It’s hard to fathom why anybody would want to make a movie in 2014 about a criminal shooter who trades guns for roses. Surely, enough has been said about the likes of Dev (Ranveer Singh), a small-town criminal whose friendship with his partner Tutu (Ali Zafar) and his loyalty to his boss and mentor Bhaiyyaji (Govinda) are both tested when he falls in love with Disha (Parineeti Chopra). Events proceed as per script, or older scripts that have been down this road before in the 1970s. Dev dramatically buries his weapon and starts selling insurance. Bhaiyyaji, a singing, dancing and wisecracking gangster, finally bares his teeth. Disha sniffles on cue.

The 120-minute movie unfolds at some point in this era and somewhere in this part of the world, in a place and time that is halfway between Uttar Pradesh and a theme park dedicated to Hindi movie kitsch. Director Shaad Ali has doffed his hat to the innocent pleasures of popular Hindi cinema before in Bunty Aur Babli and the underrated meta-movie Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. He wants to create a fictional world like the one many of us grew up on – where people fall in love at first sight, characters don’t need surnames or back stories, evil is manufactured and doesn’t lie coiled within the breast, the rich hobnob with the not-so-rich without bothering about class differences, and villains magically disappear after obliging us with malevolence.

The cast sportingly goes along with this touching but poorly developed tribute to the triumph of evil over good, putting on their best grimaces even though they are too good-natured to scare anything other than a stuffed toy. Dev, in particular, is a sweetheart, his boyish voice and demeanour making him a most unconvincing thug but a most convincing virgin. Kill Dill lacks purpose, originality and zing, but not sincerity. Shaad Ali has tremendous faith in his creation. He directs his actors nicely and creates some unpretentious moments of wry comedy. But he works very hard for very little. The material is so flimsy that it evaporates on contact with anything resembling reality. It’s tonally off and puzzling throughout.