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An Eerie Journey Towards A Dream Destination: Review Of ‘Dunki’

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Delhi North chapter.

What if I tell you a plethora of people are ready to risk their lives for a better future? Several people who aren’t able to lead a desirable life in their homeland dream of moving abroad. The latter gives them the ability to earn more, save more, and generate wealth. Ease of life and a luxurious lifestyle are the prominent attractors.

Recently, a planeload of mainly Indians were deported to Mumbai on allegations of human trafficking and illegal migration. However, the authorities later stopped investigating it due to considerable positive findings. This incident brought the issue of illegal immigration into the limelight once again. It is counted as an international matter of concern. There are a staggering number of Indians who cross borders illegally, taking ‘Donkey Routes‘. These routes help people transit to their dream destinations, mainly to the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., through unofficial ways.

Dunki, a Hindi film released in 2023, revolves around the issue of ‘Donkey Flights‘. It beautifully captures the reality of people who have a dream to settle abroad but lack essential qualifications and economic support. The movie is set in a village in Punjab. It commences by showcasing four friends who share a common dream of going to England. The issue? They neither have a visa nor a ticket. The female protagonist, Manu, played by Taapsee Pannu, belongs to a lower-middle-class family who is struggling to pay debts and has lost her home due to unsuccessful repayment. She grieves about her incompetency to help her family along with her friends Buggu and Balli who are in a similar situation. Hence, they decide to bring their ‘London Dream’ to fruition. Data shows that in the Kaparthula and Kurukshetra districts of Punjab and Haryana, a certain segment of the population aspires to settle abroad for better economic opportunities. At times due to monetary disadvantage, these people adopt unofficial or illegal routes to reach their ‘dream destinations’. Hence, taking the ‘Donkey Route‘. The male protagonist in the movie, Hardy, played by Shah Rukh Khan, agrees to accompany the three friends. They take this very treacherous donkey route to reach London.

Despite being aware of the reality of crossing borders and transiting through dense forests, uneven terrain, and cold deserts, many of these immigrants don’t turn back. This might be because their dreams are stronger and their grit is unbeatable. They undoubtedly believe that achieving their ‘American or London dream‘ is the secret to their success. Dunki dabbles into the shocking realities of such people, some of whom succumb to the climate or stand at the gunpoint of border police. At last, these four friends finally make it to London. Nevertheless, the happiness was short-lived. It was just a few months until they realized that living abroad with an asylum status was a strenuous task.

I vividly remember the scene where Balli was seen begging. It was their sole means of survival in the foreign land. It gave me chills and made me ponder their decision to adopt the treacherous route only to end up living a harsh life. However, I later tried understanding it from the characters’ psychology. They believed it was better to take shelter in a foreign destination rather than struggle in India forever. The movie is a must-watch. I highly recommend it considering I have always found non-fictional stories better than fictional ones. I find the ending of the movie quite positive. When loneliness gripes the four friends, they realize the necessity of their own country. In the end, they managed to return to India and were shown happy. This movie is a reality check and brings forth an imperative concern that needs to be addressed.

Dunki depicts the tragic journey of a middle-class family, who even after risking their lives, aspires to settle abroad. Bollywood should make more movies of this sort as they leave a positive thought for the audience to feed onto. I feel the mass appeal of such movies carries the potential to bring an ACTUAL change and raise awareness among people on sensitive issues. Illegal migration remains one of the most gruesome global problems. Therefore, I feel such issues are of utmost concern and demand emergent intervention from state and non-state actors.

Aarzoo Rohilla, is a writer at HerCampus Delhi North. Being a political science enthusiast, she prefers to dwell in arenas which certainly pose an impact on the society from the lens of politics. Beyond this, she pens down about real life experiences and worthy happenings from the surrounding. Aarzoo is currently majoring in Political Science from Indraprastha College For Women, University of Delhi with minor in psychology. She possesses deep rooted inclination towards these subjects. She has been part of NGO’s wherein she has worked closely for the social cause. Being a part of an internship at Fortis Hospital for mental health, she has worked for pushing away mental health stigma. In her leisure time, she is usually engaged in penning her diary. She firmly believes that “you’re one of a kind”. As one goes by her name which translates to desire, she’s striving to fulfill them. Aarzoo enjoys spending time with her dog and can never say no to dance.