Director: Rohit Shetty
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon
In a landmark 1996 essay titled The Decay of Cinema, Susan Sontag lamented the state of cinema at the end of the century. She wrote that “commercial cinema has settled for a policy of bloated, derivative filmmaking, a brazen combinatory or recombinatory art in the hope of reproducing past successes.” Sontag clearly anticipated Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale.
Even in the context of Shetty’s oeuvre, Dilwale is a low. It made me nostalgic for Chennai Express. I didn’t go in expecting anything more than a good time. Because Rohit and leading man Shah Rukh Khan have clearly positioned Dilwale as a masala entertainer. Which means that we must not expect logic, coherence, characters or depth. I’ve made my peace with that. My grouse is that I didn’t even have fun. The highlight of the film was Sanjay Mishra calling Mukesh Tiwari ‘Gareebon ka Jackie Shroff’.
Through the film, characters keep saying ‘Kisi ko peeche mudkar dekhne ki zaroorat nahin hai’. But the film demands that we draw on all the nostalgia and affection we have for Shah Rukh and Kajol. They are both beautiful, compelling actors who are perfectly capable of recreating the magic of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. But Rohit and his screenplay writer Yunus Sajawal don’t bother to create a fresh narrative for them.
We begin on a mildly intriguing note, in Bulgaria, but the suspense is soon flattened out. There are references to Mission Impossible 2, Love Actually, How I Met Your Mother and, of course, DDLJ. Meanwhile, Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon work as bait, meant to bring in the critical youth segment. It is lazy writing designed to succeed. Even if it does, you have to ask — why are the most powerful names in the business content with doling out recycled mediocrity.