‘A superlative performance by Ayushmann Khurrana isn’t enough to bail out this mindless mess’
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Nushrat Bharucha, Annu Kapoor, Vijay Raaz, Abhishek Banerjee, Manjot Singh
Director: Raaj Shaandilyaa
Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)
I love comedy as a genre and it goes beyond saying that comedy is one of the most difficult things to pull off. For comedy to work well, it has to take place in a world that is believable and authentic. Without authenticity and a semblance of logic, comedy generally falls flat. One of the funniest films of this year for me was Luka Chuppi. Even though it had an outrageous story to tell, it was presented in such an apt manner that made it almost entirely believable. Hence it was able to extract comedy in little things that propelled the narrative throughout. I was expecting the same from Dream Girl but unfortunately, that is not the case here.
Karam (Ayushmann Khurrana) has had the talent of imitating female voices from a very young age. This ability coupled with a squeaky clean exterior has earned him countless roles in the stage plays of his area. The catch is, he is forced to play goddesses and is interestingly respected for playing these characters by the locals. Karam doesn’t like playing these characters but does so to make some quick bucks as his father is under huge debts. As luck would have it, he lands up in the call center of W’ji (Rajesh Sharma), a shady operator whose scam is to fool people into speaking with women for hours to accentuate their mobile bills. Karam assumes the avatar of Pooja and hooks a great number of admirers. Little does he know that his newfound talent to engage men and women in intimate discussions would put him in a tangle that he would find impossible to come out of.
All of this might sound like an interesting idea on paper but in a time of Reliance Jio and unlimited calls, this concept feels outdated. It might have worked in the early 2000s when cell phones were just becoming a thing to have but in today’s time hooking someone on the phone to increase his bill is just idiotic. I couldn’t also fathom the amount of money that Karam was being offered for the job. Once the basic plot point was liquefied the rest of the film felt like an assemblage of gags of which some worked and some didn’t. There is a large chunk of the audience that is finding this film hilarious but that again is a subjective matter as I merely chuckled through some of the scenes while most others I found plain boring. Many critics took offense in the Islamophobia, Homophobia and a lot of other phobias that are blatantly used for comic relief here. I didn’t take any such offense as by now we are used to such tropes in Bollywood and we all know they mean nothing. However, I did take offense of the insanely mindless and sketchy image that the director paints of the female lead.
It has to be agreed that Ayushmann Khurrana gives the role everything that he has got. He is visibly uncomfortable and he knows that the story is going wayward but he still sticks to the character and it is his earnestness that makes something out of a film that was otherwise doomed. He gets able support from the veterans Annu Kapoor who plays his father and Vijay Raaz who plays a havildar smitten by the sweet words of Pooja. Annu Kapoor’s character assumes a lot of importance in the second half of the film and some of his histrionics is bound to make you chuckle. Vijay Raaz is a wonderful actor and he plays a character that is very close to what he is comfortable playing. That comfort shows in his act. Abhishek Banerjee chips in with a good cameo. He is someone to watch out for in the future.
The biggest disappointment in terms of characters for me was that of Nushrat Bharucha. Nushrat is someone who has always enjoyed meaty roles in Luv Ranjan’s films and has always exceeded expectation. To see such a wonderful actress reduced to nothing more than a prop was heartbreaking. Manjot Singh is generally funny but here he too has very little to do apart from being the sidekick of Karam. He still seems to be in the hangover of his Fukrey act. Raj Bhansali and Nidhi Bisht don’t matter and neither does Rajesh Sharma.
Dream Girl is too stupid to be taken seriously and as we all know, comedy is serious business. There are more laughs in a Kapil Sharma Show than what we get here. This is almost ironic because the film is directed by Raaj Shaandilyaa who has written 350 scripts for Krushna Abhishek- Sudesh Lehri and 200 scripts for Kapil Sharma during his tenure as a lead writer and content director for Comedy Circus on Sony. He holds the Limca Book of Records for writing 650 scripts. I am a huge fan of the Comedy Circus and I still watch some of its episodes on YouTube. The scripts were the second best thing about the show after the performances. Ayushmann does pull the film up a few notches with his spirited act and wonderful comic timing but that is never enough to make you sit through over two hours of farce that feels like a cheap and pointless copy of Vicky Donor.
By Ambar Chatterjee
Also Read: Film Review: The Boys