For someone whose acting chops have never been quite praised to the skies, Sonam Kapoor surprised many by attempting two films, one after the other, where she plays the central character. Call her over-confident or strong-willed, there’s something that seems to be working for her. In Khoobsurat it was her charming vanity, including the tantrums, which fit the author-backed role like a glove. In Dolly Ki Doli, Sonam attempts something more layered. And dare I say, it’s working!
There’s way more to Dolly than meets the eye, and that’s perhaps the film’s USP. It’s based on the true story of one “looteri dulhan” who with the help of an eccentric bunch of crooks target prospective prosperous grooms, get Dolly married to them, ransack their lockers and move on to the next target. Sonu Sehrawat (Rajkummar Rao) and Manjot (Varun Sharma) play two of Dolly’s many victims. There’s nothing common about them except the pain of unrequited love or lust (in Manjot’s case) and of course empty lockers the morning after. Ouch!
While some films belong to directors, Dolly Ki Doli belongs to the casting director. Which is not to say any less of director Abhishek Dogra, but more on that later. The supporting cast orbiting Dolly hits the bull’s eye. Let’s start with Rajkummar and Varun. Rajkummar owns the part of a jilted in love, Haryanvi sugarcane farmer, complete with dialect and mannerisms. Varun aces as the wimpy mumma’s boy who falls in lust with Dolly. His awkward efforts to woo her are a chuckle fest. Archana Puran Singh, this boy’s mumma, comes across as a little too garish and loud-mouthed, even for the rich Delhi Punjabi housewife she portrays. But she has some good lines. “Aashiqui 2 jaisi shakal banaa rakhi hai!” she tells her son at one point. Salman Khan protégé Pulkit Samrat is largely the Chulbul Pandey of Dolly Ki Doli, without the glares dangling from his collars. However, he does justice to the part of a police officer looking to nab the looteri dulhan. Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub (the brilliant Manu Sharma of No One Killed Jessica) is a treat to watch too. What’s special about the film is that each character has a back-story yet the plot never gets too muddled.
Among the many delights of the film is this deadpan daadi maa, who repeats this one line like an alarm on snooze: Beti de di, sab kuch de diya, at the most crucial moments. There’s also a royal twist to the tale (quite literally) that eventually steers the film towards an unexpected climax. This is one of those rare Hindi films that actually ups the ante in the last few minutes and that’s a pleasant surprise indeed. A pacy screenplay keeps the narrative engaging and some tight editing manages to keep the film within 100 minutes, again a welcome treat. The writing is crisp and the director keeps a firm hold on all his characters, never letting them fly off the rails.
As for Sonam, in Khoobsurat’s Mili she had begun taking baby steps towards coming into her own. And as Dolly she seems to have found her momentum at last. She should be lauded for juggling both glam and de-glam avatars like a pro in this film. For the first time Sonam has attempted a complex role, the result is not perfect but certainly convincing. And kudos to the director for trusting her with the role and bringing out something in her that goes beyond sartorial excellence....