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Ayushmann Khurrana and Nushrat Bharucha in ‘Dream Girl’. Image Credit: Supplied

Bollywood’s man-of-the-moment Ayushmann Khurrana — who is still basking in his Indian National Award win for the cerebral thriller ‘AndhaDhun’ — meant business when he asked us not to overanalyse his new comedy ‘Dream Girl’. Focus on having a good time at the movies, he implored.

While we managed to stick to his no-scrutiny rule for most part of this comedy, teeming with characters who don’t take themselves too seriously, there were blips that couldn’t be ignored.

Here’s what worked and what didn’t stick with this entertainer directed by Raaj Shaandilyaa.

The collective acting in this ensemble comedy:

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Khurrana displays considerable heft and grace while playing Karam, a young man who’s desperate for a job.

He has this unique ability to mimic a nubile woman’s voice and is hired at a “friendship call-centre”. At his questionable line of work, Karam becomes Pooja — the lady who can charm the pants off any hardened man.

He’s on call to be intimate to those anonymous callers on the other lines and keep them engaged on the phone for the longest. Khurrana is in top form with his comic timing and the portions where he feels guilty about exploiting lonely men and women is stirring.

Khurrana is certainly endearing in his latest role, but he isn’t the only one who charms. He’s ably supported by an exceptional set of actors including Rajesh Sharma, his smarmy, exploitative boss, Annu Kapoor, who plays his cute lonely dad, and the winsome Nushrat Bharucha, who plays his spirited fiancee. Every character in this madcap comedy of errors pulls their weight.

Actor Vijay Raaz as a lanky police officer in a troubled marriage and Manjot Singh, as Karam’s best friend and ally during his call-centre misadventures, are a hoot. It’s these actors who elevate some smart writing into witty repartees.

The premise is painfully simple and just when it’s careening towards monotony, these talented bunch of actors yank it from going south.

The comedy keeps its emotions in check:

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Nothing ruins an engaging comedy like a heavy dose of melodrama. Fortunately, ‘Dream Girl’ steers clear of screechy emotionally-charged situations. Even when Karam’s life is unravelling, it’s stitched back swiftly, which is a blessing.

The trailer reveals the best bits of the film:

The best and the funniest lines were reserved for the trailer, so watching this comedy at its full-length might fill you with a sense of deja vu. If you are struck with the been-there-seen-that feeling, you aren’t alone.

Convoluted second half and over-sanitising:

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The comedy of errors is fetching in the beginning, but loses its momentum and sheen in the second half. Too many clowns spoil the Bollywood broth rings true for its climax. The makers also seem overly concerned about making this entertainer vanilla. It loses its edge in that mad rush to over-sanitise it. The seamy side of the shady phone service industry is never explored. It’s sleaziness is downplayed to alarming proportions and even injects some honour into the exercise.

The climax feels bloated. But in all, it’s an unthreatening film laced with noble intent.


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Film: ‘Dream Girl’

Director: Raaj Shaandilyaa

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Annu Kapoor, Nushrat Bharucha

Stars: 3 out of 5