Dream Girl 2: Ayushmann Khurrana’s cross-dressing act saves the day
Some of the purported comic situations seem written with too much stress on the punchline, and so the jokes never land
Rating: *** ½
Not since Chachi 420 have I seen an actor so immersed in the drag act. Ayushmann Khurrana simply juices the part of his cross-dressed avatar in Dream Girl 2 for all it's worth.
While Khurrana’s dishy doppelganger Pooja in the first Dream Girl film was just a voice on the phone, phone sex has no place in this 'spiritual sequel' to Dream Girl. Or so it describes itself, though there is nothing spiritual about the fatuous but fitfully fun plot, or Khurrana’s character masquerading as a bar dancer to pay off his slimy father's (Annu Kapoor) death.
The messy plot has a bifurcated trajectory. Khurrana’s cross-dressing avatar Pooja is hit upon by a bundle of sleazy men, including Vijay Raaz, Rajpal Yadav and Abhishek Banerjee, who it seems has Hrithik Roshan’s posters in his room for a purpose.
Khurrana’s male avatar Karam has his own quota of attention, notably from Seema Pahwa, who is a riot as an over-the-hill, age-inappropriate bua who thinks she is eligible for seduction. Paresh Rawal as a Muslim patriarch wondering where his family is going, is wasted in a seriously undernourished part. Ananya Pandey has nothing to do, and she doesn’t do it well.
Sadly, the writing is feeble in parts. The jokes seldom land. There are too many gibes about oranges being used as blouse paddings. But somehow, Khurrana makes it all bearable, even likeable in parts. His feminine mannerisms are never overdone. He ensures the lines never cross the border.
The rest of the cast seems to have fun, though it doesn’t necessarily mean that the audience feels the same. Some of the purported comic situations seem written with too much stress on the punchline, which is why the jokes never land. They just remain potentially funny, not tapped properly.
The characters also seem trapped in a plot that allows them no emotional movement. One of the characters is shown to come out as gay. But the plot quickly moves forward once the revelation is made, leaving the character to fend for himself.
Khurrana’s dance numbers are jokey versions of mujras which he performs in a sporting spirit. His character seems to tell us that cross-dressing need not always equate with an LGBTQIA orientation, though the sense of empathy is real.