Banner: Balaji Telefilms
Producers: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor
Director: Raaj Shaandilyaa
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Nushrat Bharucha, Annu Kapoor, Abhishek Banerjee, Manjot Singh, Nidhi Bisht, Raj Bhansali, Vijay Raaz, Rajesh Sharma, Neela Mulherkar
Writer: Raaj Shaandilyaa
Music: Meet Bros
Today, a good risk in cinema takes you places. That is exactly what paid off for Raaj Shaandilyaa in his debut directorial Dream Girl when he decided to break a few societal norms and promote the idea of gender fluidity, that too in the most hilarious way possible. And when he has an actor like Ayushmann Khurrana to bring forth a crazy plot on the big screen, giving some method to the madness, things are bound to go in the right direction.
Dream Girl begins with a middle-class Gokul boy, Karam being roped into the local Ram-Leela and Mahabharata plays as Sita or Draupadi or Radha because he can convincingly pull off a woman’s voice. Karam is actively looking for a job to pay off the many loans his dad has taken and lands himself a lucrative offer where he has to impersonate Pooja at a ‘friendship’ call centre. He is so good at his job that he becomes famous among many in no time. So much so, that a few of Pooja’s regular callers fall in love with her, one of them being Karam’s father. As he tries to get out of these complicated situations to make sure that he can marry the love of his life, Maahi, the story goes through some ridiculous ups and downs that lead to a predictable but riotously fun ending.
Being a writer himself, Shaandilyaa knows the strength of a good script and he has made sure that this one was air-tight especially where the entertainment and laughs are concerned. Right from the first frame to the last, the jokes are timed to the ‘T’ and the punches land straight in the gut to make the audience crack-up throughout the course of the film.
The concept of the film is so unique that it immediately catches the interest of the viewer thus making them part of the narrative. The trailer of the film had shown the gist till the first-half of the film. The second half takes you on a different ride altogether. You keep wondering how this character of Pooja aka Karam is going to slide out of the mess that he has made and even when the viability of the script sinks a little at times, you let it go because the entertainment value is extremely high.
Dialogue is the second biggest asset of this film after Ayushmann Khurrana. Puns are squeezed out in every other scene, each one of them even funnier than the last. Lines like, ‘Har Kapoor Ranbir nahi hota’ or the actor just randomly giving aashirwaad saying ‘Ayushmann bhava’ or the character of Karam’s father, essayed by Annu Kapoor, trying to recreate Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Polo Sport’ and ‘COOL’ look from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, make sure that the laughter does not stop.
The film also touches upon subjects of religious biases, the not-so-subtle embracement of Islam at one point by a prominent character, sexism in scenes where Pooja is shamed for doing what she does and of course, gender definition.
The film does have a few unnecessary parts to it, like the emotional speech about fathers that Karam doles out without any basis or need. The climax seems a little stretched and that might only be because of the finale speech extending itself to become slightly preachy, making it a complete contrast to the flavour of the whole storyline.
The production value of the film is simple and does have a few big moments but only in a couple of songs. The streets of Mathura and the beauty of small-town India are captured well by Aseem Mishra.
The music of the film is already quite popular. The anthem, Dil ka telephone is a hit and goes well with the ongoing storyline. Radhe radhe is a catchy and visually appealing song but is forced into the narrative. As for the love track, Ik mulaqaat is the tried-and-tested version of any other romantic number in a massy entertainer with similar visuals.
To sum it up, Dream Girl is a film where one needs to embrace its quirks and give logic a pass at times because the humour is so strong that it somehow makes up for all the transgressions in the end.
What a gem Ayushmann Khurrana is when he appears on the big screen! The actor has shown his versatility especially in the last couple of years and as he attempts to break gender barriers with this role, he takes his talent a notch higher proving that there is nothing he cannot do. With impeccable comic timing, he shoulders the film with strong support from his co-stars. The nuances in his effeminate voice and body language come across effortlessly without an iota of artifice to it. The actor is animated in the right way and there are times where you feel that every inch of him is invested in nailing the part. Nushrat Bharucha has a decent presence but does not have much screen time to explore her part. Annu Kapoor is brilliant as the doting father and a middle-aged man in love. Abhishek Banerjee is fabulous and so is Vijay Raaz. Nidhi Bisht and Raj Bhansali are good. Manjot Singh is decent. Rajesh Sharma is okay. A special shoutout to Neela Mulherkar who gets the award for this year’s Best Savage Dadi.
Verdict: Super Hit!