Some will call Dolly ki Doli the best Sonam Kapoor movie as of now. But what those people are saying is that Dolly ki Doli is better than I Hate Luv Stories, Mausam, Players and Bewakoofiyan. It doesn’t add up to much of a compliment, even if Kapoor is such a beautiful person.
In Abhishek Dogra’s debut film Dolly (as played by Kapoor) is part of a con gang that finds suitably stupid eligible bachelors, gets them married to Dolly, who mixes sleep medicine in the suhaag raat doodh and makes off after robbing them dry. One of her gang members (Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub) who generally plays the brother is miffed because he digs her. One of her victims (Rajkummar Rao) is miffed because he still wants her. One of the police officers on the case (Pulkit Samrat) is miffed because he wants revenge against her.
If this all sounds a bit vague and meandering, that's because Dolly Ki Doli is precisely that. The thing is, wherever the meandering narrative turns towards, there’s something interesting to look at. Rao is this hardcore Jatt softened into a weepie after nursing his broken heart. Rao is such a natural he can make you like anything he appears in, even if the material is way below his talent level. One of the victims’ mother is Archana Puran Singh, who brings the house down as the hilariously witchy, crass and self centered Punjabun mother. Singh’s boisterous bitching makes it really hard to suppress your giggles. Also bringing on the guffaws is Varun Sharma as the quintessential Delhi buffoon desperate to please a pretty girl. The funniest moment in the film is when he’s getting beaten with a shoe by a fellow Dolly victim.
Plus there’s the always likable Manoj Joshi, Rajesh Sharma and Brijendra Kala in tiny supporting roles, lending their bits of assured niceness that they generally do.
The problem is all the disparate goodies rise and eventually crumble because of the weak foundation of their root - the central character of Dolly who is not only terribly written but also severely underperformed by Sonam Kapoor. Whether Dolly is happy, or sad, or scared, or upset, or frustrated, or angry, or tipsy, there is literally no change in Sonam’s personality. It’s only the volume of her voice that changes. Her presence is simply too insubstantial to support an entire story.
It doesn’t help that her character has no backstory whatsoever – we never get to know why she’s into the con game, where she’s originally from or why she has no interest in a real relationship. One presumes that such things have to be excised to keep the runtime short, but it takes away a large slice of the film’s quality. Moreover, when the best thing you can say about a movie is that its runtime is just 110 minutes, you're not exactly talking about a great piece of filmmaking.
There are also a ton of truly astronomical plotholes in the movie. Dolly’s gang manages to dupe more than a dozen grooms and their respective families in the film, yet there is not a single picture of the gang in the wedding photos to show to the police. The film often tries to make us forget such logical leaps of faith by asking us to simply go with the flow of the series of the small, light hearted comedic moments. But then it also renders three completely out of place songs, one truly nonsensical celebrity cameo, and a couple of seriously ham handed attempts at ‘emancipation’. A few characters bicker, and they suddenly forgive each other. The cons are so contrived and the ending so predictable you’ll wonder why the characters didn’t go ahead with their actions an hour earlier. Come to think to it, none of it makes any sense whatsoever. Including the thakela nature of Malaika Arora’s item number.
Though Dolly Ki Doli doesn't qualify as an awful movie – it’s not tacky looking, and the lingo is fairly funny - it does, regrettably, end up as forgettable fluff and a hugely wasted opportunity.
(First published in Firstpost)