In Dil Juunglee, Taapsee Pannu plays Koroli Nair, the naïve, reserved daughter of a rich businessman who wants to pursue her love for English literature and settle down with a man after marriage, against the wishes of her dad who wants her to be a successful businesswoman. Saleem plays Sumit Uppal, the stereotypical brash Delhi boy who wants to learn English to pursue a career in Bollywood.
But plot twist: Is it actually ‘love’? Or is Sumit just using Koroli for her money? Will Sumit realise his mistakes and try to redeem himself? Will Koroli find the true love she is looking for? Does true love exist and will Koroli and Sumit end up together? Cue (melo) dramatic music.
If you can’t figure out the answers to most of these mundane questions posed by this run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, you probably have not seen a lot of romcoms. As for the ‘light-hearted’ romcom that the movie is supposed to be, most of the jokes and gags in the movie seem like they were made by an adolescent. Are we expected to laugh when Sumit says, “Roses are red, violets are blue. Lovers like me, are very few”? Because that did not happen.
Pannu’s character is a person who apparently appreciates good love stories. On the other hand, she keeps a scrapbook in which she draws hearts and writes sentimental (read: nauseating) lines about ‘love’. Because what better way to appreciate good literature than by keeping a scrapbook and writing lines which even a teenager would cringe at? It is because her character has been so badly written that Pannu, despite her remarkable skills as an actor, cannot save the film. The same is true for Saleem.
There are some scenes in the movie which are genuinely funny solely because of the ease and confidence with which Saleem portrays the quirks of his character.
And because both Pannu and Saleem deliver strong performances, the best scenes in the movie are the ones in which they are alone together. Their combined performance in the song ‘Dil Jaane Na’ is spellbinding. That song makes you want to forget about the rest of the film and just focus on the electrifying chemistry between the two. It shows you what the movie could have achieved.
Unfortunately, the song ends and you’re rudely reminded of the foolishness of the film.
Supriya Shukla and Nidhi Singh have also done a good job playing their characters but their roles are not too important. In some scenes, Dil Juunglee also portrays homosexuality in a way which would make anyone (except homophobes) angry. In some other scenes, it is sexist and in some rare scenes, it even encourages violence against women.
Dil Junglee, a bit like Jab Harry Met Sejal, reminds one of how the huge potential of two talented actors was completely wasted because the filmmakers decided to stick to the same old formulaic and cheesy way of making a typical Bollywood ‘love’ story.