Soulless Dilwale lets SRK-Kajol pair down
In showbiz, nostalgia is a powerful emotion indeed. It can propel even mediocre cinematic products to enviable heights of success.
It is, therefore, understandable why Dilwale has been such a keenly anticipated Bollywood release. Does the film meet the expectations? Not quite.
Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, back together on the big screen for the first time since 2010's My Name is Khan, are in their elements all the way through. But, sadly, Rohit Shetty's Dilwale is such a run-of-the-mill film that even the SRK-Kajol combo cannot lift it out of its morass.
It has two distinct strands both in terms of its starcast and with respect to its storyline. Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon as the younger romantic pair simply cannot keep pace with the tried-and-tested star duo.
It is no wonder, therefore, that the second part of the film, which unfolds 15 years after the first encounter between the characters played by SRK and Kajol, pales completely in comparison with the first. The film, as a result, is both lopsided and uneven. When it reveals the back story of the affable Raj (Shah Rukh Khan), a car modifier who now lives in Goa and dotes on his kid brother Veer (Varun Dhawan).
The elder sibling is so indulgent that Veer gets away with taking a lot of liberties. But when he falls in love, it becomes a case of history repeating itself. He and his girlfriend run into resistance from quarters they have no control over exactly as his brother had done a decade and a half ago in Bulgaria.
This story of warring guardians and heartbreaks is less about affection than about hate and abhorrence, two emotions that come in the way of love. The director, in his signature style, throws in a few big action sequences in which cars are blown up and bodies are riddled with bullets and also falls back on some comic scenes for relief.
The humour in the film is coarse, but with actors like Boman Irani (as the drug-dealing mafia don King), Varun Sharma (as the younger hero's best friend) and Sanjay Mishra (as a funky seller of stolen cars and auto parts), a few of the gags do work.
But the love story is too contrived and convoluted to be effective. If one still keeps watching right until the end, it is solely because of Kajol, playing a tough woman caught between her duty to her gangster dad and her feelings for the son of the head of the rival criminal syndicate. Once the mystery unravels and the drama boils down to figuring out how and where the two estranged lovers will reunite, Dilwale loses steam completely.
Dilwale is strictly for Shah Rukh Khan fans and for those that miss the brilliance of Kajol. In a role tailor-made for her, the latter is brightest spot in the film even when scenes written for her do not do justice. PTI