Mumbai, 13 Sep 2019 9:00 IST
Raaj Shaandilyaa's directorial debut is a laugh-out-loud comedy of errors that mostly works because of its deft comic timing.
At the start of Dream Girl (2019), Karamveer aka Karam is unemployed and single. By the end of the film, he has a lineup of people in love with him, ready for matrimony. Of course, he gains these suitors not as Karam but as Pooja, his alter ego at a call centre where he works.
Karam, played by Ayushmann Khurrana, has the knack of imitating the female voice from a young age. Naturally, he is the first choice any time Sita or Radha is cast in the local plays.
The Singh family is deeply in debt, both the family home and the store have to be paid off. So Karam takes his ‘gift of gab’ and uses it to his advantage, captivating callers in conversation.
With Vijay Raaz’s Rajpal, ‘Pooja’ encourages his shayri (poetry). She listens to Roma (Nidhi Bisht) vent about untrustworthy men and Mahinder (Abhishek Banerjee), a bal brahmachari (one sworn to celibacy), begins to think of marriage after speaking to her.
Karam, who lives with his widowed father Jagjit (Annu Kapoor), meets the woman of his dreams but has to wrestle with Pooja’s suitors who threaten his work-life balance, and things begin to hit a bit closer to home.
Ayushmann Khurrana totally commits himself to the dual roles as the wise-cracking Karam in person and the sassy phone persona of Pooja. He is completely at ease with both his feminine and masculine side. There aren’t many heroes who can perform the film’s finale in feminine attire, in full makeup and accessories.
Khurrana is surrounded by a terrific cast, beginning with Kapoor, Raaz, and Manjot Singh as his best friend Smiley. Kapoor is especially terrific as the clueless father who finds a new reason to live. Nushrat Bharucha plays Karam’s supportive girlfriend in a smaller role than expected.
Besides ‘Pooja’, the real star of Dream Girl are the crackling dialogues by Raaj Shaandilyaa. His directorial debut meanders a bit when it lingers on the other characters, but when it comes to the characters of Karam/Pooja and Jagjit, the film is firing on all cylinders.
The zingers and witty repartee fly by so fast, you may need a second viewing to catch what you have missed.
The plot lines strain incredulity at times (Pooja should really get better at identifying her callers’ voices) but, overall, the film is about the tangled web Karam continues to weave for himself as he tries to keep his dual lives from merging into one.
The finale also tries to hastily add a message about loneliness and how people need someone to talk to, which just seems like a clunky way to end.
But Shaandilyaa and editor Hemal Kothari have deftly handled the comedy moments which allows actors like Khurrana and Kapoor to shine. It’s thanks to their comic timing that the film is elevated and works.
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