You have a solid star and a solid dialogue that goes – “hum shareef kya hue…puri duniya hi badmaash ban gayi” but Shetty won’t let the line and moment breathe. He’ll cut the whole thing between Shah Rukh Khan and shots of action (read more cars reaching out to the sky) from his past. Or maybe it is Shah Rukh Khan reflecting on his early career against what he is doing now. At one point, Khan was the most experimental actor in the mainstream, admittedly before the time of “The Three Khans”. He was fearless in taking on negative lead roles or acting in middling features of the mid 90s Ketan Mehta. The Yashraj revolution happened and he became a legitimate star. But even in that phase it was Shah Rukh Khan, way before anyone else at that level of stardom, who took on Dil se, Hey Ram or even a Paheli later. But now that Bollywood is more diverse and many of the top stars are getting and experimenting with roles and themes, Shah Rukh Khan is content with a Chennai Express and a Happy New Year every year. On the same note, comes Dilwale. Maybe this line refers to his own career, him reflecting on his failed efforts that had come before their time and how today he is suddenly at home with the likes of Shetty.
Time flies like an arrow. Cars fly like a Rohit Shetty film. I wish that first line was true when watching a film directed by Shetty. Nothing moves in his films. It doesn’t matter if you walked in before opening credits or 20 minutes later. Shetty puts together a set of gags one following the other. And they are all school skit level gags. Hero sees a girl, wants to give her a lift. To drive his friend away he taps into his friend’s psychosomatic abilities to take a piss. A song follows soon that can tap into your psychosomatic abilities to take a piss. Or a smoke. Or even a dump because let’s give Shetty some company here.
The following is a list of talents Rohit Shetty possesses – to blow up cars and make them tumble down the road one after the other, the admirable belief that Johnny Lever is somehow not only talented but also relevant, to make you hate Boman Irani, to make you hate Sanjay Mishra, to write the most boring and trite lines for one of the greatest on screen pairs reducing them to a parody, to make his actors think they are in a long distance call in the 80s which makes them not say their dialogues but yell them out. Dilwale is Rohit Shetty misappropriating a genre created by the Chopras and inherited by Karan Johar.
(An edited version of this was published in The New Indian Express)