Dono review: Rajveer Deol and Paloma make a lacklustre debut in Avnish Barjatya’s wannabe modern take on love and relationships
While Avnish S Barjatya tries to give a modern upgrade to the traditional values of Rajshri Films, Sunny Deol’s son Rajveer and Poonam Dhillon’s daughter Paloma try too hard (but in vain) to make it work.
- Avnish S Barjatya
- Rajveer Deol,
- Paloma Dhillon,
- Kanikka Kapur,
- Rohan Khurana,
- Aditya Nanda,
- Poojan Chhabra
Dev Saraf (Rajveer Deol) is the young CEO of a start-up in Bangalore. He’s been in love with his best friend Alina (Kanikka Kapur) for about a decade but couldn’t ever muster up the courage to let her know how he feels. So, when Dev’s mother tells him that Alina is getting married, he’s bound to feel betrayed in his ek tarfa pyaar. Nevertheless, hearing the advice of an agony aunt (Tisca Chopra) in a TV show, he decides to attend Alina’s wedding in Thailand and get closure.
Upon landing at the wedding venue, Dev meets Dulhe ki friend Meghna (Paloma), who’s nursing a broken heart herself. She was in a toxic relationship with the groom - Nikhil’s (Rohan Khurana) best friend Gaurav (Aditya Nanda) and had a bitter breakup a month back. To add to her miseries, her ex Gaurav is also at the same wedding (since both of them are the groom’s besties), but she tries to put up a brave front and deal with the situation with maturity. It’s often said that it takes two broken hearts to heal one, but does that happen with Dev and Meghna? That’s what the movie is about.
Dono marks quite a few firsts. It’s the debut film of Sunny Deol’s son Rajveer and Poonam Dhillon’s daughter Paloma. It also marks the foray of Avnish S Barjatya into films as a director – who’s tasked with taking forward the legacy of Rajshri Films, laced with its familial values, traditions and beliefs. With Dono, the debutant director does try to give a modern upgrade to those very values and beliefs that form the core of the iconic production house and the legacy of Sooraj Barjatya. He attempts to bring forth a romantic drama that may appeal to the current generation but in his execution, he eventually sticks to the broader canvas and setting that his father’s films are known for.
So, Avnish’s two, somewhat broken, protagonists Dev and Meghna, meet against the backdrop of a wedding. And because the story is meant to cater to the current times, this time, it’s a destination wedding in Thailand, replete with all the rishtedaars, the pre-wedding festivities, friendly cricket match between the bride and the groom’s side, nosey and judgemental extended relatives, and a debutant wedding planner who keeps messing up the bookings among other things. The intent to present a modern-day take on love and relationships, dealing with heartbreak, the importance of self-worth while also highlighting how suffocating traditional rules and customs can be, in a seemingly breezy film is quite evident. But where Dono falls short is in its execution, primarily led by lazy writing and sub-par performances by its protagonists.
Avnish Barjatya, who has also co-written the film with Manu Sharma, conveniently introduces hiccups in the narrative, and ends up resolving them with equal ease. For example, right in the beginning, Dev’s strained equation with his father is hinted at with a scene that involves his tying-the-tie-knot skills. But there’s nothing that the writer duo does throughout the 156-minute-long runtime of the film to develop it further. As a result, when the resolution comes towards the end, you don’t really feel any connect. Rather, you end up questioning the need of this track in the first place. This is merely an example of several hurdles that seem to have been force-fitted in the story to make up for the absence of a strong antagonist/villain. The uneven pacing of the narrative further dampens the mood and tests your patience.
Despite the flaws in its screenplay, Dono did have the potential to work, provided it was led by solid performers. With the reins in the hands of debutants Rajveer and Paloma, the film never quite gets elevated. The inexperience of the protagonists is quite evident. Rajveer looks good on the posters but has a lot of work to do in order to prove his mettle as an actor. He’s got the looks for it, sure! But he needs to work a lot in the departments of dialogue-delivery and facial expressions. The issue is not as much with the diction, but with the intonation in his delivery. There are scenes which reminded us of Fardeen Khan’s dialogue delivery in his debut film Prem Aggan (1998). Rajveer did try to be sincere in his efforts, but sadly his lines failed him.
Paloma, on the other hand, comes of as a slightly better performer in comparison. She puts in an earnest effort in her scenes and sometimes hits the mark, but has a long way to go before establishing herself in the mainstream cinema. In most of the scenes, we were left admiring her beautiful earrings as they were more prominent than her expressions. For a romantic on-screen pair, the chemistry between Rajveer and Paloma is quite lacklustre. The scenes involving their conversations do not ignite any spark. It is quite difficult for us to decide who should be blamed for the same – the writers, or the performances?
Among the supporting cast, Kanikka Kapur deserves a special mention. The actress emerged as a shining star with her portrayal of Alina, despite not having the titular role. She aces her scenes with ease and has a certain raw charm that many would find appealing. Rohan Khurana and Aditya Nanda do a fair job in their respective roles. Poojan Chhabra, who gave a commendable performance in Amazon Prime Video’s Adhura earlier this year, is completely wasted in Dono. Tisca Chopra in a special appearance is likeable but too over-the-top.
The film has been beautifully shot though. Chirantan Das’s cinematography ably captures the picturesque locations of Thailand in all their glory. The costume design by Terrence Lobo works in tandem with the mood of the wedding festivities. The background score by George Joseph is apt, but never really uplifts the scenes. Even the music by the trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is extremely forgettable. Except for the title track, which is somewhat hummable, none of the songs stayed with us. We expected better from a Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy music album. The lyrics by Irshad Kamil are strictly average and don’t leave a mark.
Dono attempts to be a modern take on love and relationships (among other things) but in the hands of the debutants (actors and director), it doesn’t realise its potential. Rajveer Deol and Paloma Dhillon’s lacklustre chemistry too does little to elevate the film. You can skip the theatres and watch it on OTT later, on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you have nothing better to do.
(All images, unless mentioned otherwise, via YouTube/Screengrab)