It’s very hard to describe Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale as anything other than a mixed cuisine buffet, given that it tries to offer a little bit of everything to please just about everyone. You want comedy? Come on over, we’ve got Johnny Lever, Sanjay Mishra, Boman Irani, and Varun Sharma. You want action? We’ve got fists flying, guns blazing, cars flipping. Romance, did you say? Step right in; we’ve got Bollywood’s favorite 90s pair thawing the bergs in Iceland with their combustible chemistry. And if you like your stars younger, we’ll throw in two up-and-coming heartthrobs to make your day. For what it’s worth, the film even has that most elusive, rarest-of-rare secret weapons – it’s got a story, I kid you not.
With so much going for it, it would take a special kind of talent to still come up short. But Dilwale, with all its bells and whistles, is far from a sure thing.
Veer (Varun Dhawan) meets Ishita (Kriti Sanon); the two quickly fall in love and become desperate to get married. But there’s a hitch. Veer’s elder brother Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) is hiding a dark secret. He was once a gangster in Bulgaria who went by the name Kaali. Turns out he has a history with Ishita’s sister Meera (Kajol), and let’s just say it isn’t pretty.
Buried somewhere beneath those juvenile comic tracks – involving Johnny Lever as a petty thief, Sanjay Mishra as a stolen car-parts salesman, and Boman Irani as a local don searching his missing drugs – there’s at least one good twist, and a few charming moments between Shah Rukh and Kajol who still manage to light up the screen. Varun Dhawan flexes every facial muscle to embrace the film’s hammy humor, but redeems himself in a nice emotional exchange with Shah Rukh in the film’s last act.
The real problem with Dilwale is the sheer artificiality of the enterprise. From the rainbow-hued sets and the touched-up landscapes in the Gerua song, to many moments of comedic and emotional payoff, so much of it just feels fake.
Doesn’t help either that the film clocks in at a butt-numbing 155 minutes. I got up to leave at three different points that I imagined were the climax, only to discover that there was still more to come. Never a good sign when you’re looking at your watch instead of the screen.
I’m going with two out of five for Dilwale.