There are several odds that a first time filmmaker comes up against. This holds particularly true for a filmmaker from a non-filmy background. On that count, Abhishek Dogra, the first time director of ‘Dolly ki Doli’ trumps odds and presents an engaging story that engages you despite some flawed reasoning. In creating Dolly, Dogra and Uma Shankar Singh (co writers of the film) bring us a believable heroine- one who is unapologetically NOT Miss Goody Two Shoes. For taking chances with new directors on innovative scripts, Arbaaz Khan deserves to be noted as a better producer than most.
Without spilling the beans on the story, ‘Dolly ki Doli’ is about a robber bride. She works with a smart crew- father, mother, and brother, babbling grandmother and human resources support- to trap love struck young men into marrying her. The morning after is when this crew commits theft. Having drugged her husband and in laws, Dolly and her crew make off with the wedding loot (cash, jewelry and gifts), throwing in anything else that is valuable in the household. Poised and beautiful, Dolly tramples over many hearts with her runaway act. Primarily, she leaves an innocent, rich Haryanvi farmer (Rajkummar Rao) with a broken heart. She also cons everything out of a Punjabi mama’s boy (Varun Sharma) and his dominating mother (Archana Puran Singh). Having made news with her sensational robberies, a smart cop from Delhi is now in hot pursuit of her (Pulkit Samrat). That he has a past connection with her is hinted at. In the film’s second half, the lovesick Haryanvi farmer goes looking for Dolly, willing to forgive all. The Punjabi boy provides comic relief, and the cop’s connection to Dolly emerges. The plot twists and turns, at times in a filmy manner, but it manages to surprise.
The film’s weakness lies in its inability to express the humiliation an Indian family would suffer if a bride runs away. Shame runs deeper than monetary loss in these situations, sparking a desire for revenge in some. And a crucial back-story from Dolly’s early days should have been given more depth.
But what makes the film work is it’s solid pace. This script has been written meticulously and all characters have been given structure and form. An excellent supporting cast adds great value to the story onscreen, creating nuanced characters that are perfectly placed in a North Indian setting. Archana Puran Singh, Brijendra Kala, Manoj Joshi and Rajesh Sharma are brilliant in their short but crucial roles. Sonam Kapoor displays comfort & confidence in playing Dolly. Having said that, she could have added layers, personalizing this role some more. Still, you believe her as the beautiful and coolly devious Dolly- one who could con men into marrying her with panache. Barun Sharma is funny, but bits of his performance come across as artificial. The cherry on the cake is Rajkummar Rao. He dances superbly, and plays his part with such colloquial authenticity, that he literally owns the part.
‘Dolly ki Doli’ is a breezy, entertaining watch. Malaika Arora Khan’s item number is fun to watch because Rajkummar shakes a mean leg with the diva. It isn’t a film you treasure, but it’s definitely one that you enjoy.