Warning – spoilers ahead…
Rohit Shetty’s latest blockbuster, Dilwale, has a lot to do with mechanics. For starters our heroes, Shahrukh and Varun, are literally mechanics in the film. They own a garage and like their director, they specialize in modifying originals and pimping them out to an unrecognizable degree.
Make no mistake this film was clearly intended to be a sum of many parts. A patchwork of scenes, each individually desgined to evoke various reactions ranging from seetis to screams, from taalis to tears. However something didn’t quite come together on this assembly line. So while the film has a few outstanding moments, it doesn’t cohesively, or coherently, make for an outstanding film.
There’s a particular scene where it’s revealed that there is more than meets the eye to Kajol’s charcter. In an intriguingly devious plot twist she reveals she led on and set up her leading man, leaving him in the wake of her deception. This moment could have set up a deep and dark thriller the likes of which we have not witnessed from the evergreen romantic pair since the Baazigaar days. But alas just a few scenes later all the intrigue is swiftly set aside when Shahrukh opts to prove that the power of love can overcome obstacles as sinister as, say attempted murder and things of that nature.
It’s perplexing why Rohit Shetty opted to change gears so abruptly after such an interesting set up. But wait, there’s another twist. And then another. Before you know it the story becomes more twisted and mangled than one of the many stunt cars rolling wrecklessly after being blown literally up.
Perhaps his dilemma was in which classic to modify, and what shiny new aftermarket parts he could throw on.
There are parts of Hum, parts of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, even of Kabhi Kabhie. And of course elements of DDLJ. Did I mention Baazigaar? All modified, souped up and rigged together to build a monster truck of a film that is not meant to be a smooth ride but more of a thrilling, bone crushing experience. It certainly seemed that was the intention and Rohit Shetty may have succeeded, as I for one left the theatre feeling like I had just survived a serious car crash.
The performances, like most everything in the film, are earnest yet inconsistent. As noted there are some outstanding moments, like the big reveal and subsequent confrontation between Shahrukh and Kajol, or the heartfelt brothers over lovers scene between a sincere Varun Dhawan and a genuine Shahrukh Khan. But then there are many more moments in between which are so over the top there’s no scope for subtle, nuanced performance. The cast were forced to ham, hem and haw, while the audiences where forced.to sit and watch, and cringe and moan.
The least experienced actor of the lot, Kriti Sanon, comes off as the most even kiel character in the entire ensemble cast. Perhaps it was to her advantage not to have an image or 2 to live up to.
As for Varun Dhawan, one wishes his father had been in the directors seat, for at least in Main Tera Hero his character was consistent, enabling him to channel that manic energy and crazy charisma towards a certified comic caper. Here he is silly one scene, serious the next and melodramatic thereafter. A good test of his range I suppose, especially when forced to go over the top and redline.
Shahrukh and Kajol are positioned to relive seemingly every chapter of their storied 22 year affiliation. At one point I was expecting him to die only to be reincarnated, ala Karan Arjun. If only I was kidding.
Oh what could have been with this starcast, this budget, even to an extent this story, had Rohit Shetty opted to.remain focussed on one uniform film and not a collection of scenes. But this is what happens when you build something entirely out of spare parts.