Mixed Bag of Reviews Greets Dunki, but SRK Admirers Buzz with Anticipation

Popular comic Sunil Pal was one of those who queued up for the first day-first early morning show.
By: PTI Updated: Dec 22, 2023 11:23 IST
Mixed Bag of Reviews Greets Dunki, but SRK Admirers Buzz with Anticipation

There were drumbeats and dancing, early morning queues and some confetti too as Shah Rukh Khan starrer “Dunki” opened on Thursday to tepid reviews from critics and much excitement from his fandom. “Dunki”, Shah Rukh's third film in the year after blockbuster hits “Pathaan” and “Jawan”, is directed by Rajkumar Hirani and the big question is whether it will be a box office hat-trick for the star.

That several critics were underwhelmed by the much-discussed film, described as a comedy drama centred on illegal immigration, and the frenzy didn't quite reach the fever pitch of Shah Rukh's earlier two releases didn't matter much to his die-hard fans.

There were early morning shows in several parts of the country, including Udaipur, Mumbai and Jammu. Fans were also seen garlanding and pouring milk on giant Shah Rukh cutouts in Kolkata while a group of fans in Guwahati cut a cake to celebrate the release of "Dunki".

At Mumbai's Gaiety Cinema, SRK Universe, touted as the biggest Shah Rukh fan club, planned the "first ever 5.55 am" screening. The time, said some fans, was carefully chosen – 555 is his lucky number and his car number ends with 0555.

That may or may not be true but it was enough for many of his fans, who danced to dhols and in the aisle as well. Popular comic Sunil Pal was one of those who queued up for the first day-first early morning show. The Hirani magic, he said, always hits differently.

"If the 'magician' Rajkumar Hirani and the 'Baazigar' Shah Rukh Khan are coming together for a film, the movie will make Rs 2,000 crore for sure. Rs 1,000 crore for Rajkumar Hirani and Rs 1,000 crore for Shah Rukh Khan," he said.

"Dunki" also stars Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal, Boman Irani, Vikram Kochhar and Anil Grover. The film also has competition in "Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire", a period action drama starring Prabhas and Prithviraj Sukumaran, which releases on Friday.

"Pathaan" and "Jawan" earned over Rs 1,000 crore each at the worldwide box office and are credited for pulling the struggling Hindi film exhibition sector out of the doldrums.

"This entire year was full of excitement. There was a pause in Bollywood before the release of 'Pathaan', then 'Jawan' came and now at the end of the year, there will be a blockbuster ending with 'Dunki," said Shahnawaz, a fan, before catching the first day first show at Gaiety.

A fan, who reached Bengaluru's Urvashi Theatre to watch "Dunki" for the morning show, said the film holds a special place in the hearts of SRK fans.

"We are going to make a hat-trick of SRK's movies. We will break all records with this movie. There is no competitor of Shah Rukh Khan and Shah Rukh Khan will only break all his records. As you know Shiva Rajkumar is the hat-trick hero of Karnataka and SRK is the hat-trick hero of India." "The josh is very high," said another fan, an SRK-lookalike. "Like we celebrate Diwali and other festivals, in the same way SRK movie release is a festival for all of us," he added.

Another said she had been waiting for "Dunki" since its announcement last year.

"All of us wanted SRK and Rajkumar Hirani to come together for a film. We have been excited from the time this movie was announced. After 'Pathaan' and 'Jawan', our excitement is through the roof for 'Dunki'." Fans in Jammu also braved the cold on Thursday morning and poured into theatres to watch the 6 am show in the city.

The members of a small SRK fan club came dressed up in T-shirts with "Dunki" printed on them.

Be it Shah Rukh's birthday or his film release, the craze is the same, said one of the members.

"With 'Munna Bhai MBBS', 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai', '3 Idiots', 'PK', and 'Sanju', Rajkumar Hirani is the only director who has given five back-to-back blockbuster movies. And now with 'Dunki', we have a lot of hopes. Plus, there is Shah Rukh and he is known as the superstar of Bollywood so he will make it work."

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