Sunday, May 19

Dream Girl 2 movie review: Ayushmann Khurrana Pushes Boundaries, Film Falls Short

Ayushmann Khurrana Dazzles and Delights in ‘Dream Girl 2’ – A Playful Blend of Fashion and Chaos

Ayushmann Khurrana: Navigating a Challenging Phase. From being a one-man industry pre-pandemic, his trajectory has witnessed a noticeable dip in recent years. Despite the allure of Gulabo Sitabo (2020), the film’s digital release resulted in limited visibility. The once-effective ‘social message’ formula, evident in films like Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, Anek, and Doctor G, seems to have lost its grip.

In contrast, the suave and intricate narrative of An Action Hero (2022) struggled, potentially hindered by its intelligence. This setback has placed Khurrana in a demanding situation. Recognizing the evolving impatience of Indian audiences who crave familiar solace and escapism, he now unveils a sequel to Dream Girl (2019) – a film that stood out as one of his most high-pitched yet commercially triumphant ventures.

Directed and co-written by Raaj Shaandilyaa — also the creative force behind the original film — Dream Girl 2 serves as both a sequel and a revitalization. Familiar elements such as the setting, characters, and humor are present, but they’ve been amped up to the max. Once more, Karam (Khurrana) takes on the role of the agile Mathura youth with an uncanny skill for mimicry.

His father (Annu Kapoor), ensnared by debts, remains a constant in his life. Karam’s heart now beats for Pari (Ananya Panday), and he must swiftly change his fortunes to secure her hand in marriage. Reprising his persona as ‘Pooja,’ he ventures even further than a flirtatious voice over the phone, extending to physically impersonating her. Shaandilyaa, once again, displays finesse in handling cross-gender comedic situations; the camera playfully captures Karam’s fluid movements, and an ongoing joke revolves around the pair of oranges he uses to fill out his attire.

 

Movie: Dream Girl 2 (Hindi)
Director: Raaj Shaandilyaa
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Ananya Panday, Paresh Rawal, Seema Pahwa, Rajpal Yadav, Vijay Raaz, Manjot Singh
Run-time: 134 minutes
Storyline: In need of money, Karam poses as a bar dancer, a psychiatrist, and eventually a rich heir’s wife

 

Heeding the advice of his close friend Smiley (Manjot Singh), Karam assumes the guise of Pooja and embarks on a series of unusual occupations – from a bar dancer to an unexpected stint as a psychiatrist. Before long, he finds himself entangled in matrimony with a despondent young man named Shahrukh (Abhishek Banerjee).

The narrative sphere expands to encompass an opulent Muslim household in Agra, introducing intersecting subplots and concealed romantic involvements. As the story unfolds, it becomes a labyrinth of complexities, a comedic attempt that unfortunately veers more toward confusion than humor. Despite his background in television writing, Shaandilyaa falls short in orchestrating organized chaos. His approach lacks the vivacity and finesse reminiscent of a director like Priyadarshan. In fact, it’s disheartening to witness accomplished Priyadarshan regulars like Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav, and Manoj Joshi grapple to elevate the essence of this film.

 

At times, as a franchise comedy, Dream Girl 2 surpasses Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 in silliness and unoriginality. Most of the gags are stolen from the first film: Annu Kapoor’s Muslim travesties, Karam seducing unsuspecting men on the phone. The few jokes that land are usually at the expense of a character’s age, body type or mental well-being. A disclaimer proclaiming early on that the makers hold the LGBTQIA+ community in ‘high regards’ had me shuddering in apprehension. Turns out, Dream Girl 2 isn’t uniquely offensive to a specific identity group. Instead, its enemies are logic, good taste and comedic artistry.

Shaandilyaa’s tethering to his television origins remains palpable; there’s an undeniable presence of nods to Kapil Sharma, Roadies, and Kasautii Zindagi Kay woven into the dialogues. Much like its predecessor, Dream Girl 2 exudes a quality that could potentially resonate with a television audience.

Intermittently, the film introduces real-world occurrences – the likes of COVID, demonetization, and the economic struggles in Sri Lanka. These references are intended to evoke chuckles on cue, irrespective of their gravity. Simultaneously, an inter-religious wedding proceeding smoothly without any conflict or protest in Uttar Pradesh is presented as an everyday occurrence.

The Smiley-Karam dynamic displays a noticeable degree of queerbaiting (a feature also found in the first installment). Khurrana enthusiastically embraces cross-dressing, dramatic chest movements, and flirtatious eyelash fluttering with a flamboyant enthusiasm. The sequel introduces even more personalities for him to juggle; interestingly, he’s more convincing as the effervescent Pooja than as the rugged and assertive Karam.

The actor’s unwavering belief in his unique cinematic style is so strong that he transforms the climactic farce into an extensive monologue centered on the transformative power of love and acceptance. Panday, incorporating a Mathura accent, gazes on in bewilderment – a sentiment shared by the audience. With a runtime exceeding two hours, Dream Girl 2’s experience falls short of being dreamlike; instead, it frequently leans towards a nightmarish sensation.

 

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