Dolly Ki Doli

At a crisp 100 minutes, Dolly Ki Doli is likely shorter than your average Indian wedding, which, as it happens, is the setting for much of this film’s drama and comedy.

Sonam Kapoor plays Dolly, a seasoned con artist who ensnares eligible young men in her love, then proceeds to marry them, before drugging them on the wedding night and taking off with their wealth. She’s part of a slick gang that poses as her family and helps pull off these elaborate jobs.

Dolly leaves in her wake dozens of heartbroken and humiliated victims, one of which, Sonu Shekhwat (Rajkummar Rao), a sugarcane farmer from Haryana, is determined to bring her to task. Eventually the police swing into action too, assigning the case to a young officer, Robin Singh (Pulkit Samrat), who, as we later discover, has his own reasons to track down Dolly.

It’s an interesting premise and director Abhishek Dogra keeps things light and brisk, mining the film’s highly improbable scenarios for easy laughs. Rajkummar Rao is the scene-stealer here, eschewing the scenery with his delicious turn as the coarse Jat who’s hiding a soft heart. More laughs are provided by Fukrey’s Varun Sharma as Manjot Singh, a buffoonish Dilliwala who can’t believe his luck when a girl as pretty as Dolly shows interest in him. There’s also Archana Puran Singh who brings the house down while sportingly hamming it up as the loud, shrieking Punjabi mother of one of Dolly’s hapless grooms.

Too bad the script reveals gaping holes as it unfolds, never adequately satisfying us with its explanation as to why her grooms fail to produce any pictures of Dolly and her ‘family’ in this age of camera phones and selfies. I wasn’t convinced either that Dolly or her gang performs these cons for financial gain; we never get the sense that it’s the money that drives them. Her motivation to cheat families – justified in the end by giving it an ‘emancipation of women’ spin – is unconvincing and laughable to say the least. An intriguing subplot involving Raanjhana’s Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, who plays Dolly’s fake brother and has romantic feelings for her, is never fully explored or properly resolved. The climax too, feels hurried, convenient and entirely contrived.

And yet, despite these shortcomings, I will admit, I enjoyed the film. Dogra gives us endearing characters, although Dolly herself is the weakest written role, and as a result Sonam Kapoor has little to work with. She does a good job, however, of convincing you that many men could lose themselves to her charm. From bit players like the fake granny who exploits her single dialogue for repeated laughs, to Sonu’s overbearing father, and Manjot’s henpecked dad, these are terrific supporting roles played out by a great cast including Rajesh Sharma, Manoj Joshi and Brijendra Kala among others. The one false note is Pulkit Samrat whose performance amounts strictly to posturing; he swaggers into every frame as if channeling Salman Khan, but has little presence or charm.

Never overstaying its welcome, the film is short and a lot of fun. I’m going with three out of five for Dolly Ki Doli. It’s worth watching for Rajkummar Rao’s excellent performance alone.

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