” cars (because god forbid our heroes in this age of gloss be regular mechanics who run a regular garage). As far as everyone in Goa knew, Raj was a meek, polite, no-violence man. But underneath that harmless exterior lurked a darker past, which involved him being a thug named Kali and a bullet-riddled romance with Mira (Kajol).
When Veer and Issue fell in love (because he did a terrible version of the “To me, you are perfect” scene with cue cards from Love Actually), the couple decided to tell their families that they’re dating. That’s when secrets (and cars) started tumbling. Veer found himself in a situation where he had to choose between his brother and his girlfriend.
What happened between Mira and Raj? Will Veer be able to accept his polite and non-violent brother’s hidden love for breaking bad guys’ bones? Will Raj and Mira’s love story have a happy ending? Was Mira’s real name ever Pogo? Why does love turn Raj gerua? Can Veer and Raj’s brotherly love survive the disruptions that the women bring into their lives? These are the main questions in what passes for a plot in Dilwale . The film has a deafening score that attempts to add suspense to the film, but it’s of no use. You know what’s going to happen and if there is a surprise, then it is that we see merely four cars defy aerodynamics in the process of crashing.
Watching Dhawan attempting to copy Khan’s acting style is painful.
Dilwale is very literally a bromance and this is a critical problem because Dhawan and Khan make for an unbearable couple. Watching Dhawan attempting to copy Khan’s acting style is painful and you’d never believe this is the same actor from Badlapur. Not only does Dhawan sorely lack Khan’s distinctive charisma, there’s so much hamming in Dhawan’s performance that he may as well have added an “oink” at the end of each dialogue. Next to him, even Johnny Lever’s over-the-top antics seem normal.
The film’s few amusing moments are peppered with gags you’ve heard in conversation or read in forwarded messages, like the observation that Mukesh Tiwari is “gareebon ka Jackie Shroff”. It’s telling that Dilwale’s minor characters, like the ever-hilarious Pankaj Tripathi and Kabir Bedi’s surgically enhanced face, are the ones that stay with you once you’ve left the film. Shetty can take credit for taking gifted actors like Sanjay Mishra and Boman Irani and turning them into distasteful caricatures.
Khan is the star of Dilwale and he can still hold the audience’s attention, but his role is bland and boring. The Raj/Kaali character lacks the menacing darkness that caught our attention in films like Baazigar, Anjaam and Karan Arjun. Despite the ballads in the film, Dilwale also doesn’t let Khan be the unabashed romantic hero that cemented his superstardom. Khan’s scenes with Kajol are at best sweet and at worst, insipid reminders of the duo’s previous on-screen outings.
Of the women in Dilwale , only Kajol has a role worth mentioning. It isn’t a well-written role, but it has more nuances than Khan’s. Unfortunately, Kajol makes more of an impression with her dramatically changed complexion and less with her acting. Dilwale will make you remember old films in which she tackled disturbed and disturbing heroines with crackling intensity. In contrast, her Mira is unsatisfying.
Admittedly, the film’s screenplay doesn’t help. Shetty has always worked with clichés, but in films like Singham and Chennai Express, he managed to add enough spectacle to make the familiar plots seem worth revisiting. Although he does add a few twists, Dilwale is mostly a collection of classic tropes, including the problem of being an adopted child and the gangster with a heart of gold. Tables break, bottles are smashed on bad guys’ heads, bones crunch, Khan is suspended mid-air while thrashing henchmen, the sequence with two spinning cars from Mission: Impossible 2 is replicated at one point — it’s all quite standard.
Film lovers have no expectations of Shetty, but surely fans expect more from this director of blockbusters?