Dream Girl lives up to its hype, thanks to its leading man Ayushmann Khurrana, who seamlessly switches between his two characters.
This is not the first time that we have seen an actor transforming into an actress in Bollywood, but with this film, the one thing it does well is break its stereotype. The plot of the film gets crazy as we go further into the film, and hence even a film with a 2-hour run time seems to be stretched at some point.
The film starts off with a young Karam, modulating his voice to sound feminine to save his best friend from being punished. The opening sequence also shows how he is asked to be Sita for “one last time” and that isn’t over even in the present time of the film’s world. This itself sets the dynamics of our leading man whose feet are touched by people around him for he plays Sita to Lord Ram.
With this film, the filmmaker tries to insert as many film references as he can. From the title to many other sequences like him saying “Ayushmaan Bhava” when a character touches Khurrana’s feet, he says with an emphasis on his own name Annu Kapoor having a picture of Hema Malini and addressing her as “Dream Girl”. Abhishek Banerjee, who plays Mahinder, inserts the “Vicky pleej” dialogue from Stree in a different context.
A young man without a job, Karamveer Singh (Karam) joins a shady call center, that employ women to sweet talk lonely men and women. Ayushmann convinces them by being able to talk in a female voice, hence securing the job. His clientele includes a drunk poet cop (Vijay Raaz), a young, rich Haryanvi brat, a journalist who hates men because of her past (Nidhi Bisht), and his fiancé’s younger brother (Abhishek Banerjee). As expected, Puja’s professional life intertwines with Karam’s personal life and that’s when his life goes through a landslide.
“Bajaao bhai, bohot badhiya bajate ho”, this line sums up the midpoint in the film.
When Vijay Raaz and Karam come together, we know the movie is going to go down from there. By the time interval comes, there are so many subplots that have opened up, but their first interconnect is very seamless.
Then there comes the 2nd half curse, that comes with every movie. Ayushmann and Manjot try to untangle the mess they get into, but the results are even messier. However, suddenly you are then watching two movies for the price of one. On one hand, is this all out comedy, where jokes land and punches work with the kind of frivolity they’re hit with, and on the other spectrum there is this broad commentary of self-reflectiveness, which both in tandem just don’t work.
Using words like “Surgical Strike” and “MeToo” with relevance to rehearsing a scene from Mahabharata are words carefully woven into the dynamic showing contemporary relevance in the film’s world. Every time the film’s pace drops, a new set-up, which may not necessarily take the story forward as much as contribute to the existing chaos, emerges and gets the laughs. It doesn’t stereotype one religion, but does use tropes from a lot of them. The scenes where Annu Kapoor switches religion for the sake of his quasi-imaginary lover are, sure, hilarious but are overstretched and milked to a point of being annoying and exploitative.
Then comes the climax, which is as dramatic as any Ekta-Kapoor-daily-soap-ever. It doesn’t land as well as the rest of the film because the director literally spells out the meaning of the film, which may not be well received. The movie works best when it’s silly with dark satire.
The romantic angle between Khurrana’s Karam and Nushrat’s Mahi feels the most underworked segment in the film, which starts off as lowkey stalking and within montages in a song, they’re engaged.
Ayushmann Khurrana however steals the show yet again with another stellar performance. With endless exhibition of emotions and expressions, and effortlessly switching between both his characters, he just seems to have made the best of both these characters, and it shows through his organicity, and for that itself, Dream Girl is worth a watch.