U/A; Comedy, Romance
Director: Raaj Shandilya
Cast: Ayushmann Khurana, Nushrat Bharucha, Annu Kapoor, Vijay Raaz
It is only a torrential rain of laughs in the theatre that critic-proofs a film like this for its audiences. This is a non-stop gag-fest. And all that you need to know is if the gags being thrown at you at the speed of light, hits your brains, or bounces off the skull.
Happy to note, most jokes, in varying levels of coolness and crassness, land. You instantly crack up—going through a series of corny characters, situations, and a fairly slapstick sort of massy humour. You laugh, no? Yes. That said; frankly, anything I’m gonna say after this amounts to taking oneself too seriously. Because the movie so doesn’t.
It is set in urban Haryana. The dialect is deeply authentic/rustic. The writer-director of this film, I’m told, holds a Limca Book record (Indian equivalent of Guinness) for delivering the maximum number of scripts (625), in continuity, for Sony TV’s skit show Comedy Circus. He also shares writing credits in films like Welcome Back (2015), Bhaiaji Superhit (2018), and Freaky Ali (2016). Comic dialogue-writing appears to be his forte. No doubt, he’s saved the best jokes for this directorial debut.
Shaandilya was also the gag-writer for Comedy Nights With Kapil. One of the things you noticed about that sketch-comedy talk-show was its obsession with dressing up men as women—Dadi (Ali Asgar), Gutthi (Sunil Grover), etc. This movie follows a similar theme.
It’s about a boy called Karam, who has a telephone identity of a girl called Puja, that he voices to chat up random men, and make money along the way. This is quite different from Vidya Balan’s housewife being a love-guru on a radio station (in Tumhari Sulu).
Puja chats one-on-one from a call-centre. And there’s something about Puja, in the same way, that There’s Something About Mary in the 1998, super-funny Farrelly Bros. flick, that all kinds of men, mostly weirdos, start falling head over heels for her!
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These curios for side-characters, or the male ensemble-cast, are hilarious. As are the terrible twists and turns in their tales. Ayushmann Khurana, of course, plays Karam, plus Puja—totally killing it as both. As an actor, ever since Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017)—Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017), Andhadhun (2018), Badhaai Ho (2018), Article 15 (2019)—Khurana has been on nothing short of a dream run.
Where does one place Dream Girl on that dream run? As a movie that even genre-wise is as different from anything he’s done before, except that he wonderfully plays off Annu Kapoor here, like he did in his debut, Vicky Donor (2012).
Unsure about the business-model of this Puja chat-line service, since this Karam fellow is essentially on his personal cell-phone, driving around in a car gifted to him by his office. But the business-model of this movie is quite clear and simple: Pump up the volume. Get people in hoards. And hope to laugh all the way to the bank.
This is the kind of unpretentious, over-the-top, front-bencher comedy that actors led by Govinda used to crack it with hits, or misses, often written by Rumi Jaffery, or directed by David Dhawan, back in the ’90s.
Now should we think about the finesse of filmmaking here (there’s very little of it), or gags overstaying their welcome (some of them do), or the political correctness of some of these small-town/mohalla gags… Should we think, about? Don’t. Seriously, don’t.
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