Cast: Saqib Saleem, Taapsee Pannu
Direction: Aleya Sen
‘Dil Junglee’ is a sketchy romantic comedy – a love story with credible lead actors, but a predictable plot that’s unlikely to tug at the heartstrings.
The director rushes us through a first half where it is difficult to gauge whether our hero and heroine are really in love or if it’s just a relationship of convenience. Post the intermission, the action moves to the United Kingdom, all the while cruising along an expected trajectory. There are no surprises, no twists, no fuzzy moments that you can carry home once you have left the theatre.
Dilli ka munda Sumit Uppal (Saqib Saleem), is an aspiring actor and also a star trainer at the local gym. Our hero from Lajpat Nagar is a typical Delhi boy who hopes that his washboard abs will ensure a rousing entry into Bollywood. All he needs are a few spoken English lessons and he would be Mumbai-ready, he thinks.
Karoli Nair (Taapsee Pannu), the daughter of a London-based business tycoon, abandons her business studies and comes to India hoping to publish her book. The book is not her priority, she believes in “true love”, wants to get married and have kids once she finds her prince charming. On the side, she teaches people English and comes across as needy, unambitious and a stupid romantic.
Seven years after their romance goes kaput, Sumit and Karoli meet again, involved with other people, but with the embers of their young love still glowing. The rest, as you can well imagine, is as predictable as an Indian’s love for curry.
While Saqib pulls off the crass Delhi boy act convincingly, he falters when playing the lover. He comes across as flakey when professing his love. Taapsee essays the part of a socially awkward girl and confident entrepreneur with equal ease. It is again the romantic part where she flounders. It is as if our protagonists are not quite sure about how to make the love feel real.
It doesn’t help that the supporting cast is a complete letdown. They are either loud and brazen or boring and non-descript. Their portrayals add nothing to the storytelling.
Director Aleya Sen’s approach remains superficial at best. We never really get to see Dilli ki gulliyan or get a real flavor of the city. Even in London, a cursory drone shot of the London Bridge isn’t enough to give us a feel of that city. At least, that would have added a dimension to this tepid tale.
I was hoping for a nice warm little love story, more along the lines of, ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ or ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’, but this one left me thoroughly disappointed.