Two decades after the duo conjured up unforgettable magic in DDLJ, and five years after they were last seen on the big screen in My Name is Khan, the Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol pair isn?t exactly dry gunpowder.
But the two stars together can still generate a fair bit of pop and sizzle when the dice rolls in their favour in a rather uneven game that is an erratic cocktail of romance, action and comedy.
Whether it is just the force of nostalgia or a case of pure class asserting itself, Dilwale sails along just fine as long as SRK and Kajol are on the screen.
The lead pair is all heart. The film they are trapped in is, unfortunately, utterly soulless.
Dilwale, if not outright piffle, is flat and desultory. It has two time-frames separated by 15 years and both the stories that it narrates are about lovers, warring guardians and broken hearts.
While the first is action-packed and expectedly allows director Rohit Shetty to pull off a couple of exciting chase sequences, the second is a pedestrian mish-mash of multiple and incompatible elements.
The plot goes round in circles as a duo of brothers finds history repeating itself when the younger one falls in love with a girl but runs into a wall partly of his own making and partly of his elder sibling?s.
Dilwale, like many of Shetty?s other films, is set primarily in Goa, where Veer (Varun Dhawan), the wayward brother of a respectable car modifier Raj (Shahrukh Khan), repeatedly falls asleep on the job and ends up losing expensive parts of the vehicle in his charge.
Right upfront there is a hint that the amiable Raj has had a violent past and that he is no stranger to guns and dangerous stunts.
His prowess comes to the fore when his kid bro has a run-in with a bunch of drug dealers and is brutally roughed up.
Raj, in a black mask and in the company of two old and trusted associates (Mukesh Tiwari and Pankaj Tripathi), raids their hideout and beats the goons to pulp.
A long flashback reveals a past in which Raj was Kali, son of an Indian mafia don (Vinod Khanna) engaged in a bitter turf war with a rival (Kabir Bedi) in Bulgaria of all places.
It is in Bulgaria that Raj runs into sketch artist Meera (Kajol), goes on a five-minute date with her and packs a lifetime of romance into those 300 seconds, and then there is a violent fallout.
But the paths of two estranged lovers keep crossing and the complications keep piling up.
While all this unfolds in fits and starts, Shetty bungs in a comedic track in which Veer, his girlfriend Ishita (Kriti Sanon), him bum chum Sid (Varun Sharma) and a petty thief Mani (Johnny Lever) desperately seek to reunite Raj and Meera, who now runs a restaurant in Goa.
Shetty is best at blowing up cars and staging big action scenes. But this propensity of his has to take a back seat because Dilwale is essentially a musical love story underpinned with broad strokes of humour.
Part of the latter is contributed by Boman Irani, cast as a patricidal Mafioso named King, whose only trip in life is to drive around in a souped-up vintage crock and push drugs in Goa?s shacks.
Also on stand-by is Sanjay Mishra in the guise of a weirdo who deals in stolen cars.
His name is Oscar, which enthuses Raj to address him at one point as Puraskar-ji. It?s Oscar, he reminds the hero. Same difference, the latter retorts: ?Award hi toh hai.? So much for wit!
Much earlier in the film, Kajol?s character, having pulled a fast one on Kali, asks: Kaisi lagi meri acting ? world class, na?
Well, Kajol is fantastic. Dilwale isn?t. The lead actress matches SRK move for move. But she definitely deserved a more sensible screenplay for her comeback.
To put it simply, Dilwale is a bizarre love story. SRK has done his share of bizarre love stories in his time, but this one just doesn?t get off the ground despite the superstar?s best efforts.
There is more hate and distrust in Dilwale than love. No amount of good-natured clowning and old school romance can save it from sinking into a deep pit a patchiness.
Watch it for Kajol and, to a lesser extent, for SRK. The rest of the actors on this vehicle, barring Varun Sharma on an occasion or two, are mere passengers.