Ayushmann Khurrana in a still from 'Dream Girl' (Youtube grab image) Photograph:( Others )
Perhaps we have been spoilt by Khurrana himself in the past few years with some exceptionally good films and therefore in comparison, his latest seems to fall flat. You may laud Ayushmann Khurrana’s performance but not so much the film.
Ayushmann Khurrana has had a dream run at the box office since 2017. With each of his film, Khurrana has just reiterated the fact that there is no ignoring this multi-faceted actor.
Since his debut in 2012 in Shoojit Sircar's sharp comedy 'Vicky Donor', Khurrana has mastered playing the stereotypical, brash North Indian guy to the hilt. Which is why when you watch him playing the smart alec Karamveer in Raaj Shaandilyaa’s 'Dream Girl' this week, you may get a sense of déjà vu. The premise may be different but you have seen Khurrana in similar roles.
Born with an unusual talent where he can imitate the voice of a woman, Karam(Khurrana) is celebrated in the local area. He plays Radha and Sita in local plays but his father Jagjeet Singh (Annu Kapoor) wants him to get a regular job. Karam does find job himself but at a seedy call centre which caters to lonely men (and women) in the wee hours of the night. The catch is that Karam has to pretend he is ‘Pooja’ and chat with his clients.
All hell breaks loose when all his clients want to either meet Pooja in person or marry her. While Karam wants to settle down with his fiancé Mahi (Nushrat Bharucha), the suitors want to be with Pooja. His clients include a wannabe poet-cop (Vijay Raaz), a disgruntled, men-hating journalist (Nidhi Thapa), her fiance’s brother (Abhishek Bannerjee), a brat with too much extra money to splurge(Raj Bhansali), and even his own father.
As the many suitors of Pooja go the extra mile to be with her, it creates havoc in Karam’s personal life creating the perfect environment for a situational comedy.
On paper, the film’s plot may have appeared a sure-shot winner but at the execution level, the makers have fumbled in too many occasions. The film begins on a hilarious note as Khurrana goes about being the ‘dream girl’ who everyone desires, the jokes and one-liners come in plenty. The film heavily uses Bollywood titles and popular songs to speak for the various situations in the film creating genuinely funny moments.
It’s the curse of the second half that completely mars the film’s narrative. The jokes and the situations become slightly jaded after a point and you find yourself getting impatient with the way the story is shaping up. The plot’s incoherence results in a sluggish second half and the screenplay appears repetitive.
Despite a great ensemble cast, somehow the film doesn’t add up ultimately. Vijay Raaz and Annu Kapoor are especially good but the writing perhaps lets them down. It ultimately comes down to Ayushmann Khurrana to take the story forward with his phenomenal performance. Khurrana shines in a film that one could have easily overlooked if someone else was cast in his place. He switches from being Pooja to Karam and back effortlessly, he makes the most dry, jaded lines appear funny. The camaraderie he shares with Kapoor and actor Manjot Singh who plays his childhood friend seems organic and almost natural.
The film’s leading lady, meanwhile, is the weakest link of the film. Bharucha and Khurrana’s love story seems unnecessary and forced to the entire plot. Bharucha also somehow doesn’t fit in the part of a small-town girl and looks out of place in most of the scenes much like the songs that arbitrarily appear in the film.
The writers slip in monologues on religion, sexism in Mahabharata and loneliness in the age of social media- just to reaffirm the intention of the film. And while we know that they make sense- when its shown on screen it doesn’t create that much of an impact.
Perhaps we have been spoilt by Khurrana himself in the past few years with some exceptionally good films and therefore in comparison, his latest seems to fall flat. His forte has always been situational comedies, and in ‘Dream Girl’ too, he fits in well and shines no doubt, but unlike his previous films, this one doesn’t create a lasting impression. You may laud Ayushmann Khurrana’s performance but not so much the film.