Director: Rohit Shetty
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon
The Rohit Shetty brand of filmmaking is infused with a certain comic panache. The Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) brand of filmmaking is built around the lovable romantic hero. The collision of these two worlds can create an endearing tale, as in 2013's Chennai Express, or it can create a dud – sadly evident in Dilwale.
The film, featuring the much-vaunted on-screen reunion of SRK and Kajol after a five-year gap – they were last seen together in 2010's My Name Is Khan – flatters to deceive on most counts.
They play star-crossed lovers Raj, also known as Kaali, and Meera, the heirs apparent to rival Indian mafia gangs in Bulgaria. Their brief romance flourishes amid flying bullets and exploding cars, as the couple are engulfed in a game of one-upmanship in a gangland turf war.
However, their romance seems to lack the chemistry that once made the SRK-Kajol pairing one of the most sought after. Although Dilwale does boast a few scenes where the pair shine brightly – such as when Kaali takes Meera on a five-minute date, with dinner and music – such moments are few and far between. Overall, they deliver an average romantic performance.
As the plot develops, a misunderstanding between Kaali and Meera leads to an abrupt break-up. A 15-year time jump then moves the story to India, where Veer (Varun Dhawan) and Ishita (Kriti Sanon) – the younger siblings of the now law-abiding Raj and Meera – fall in love. The younger couple’s performance, too, leaves much to be desired, with their courtship seeming wooden and forced.
The glue holding the two parts of the story together is Khan, essaying twin roles – first as suave mafia don Kaali and then as car mechanic Raj – with the narrative slipping in and out of flashbacks. He portrays the two sides of his character with ease, and is equally convincing as both.
When Veer and Ishita look for their siblings’ approval for their relationship, the older pair’s tumultuous past is, of course, a stumbling block. From then on, the plot follows an extremely predictable tone of denial, emotional drama and corny patch-up attempts.
So insipid is Dilwale's screenplay, and the outcome so inevitable, that there is nothing really to engage the audience, especially in the second-half.
The one thing that film makes a real effort with is comedy, with Shetty filling the screen with veteran stars including Boman Irani (playing an underworld don), Johnny Lever (as a small-time thief) and Sanjay Mishra (as a dealer in stolen goods).
However, with half-baked characters and limited screen time, none of them make a lasting impression.
The music is a big plus, with Pritam's compositions already chart-toppers, especially the romantic Gerua sung by Arijit Singh. Choreographed by Farah Khan, the song is shot brilliantly, and is delightful viewing.
Overall though, Dilwale offers little to viewers, except perhaps nostalgia for the SRK and Kajol pairings of old.