Dream Girl 2 Movie Review: Your worst nightmare

Ayushmann Khurrana cross-dresses with ease, and that’s all
Dream Girl 2 Movie Review: Your worst nightmare
Rating:(1 / 5)

It’s hard to be a film reviewer. It is an arduous task to watch something and later replay in your mind’s eye, frame by frame, the lackadaisical arrangement of scenes that makes for a movie these days. You try to grab on to those fleeting, unpleasant images, but your brain, like after a traumatic event, goes into self-preservation mode. It starts deleting memories or archiving it for therapy sessions. This might sound navel-gazey, but that’s how I would describe the aftertaste of watching Raaj Shaandilyaa’s latest Dream Girl 2. Your cognitive capabilities can get affected, your subconscious can feel shaken, stirred and whirred. You might feel like an ex-soldier, in a cliched scene from a war film, sleeping, sweating, mumbling, trying to shake off the flashbacks from a landmine blast. It’s just that your nightmare has a randy Abhishek Banerjee trying to grab a cross-dressed Ayushmann Khurrana in the bedroom, as ‘Main Nikla Gaddi Leke’ from Gadar (2001) plays in the background.

Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Ananya Panday, Annu Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Manoj Joshi, Rajpal Yadav, Manjot Singh, Seema Pahwa and Vijay Raaz

Directed by: Raaj Shaandilyaa

Written by: Raaj Shaandilyaa and Naresh Kathooria

If I can make any sense of the plot, here goes. Ayushmann Khurrana is Karamveer “Karam” Singh (Karam means work) who is unemployed (geddit?). He is in love with Pari (Ananya Panday) who is named such only to slip in a ‘Papa Ki Pari’ punchline at places. Pari’s dad Jaipal (Manoj Joshi) doesn’t agree to their marriage, because Karam and his father Jagjit (Annu Kapoor) are bankrupt (their haveli is sealed by recovery agents). Jaipal gives Karam an ultimatum: get a house, a job and Rs 25 to 30 lakh in the bank account in six months or bid adieu to your marital dreams.

Now, if and only if you have seen the previous installment in the Dream Girl series, you won’t find the following events preposterous. Karam’s friend Smiley (Manjot Singh) suggests that in order to earn money he should dress up as a woman and dance in a bar. Karam does what he does best. He becomes Pooja in vocal and actual (“Karam hi Pooja hain”/ work is worship), does an item number and earns the droopy adoration of the dance bar’s owner Sona Bhai (Vijay Raaz). Parallelly, Smiley isn’t reduced to the hero’s best friend and gets an arc. He is in love with Sakina, whose father Abu Saleem (Paresh Rawal) agrees to their union, on the condition that her elder brother Shahrukh Saleem (Abhishek Banerjee) gets out of depression after his recent breakup and marries. Smiley pleads Karam and now Pooja is Shahrukh’s therapist because as per the film’s writers (Raaj Shaandilyaa and Naresh Kathooria) ‘naach gana lachak machak (dancing and singing)’ are part of a psychiatrist’s treatment. No points for guessing what comes next. Shahrukh falls for Pooja and they marry. Why does Karam agree? Because Shahrukh’s wheelchair-bound grandfather Yusuf Ali (Asrani) is offering Rs 30 lakh. Some comedy of errors and a lot of suspension of all beliefs follows. Seema Pahwa, as Paresh Rawal’s sister Jumani, falls for Karam, Rajpal Yadav, as Abhishek Banerjee’s step-brother Shaukiya, falls for Pooja, Annu Kapoor’s Jagjit falls for Jumani, Pooja’s oranges for a bosom fall off. The turbulent plot ultimately goes into autopilot. It becomes difficult to decipher if you are laughing with the film, at the film or on yourself.

After his recent experiments resulted in commercial duds (An Action HeroDoctor G AnekChandigarh Kare Aashiqui), with Dream Girl 2 Ayushmann Khurrana seems desperate to replay the small-budget-yet-massy feat Vicky Donor and Bareilly Ki Barfi had pulled off. He emotes Pooja with ease and tries almost all gags in his repository (there is also the famous Ayushmann Khurrana monologue) but the result is lacklustre and above all forgetful. Ananya Panday’s Pari is an unimaginative woman written by men. Thankfully, she is given a job (she is a lawyer) but that detail is only there to serve a dialogue (Karam tells her, “Being a lawyer doesn’t mean you have to be suspicious of your own relationship”). The character is more of Panday’s attempt to connect with Tier-2 city audiences. She slips in an uneven north Indian accent in places but that’s it. A comic stalwart like Rajpal Yadav is wasted again like he was in the recent releases Satyaprem Ki Katha and Shehzaada. Annu Kapoor, Seema Pahwa and Vijay Raaz get partially-baked characters. There is only so much that performances can pull off.

It seems like the characters in Dream Girl 2 converse in set-ups and punchlines (Director Shaandilyaa has previously worked as a writer on Comedy Circus and Comedy Nights with Kapil). The narrative exists only to serve the puns and when it comes to jokes, anything and everything goes. There are callbacks to coronavirus,  demonetisation and even Sri Lanka’s economic crisis and references to TV shows like Kasautii Zindagi KayRoadies and celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Bappi Lahiri, Tiger Shroff and Kapil Sharma. Most punchlines land awkwardly and are as amusing as a man trying to balance on one leg. Sadly, the writing revels in wisecracks that fall under the ambit of body-shaming, slut-shaming and all sorts of shaming. I did laugh at times, then hated myself for it.

Although it was loud and on-the-nose, the 2019 Dream Girl had a fleeting message on loneliness and the need for friendship. It was also coherent. The sequel feels harried and there is a line or two about the ordeal of ‘being’ a woman rather than ‘becoming’ one. But this comes after Vijay Raaz’s Sona Bhai describes Seema Pahwa as a “flop film he has watched even after interval.” Don’t know which one he is talking about.

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