Two decades ago, Shah Rukh Khan fell in love with Kajol in a European country, and eventually got her after a lot hassle, even involving guns, which he blithely shrugged off by stuttering the immortal big-city small-things dialogue. Watch Shah Rukh Khan do exactly the same thing all over again in Dilwale, except replace the plot in-between with every Bollywood cliché you can think of.
There are two heroes and two heroines; everyone else is a comedian. Shah Rukh Khan plays the adopted elder brother who loves his younger brother to bits. Obviously the younger brother, Varun Dhawan, doesn’t know that his bhaiyya is adopted until the critical moment. Both the heroines, Kajol and Kriti Sanon, are the villain’s daughters. Then there are your caricature henchmen who unquestioningly follow their leaders to the end of the world – which turns out to be Goa, Rohit Shetty’s own cliché.
Cars drift into the frame; the heroes punch baddies out of the frame; there’s drama, there’s action, there’s comedy, there’s a flashback, there’s a plot twist… Basically, all the tried and tested ingredients to make a moolah-churning instrument have been inserted.
The only novelty is the casting. If there’s one thing that can save this movie, it’s the leading pair of SRK & Kajol. Replace them with any other pair and no-one would give a second glance to Dilwale. When SRK brandishes his romantic charm, the audience falls in love with him once again.
The dialogues are new but the eyes are just the same – lovingly reflecting Kajol in them. For her part, Kajol is absolute perfection in every single frame. I am always awestruck by how she can portray every emotion a character could go through, no matter how unconvincing it is in script. Her most mesmerizing bit is when she is oh-so-stylishly walking towards the camera when there’s a twist in the plot. She doesn’t need words to express herself, her demeanor and her gaze are enough.
Sadly, the entirety of the movie is an unconvincing hotchpotch of scattered tracks and puerile jokes. The overall plot is a puerile joke in itself, in Rohit Shetty’s taste. From one perspective, Dilwale mixes up the plots of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham – it’s up to the younger brother and his love interest to get SRK and Kajol to fall in love with each other again after several years of estrangement. SRK takes Kajol out on a five-minute date that’s been elongated from the two-minute date in How I Met Your Mother. Although it doesn’t disappoint, I was slightly let down by the fact that it was unoriginal.
Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon’s love story crumbles to clichés. From the romantic cue cards of love to floating lanterns, it’s hard to find anything original or endearing. Everything else about the plot has already been washed out and hung dry in the sun for twenty years.
Funnily enough, it’s the comedians who make a more lasting impression than the plot. Boman Irani plays the comedic villain, to perfection, if I might add. He sports a pencil moustache, a soul patch, a fedora, walks with a cane and speaks in a polished accent that will remind you of villains in cartoons. However, Johnny Level is undoubtedly the show-stealer!
For once, Boman Irani falls short of someone else in the same frame. Although Johnny Lever speaks in the stereotyped South Indian accent (as if it exists), his antics transport you to a time when he was the most popular choice for the role of comedian in every movie. His facial expressions and his body language overtake the movie itself.
In the end, you realize that Dilwale is just an excuse to cast SRK and Kajol in the same frame. Their celebrated Bollywood romance of two decades is perfectly represented by the animated extravaganza that is the song Gerua.
The stunning visuals don’t fail to captivate but Shetty goes overboard while showcasing SRK & Kajol dancing on a lush green hill beside a stunning waterfall with a rainbow spread across. You know that’s too good to be true, but it’s exactly what the movie intends to bank on – the wish-fulfillment scenarios for the fans.