Their combined comic timing is impeccable and Indian National Award-winning actor Ayushmann Khurrana and actress Nushrat Bharucha will drive that point home with their new romantic comedy ‘Dream Girl’.
Directed by Raaj Shaandilyaa, the comedy revolves around Lokesh (Khurrana) who has this unique ability to sound like a sexy woman.
His ability to switch to a feminine voice is a hot currency among his employer — a risque call-centre set up for lonely men with questionable morals. He goes by the name Pooja and the men who call anonymously are hooked on to his flirtatious voice.
“I have gone out of my comfort zone here… My days as an RJ [radio presenter] where I pranked listeners with my girlish voice came handy,” said Khuranna with a laugh.
‘Dream Girl’ is an ode to those bawdy and loud ‘90s comedies in Bollywood popularised by the likes of Govinda.
“It was always on my bucket list to do a film like this,” said Khurrana.
And his recent National Award-win for his edgy thriller ‘Andhadhun’ has embolden him to experiment.
“My National Award has given me the liberty to be brave with my choices. It has given me the courage to be wacky and radical at the same time,” he said.
Before his zany comedy ‘Dream Girl’ hits the UAE, Gulf News tabloid! caught up with its lead players, including Bharcuha, to glean more details...
Their roles in ‘Dream Girl’
Khurrana: “It’s my most masala film ever that I have done in my career. As far as tonality is concerned, I have not played with subtlety here as an actor.
Dream Girl is an out-and-out slapstick comedy and I have not done that genre before … This character is so unique. In the earlier times, it was men who played the women characters in a play too. So in my town, my character played Radha in a play or that draupadi roles in Mahabharata play … Dream girl is an ode to all those folklores. He joins this call centre so that he can pay off his father [Annu Kapoor]’s loans. It’s a quirky comedy and is a complete family entertainer”
Bharucha: “I play Dolly Shinde who’s in love with him. But sadly, there are other callers who seem to be more in love with my guy. His other name — in the call company — is Pooja. So I am under a misunderstanding that he’s in love with someone called Pooja. There’s so much confusion there. Dream Girl is a great comedy of errors.”
Why they signed up the film
Khurrana: “Beneath the layers of humour and laughter, there’s a message that in this modern world we need a friend or someone to talk to. You need a companion. Lots of people in urban cities are essentially lonely. They are surrounded by people, yet they feel isolated. You can relate to that feeling if you are living in a metropolis like Mumbai. Sometimes, it’s easier to open up to a rank stranger on the other end of the line. I am that stranger guy.
Bharucha: “The moment I heard this narration, I realised how amazing this film is. I wanted to be a part of it … Apart from it being a comedy, it’s an interesting film with some great content … Dream Girl is a reality check about the world we live in. We are hooked onto our lives on social media that we don’t have the time to talk to someone in the same home anymore. We are connected more to an unknown person in the virtual world. They make us feel good about ourselves. This movie will make you think too.”
The legwork for the role
Khurrana: “My radio stint came to my rescue for this role. When I was a radio presenter, those prank calls that I carried out came very handy… I remember calling my first girlfriend’s home in a girl’s voice when her father picked up. Pretending to be her girlfriend ensured that he gave the phone to his daughter. All those experiences in my past came very handy.”
Bharucha: “I am a nervous wreck before very film. I am always worried about how I sounded in a scene or whether I can get another tonality to it. In the first three days of the shoot, I am constantly trying to grasp the proverbial rope to cling on to. Once I get hold of that rope, I descend slowly. So I thrive on pure chaos in my head. Though I don’t disrupt other co-stars, I perform and operate best under stress.”
On their biggest challenge
Khurrana: “Getting ready as a woman takes a lot of time. There’s lots to do. When I was playing the woman in this film, I had to shave my whole body for the first time. It took me two and a half or three hours to get ready. By evening, I got my stubble again, which means I had to get ready again and the entire drill had to start all over again. I waxed my arms for authenticity. I don’t usually have hairy arms, but it was still painful.”
Bharucha: “I was rushing from the set of Turram Khan with director Hansal Mehta and Raj [Rajkummar Roa] to the set of ‘Dream Girl’. There were days when I shot for over 50 hours back-to-back with no sleep. Both films are set in two different worlds. So switching from one world to the other wasn’t easy … But my director from Dream Girl always asked us to have fun.”
Request to their fans
Khurrana: “For the first time in my life, I want to tell people not to overanalyse my film. ‘Dream Girl’ is funny and quirky and it’s very light when compared to my dark film like ‘Article 15’. This experience of watching me in ‘Dream Girl’ is going to be diametrically different. When I first heard the narration, I told the producer that it has blockbuster written all over it, but I need to sleep over it. But I couldn’t sleep. If I get excited over a script, I can never sleep until I agree to do it.”
Bharucha: “Enjoy ‘Dream Girl’… It’s a comedy that will make you laugh and will make you think about the world we live in.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Dream Girl’ releases in the UAE on September 12.
“Annu Kapoor is a quintessential limelight stealer. He gets the best lines in a film and it’s so much fun working with him. He’s 60 plus, but his energy is limitless. He carries his lines with such flair. He’s one of the most versatile actors, we know.” — Ayushmann Khurrana