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Dream Girl’: Laugh while it lasts

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“Dream Girl”; Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Annu Kapoor, Nushrat Bharucha; Direction: Raaj Shaandilyaa; Rating: * * * (three stars) The trick never fails. Put a Bollywood leading man in a woman’s garb, and watch the box-office rock. Kamal Haasan did it in “Chachi 420” and there was Govinda’s “Aunty No. 1”. Actors from Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty and Rishi Kapoor to Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh Khan, and Akshay Kumar couldn’t resist the odd dance in drag, or the random comic scene. Jog your memory further, and you’re thinking Shammi Kapoor and Biswajit, too.
In “Dream Girl”, it is the turn of Ayushmann Khurrana, the new-age darling of the multiplexes, to invoke girl power and woo the box-office. His act is slightly different from most of what Bollywood heroes have done so far within the theme. Although Ayushmann also gets to play out a sari-clad naari in parts, the crux of his role lies in impersonating a woman’s voice.
Debutant director Raaj Shaandilyaa uses that idea to touch upon the contemporary malady of loneliness. In an era of frenzied social media following, it is often ironic how one is left with no actual friends in life. Ayushmann as smalltown boy Karamvir Singh finds a lucrative job-op thanks to that sad reality. Son of a debt-ridden, middle-class shopowner (Annu Kapoor) in Mathura, who sells items for Hindu last rites, Karam accidentally stumbles upon a call center for sex chats. His knack at mimicking a woman’s voice lets him assume the sultry, imaginary avatar of Pooja for lonely callers.
Life is a cruise for a while, and the moolah rolls. The trouble starts when Pooja’s regular bunch of callers start falling in love with her voice. To add to Karam’s woes, many of these callers turn out to be people he knows closely.
Shaandilyaa and his co-writer Nirmaan D. Singh were out to set up the simple, feel-good fare. Karam’s plight is therefore entirely utilized to generate ample funny moments. The film reveals no ambition to open up a conversation on sexuality, or the need to understand the subject of loneliness its plot rests on.

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