Similar to the groundbreaking cross-border romance in Yash Chopra’s 2004 film Dunki, Shah Rukh Khan and Taapsee Pannu are lovers separated by boundaries but never captured by them.
Our first impression of Shah Rukh Khan as an elderly guy with grey hair comes from Veer-Zaara, Yash Chopra’s groundbreaking cross-border romance from 2005. He portrayed a fifty-year-old Indian Air Force fighter who had been imprisoned in a Pakistani jail for twenty-two years. Eighteen years after the film, at the age of fifty-eight, Shah Rukh is actually older than his Veer-Zaara character. In that year, he portrayed a fit and attractive elderly citizen in two different films: Jawan (directed by Atlee) and Dunki (starring Rajkumar Hirani).
Borders dividing love
However, the similarities don’t stop there. The graphs of Veer-Zaara and Dunki’s love stories are comparable. In India, two young people fall in love after the man saves the woman. He pledges to protect her at all costs and takes on the task of guiding her on her difficult, mentally and physically taxing journey home. However, the regulations of the new nation he moves to force him to make a decision between his love for his country and his love for her.
The parallels start to diverge at that point. Her response and his choice are distinct from one another. They continue on their individual trajectories in the nation of their choice. Despite their lack of communication and their assumption that each of them is established with their spouse in their home country, their affection for one another endures for more than 20 years. They ultimately cross paths, travel back to their native country together, and discover that they had been waiting for one another for the entire time while still single.
Where is the affection?
It’s said that your decisions determine your fate. That applies to films as well. Veer decides to stand by his love when Raza (Manoj Bajpayee), Zaara’s fiancé, blackmails him, either compromising their marriage or admitting under false pretences that he is an Indian agent in Pakistan. Before a young attorney named Saamiya Siddiqui (Rani Mukerji) saves him, he spends 22 years in prison. He requests that his attorney keep Zaara out of the case as he continues to defend her.
In contrast to Veer, Hardy (Shah Rukh) in Dunki plays the soldier and decides to support his nation. Trapped in the UK with his sweetheart Mannu (Taapsee Pannu), who is an illegal immigrant, he is offered the opportunity to apply for asylum by fabricating a story about being in danger in India. However, Hardy’s passion for his country triumphs over his feelings for Mannu, and as a result, he is sent back to India, splitting up from Mannu, who remains in the UK.
Similar to this, Zaara loses it and calls off her engagement after being led to believe that Veer perishes in a bus accident while returning to India, even though this causes her father (Boman Irani) to pass away from cardiac arrest. She subsequently moves to India, where she takes care of Veer’s Punjabi ancestral village. Though she can no longer marry Veer in her mind, she nevertheless fulfils her responsibilities as if she were his widow.
However, Mannu decides to apply for asylum in Dunki once more while being well aware that doing so may cause her to be separated from Hardy. She makes the deliberate decision not to return to her native nation, where she first met Hardy and where she sees no hope for the future. She rejects her Indian realities in favour of her British aspirations. Years later, we witness her passing away in a London hospital from a tumour, yet she longs to go back home—not so she can see Hardy, but so she can see her home before she passes away.
They are star-crossed lovers in both situations. Their endless romance is impeded by man-made issues such as nationality, immigration rules, and cross-border animosity. The distinction, though, is that in one instance, they made the decision to part ways, while in the other, they remained loyal to one another in the face of treason, death, and family bereavement. Consequently, after much anticipation, Veer and Zaara travel to India as a married couple.
But in Dunki, Mannu passes away right after Hardy asks her to marry him. Is that how Rajkumar Hirani is punishing her for not choosing love when she had the chance? If Hardy had received the same punishment, people might have thought so. In order to be faithful to his nation, he also made the decision not to choose love. However, it is counterproductive to award him for his patriotism in a film that promotes love and humanity across national boundaries. It’s outdated to give up your love for your nation. Maybe try claiming another nation as your own to commemorate your devotion.