"Dunki," is a Hindi-language comedy-drama, delves into the intriguing world of donkey flights, an unconventional method used in illegal immigration. Directed and edited by the acclaimed Rajkumar Hirani, this film is brought to life under the banner of Red Chillies Entertainment and Jio Studios, promising an engaging narrative.

General Rating

In a nut-shell:


Dunki Star Cast/ Actors: Shah Rukh Khan as Hardayal (Hardy) Singh Dhillon, Taapsee Pannu as Manu, Vicky Kaushal as Sukhi, Boman Irani as Gulati, Vikram Kocchar as Buggu Lakhanpal and Anil Grover as Balli.

Dunki Release Date: December 21st, 2023

Dunki Available On: Theatrical Release and (likely to be released on Jio Cinema Platform)

Dunki Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi

Dunki Runtime: 161 Minutes

Dunki Critic Review:

Is Dunki really edited, written and directed by Rajkumar Hirani? THE Rajkumar Hirani whose unique filmmaking ability was to wrap a warm social message with non-stop entertainment? This question arises because the dull tale of illegal immigrants is neither fun nor succeeds in making a logical social comment.

When the word ‘logical’ comes up, a look at the writing credits raises suspicion. Raju and regular co-writer Abhijaat Joshi have in the past collaborated to deliver the complete box-office package from Lage Raho Munna Bhai(2006),3 Idiots (2009) and PK (2014) to Sanju(2018). All bumper hits. When Raju and Abhijaat bring Kanika Dhillon, a writer known for disconnected, illogical writing, into their team, there is speculation over the route Dunki will be taking.

The suspicion isn’t misplaced as Rajkumar Hirani’s sixth film is his weakest so far. All those #AskSRK sessions on X and social media interactions which substituted for good old press conferences, have already introduced the audience to Hardy (Shah Rukh Khan), Manu (Taapsee Pannu), Sukhi (Vicky Kaushal) and sundry other Punjabi-accented characters. Promos and promotional interviews (where SRK himself played interviewer to dispense with a traditional journalist) have also revealed that Dunki is about the illegal route used for the aspirational Punjabi whose dream destination is England.

Unfortunately, more than 160 minutes later, Hirani’s story doesn’t move an inch beyond what he’s already said in the promos. An entire first half is spent on the ensemble cast making patently weak attempts to master English and get a visa. Imagine, all the humour revolves around a bunch of Punjabis murdering the Queen’s bhasha along with English teacher Gulati (Boman Irani terribly ill-cast as the master who’s himself uncomfortable with the language).There’s a sequence where Manu describes how to make parathas in English – a recipe twisted for wit has been a tool for humour for decades. Aside from raising a forced laugh from one or two in the audience who’re dying to be entertained, it could put you off parathas too.

Okay, so Raju lost his sense of humour on the Dunki trail. But what about the thrill of a journey, strong emotional bonds and romance? Sadly, the illegal route via Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey is like a kindergarten adventure with not one heart-stopping moment.

Okay, so thrill is out. Emotional bonds and romance? The writing is so staccato that there are abrupt sequences that ultimately lead to no logical destination. And with no moments lavished on building chemistry between Hardy and Manu, the tug of the heart is simply not present. 

Ok, so no bonds, no romance. At least some strong social messaging? SRK’s monologue on illegal immigration and borders that stop only the poor, seems like he’s batting for Rohingyas and those landing in Europe by boat. Sorry guys, the argument is so full of holes and so unconvincing that it simply doesn’t work.

One last attempt at redemption. Are the performances scintillating? Is the music a chartbuster? Pritam’s Lutt putt gaya is the only one with an acceptable beat and a dance move that could catch on. But it’s placed awkwardly when there’s been no romantic moment thus far between Hardy and Manu to justify the lyrics. As for performances, sorry, Shah Rukh, this is back to the Zero days.

Dunki – Watch Or Not?: For a film that neither entertains nor strums the heart strings, a recommendation is tough. In 2007, Amitoj Mann made a flop called Kaafila on the same subject with Sunny Deol. Even that had a bit more thrill than Dunki

Dunki Review Score Rating: 2 out of 5

Dunki Official Trailer:

Dunki Official Trailer (Credit: Red Chillies Entertainment)

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