Dil Juunglee Review: A borefest with terrible acting and filmmaking
Director Aleya Sen seems unclear about the film she wants to make, and it doesn't help that the acting in Dil Juunglee is some of the worst in recent times
It's not clear what kind of film Aleya Sen wanted to make with Dil Juunglee. Less than an hour into the film, Sumit (Saqib Saleem trying hard and failing at Lajpat Nagar Delhi boy accent) gets a call from an agent in Mumbai, who is trying to mediate between him and producers. Sumit wants to be a Bollywood hero, the hero of a now long-dead Bollywood, but hero nonetheless. The agent says he'll be cast for Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge Part 3, and in between this sad attempt at a joke, is another nugget about how the producers find the number 2 unlucky and therefore the next film is a 'part 3'. It made me wonder about the spelling of Juunglee in Dil Juunglee. It has two 'u's, one seemingly unnecessary. Is Sen a fan who is trying to pay tribute? Or is she trying to flip those long dead themes by talking about how films never show the love stories that follow, the ones that commence as soon as the end credits roll? We are as confused as Sen seems to be. That's probably why it is easier to talk about Dil Juunglee's spelling as opposed to the film itself.
Director: Aleya Sen
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Saqib Saleem
At every turn, Dil Juunglee (written by Tonoya Sen Sharma and Shiv Singh) teases you that now it will change into some other film, but it is relentless in its mission to disappoint. Koroli Nair (Taapsee Pannu) says she understands only literature, but we don't hear her talk about anything more than the romantic novels that could be filmed in Sumit's Bollywood. She teaches him English for his career dreams, they fall in love and try to elope. Koroli talks about cooking for him or going grocery shopping with him and these parts demand an unimaginable amount of patience and investment to get through. Women like Koroli might exist, that's never the problem with the film. The problem is that we don't know what Sen is trying to establish with this treatment to Koroli. Are we supposed to sympathise? Are we supposed to laugh at her? Sen trusts that we'll stay with her till the halfway mark and then she can paint a different trajectory for her characters. The portions immediately after the interval do offer some hope. We see a different Koroli, seven years later, now a businesswoman. But how? Sen doesn't bother explaining. The film then gets back to its patience testing ways.
If this wasn't enough, the acting in Dil Juunglee is some of the worst in recent times. Taapsee tries to bring some dignity to both the versions of Koroli, but everyone around her is either disinterested or is unable to get into it because the film's staging, direction and almost everything, is off. Surely the people playing Koroli's parents have never acted before? Sumit, who is now a headliner in a Hanuman TV series probably has a better crew around him. So much for old Bollywood.