Hindi film comedy scene has changed a lot but never quite reinvented itself. Somewhere or the other these films appear to be subscribing to a template with indistinguishable sound design, song placement, cinematography, colour temperature, and subplots. Progression of the events isn’t different either. They are far from experiments and/or technical innovation as far as the art form or the grammar of cinema is concerned. Hence, the best that can be expected from comedy films like Dream Girl is its dialogues and their delivery. Dream Girl is saved from becoming a nightmare by a hairline difference for its adherence to its genre that serves the audience with what they demand, comedy. But that being said, Dream Girl remains an ordinary, and at times irritating, affair due to how it creates humour.
I reckon that writing comedy is a diligent effort. Not only that you have to create situations which come out humourous to our senses, but also have to inject them with dialogues which are funny to all or majority and not just to the senses of the writer, as far as vocal comedy is concerned. So if I have to analyze whether the film works or not going by the crowd that was sitting with me in the hall, then it does, considering the laughter bursts I could hear but if I have to opine whether it worked for me or not, personally, then, unfortunately, it didn’t. I don’t understand what is funny about cross-dressing. I am not talking about any particular sequence but just a frame involving an Ayushmann Khurrana draped in sari playing Sita. We all saw that in the trailer, didn’t we?
If I consider that nobody did then we can go back to the original question, what’s so funny about cross-dressing? We can also be found laughing at people involved in implicit sex chats, as depicted in the film. Since Dream Girl serves a family audience, it can’t be explicit. We are mostly laughing at caricaturish portrayals of events and the characters involved. That’s where I found people to be failing in their acting job, or rather, the director to be failing at sketching strong characters.
Most of the characters react foolishly to each other in different episodes and while I realize that I must overlook this exaggeration to extract some joy out of it, my mind remains mostly involved in the fact that the writers are taking an escape route when they’re writing comedy. Some would argue that real depictions can be banal. I would argue that its where the challenge lies.
In one particular scene in Mukkabaaz, Shravan Singh can be seen getting frustrated at the usage of English. Comedy is created from a minimal life event that doesn’t require the creation of caricatures. But Dream Girl is mostly dependent on the idiocy and stupidity its characters show rather than the story itself.
Sometimes I get conflicted with my perspective. Which stance must I take while I think of the films such as these as some of the ideal arguments get invalidated by acquisitions of forced morality and political correctness? But hear me out.
The makers create an obese character who seems to be oblivious to her physical appearance and mistakes herself to be beautiful, unnecessarily. The audience laughs when she appears onscreen. She is not respected because that was never the motive. How else would we create humour if not passive body shaming? Then she looks at our hero (Ayushmann Khurrana) romantically and blushes as she smiles. The audience laughs again. Our hero smiles back and frowns as soon as she turns away. The audience laughs at the act of this “moti” they see.
I am confident that if only our hero hadn’t frowned at her back, if only he had kept his smile, and if only he was made to overlook the obesity, the audience would have learned something implicitly. The cost would have been the loss of two-second laughter. But the film would have given something to cherish. How many more films do we require to get rid of these disgusting tactics employed to induce laughter?
In another scene, the antagonist tries to slap our hero’s (Ayushmann Khurrana) love interest (Nushrat Bharucha). Our hero immediately prevents the slap by holding his hand and says “Bhoolna mat Pooja ek mard hai” (Don’t forget Pooja is a man, Khurrana had been masquerading Pooja for the job). What do the writer imply with this? The male saviour never ceases to exist. Nushrat’s character can’t prevent the slap. She needs a Pooja who’s a mard.
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Technically, there is nothing great about Dream Girl to be discussed. Raaj Shaandilyaa does a fine debut as its director and shows potential. He is in command throughout the film, especially in the second half. However, the climax is ridiculous. People feel that a great message is being imparted in the final act when things lay bare and all the confusions end. But the act starts with Khurrana mouthing “Jo paida kar sakta hai wo maar bhi sakta hai” (the one who gives birth can kill as well).
No matter how much gravity you provide to the context to which it was said, the dialogue shines as an example of lousy writing. The message which is given thereafter is inconsistent with the entire film and its events. It coincides only at a few points with varying levels of intensity. That being said, the message is an important one for the masses and tries to break some gender stereotypes. However, Dream Girl falls for stereotyping a religion to some extent at the same time. Earns a score, loses a score. Gets zero.
The female characters are poorly written, again, especially the role of its seemingly female lead. Ayushmann Khurrana is confident in his role as Karam/Pooja while Manjot Singh supports him brilliantly. Annu Kapoor is the best thing about this film. All these three actors are the anchors while the rest of the cast just supports. Nushrat looks cute.
The songs are pleasant but the lip-sync is terrible in “Dil ka Telephone”. Dream Girl manages to make you laugh at different moments and pulls you into its chaos of the second half before collapsing like a Zenga in its climax.
Dream Girl was not what I had dreamt it to be. My yardstick isn’t outrageously high but I won’t lower it from where it is for Hindi cinema. If a film is capable of entertaining a man, it should entertain all forms of him. It fails the moment it or its maker asks you to leave your intellect, your sensibilities, or your brain behind.