A laughably vacuous script isn’t the only undoing of Dream Girl 2. The comedy caper opens with a jagrata sequence capped by a song and dance performed by lead actor Ayushmann Khurrana. Taking a cue from him, the rest of the cast treats the film like an all-nighter without a morrow and ham their way through an utterly unfunny concoction.
Directed by Raaj Shaandilyaa, who helmed the 2019 precursor, Dream Girl 2 has the likes of Vijay Raaz and Seema Pahwa, actors who are usually totally reliable, but the heavy lifting is left entirely to Khurrana. He does what he can to salvage a stale storyline that is as hollow as a drum.
It isn’t until a pre-climactic sequence, which allows Khurrana’s character to launch into a self-righteous tirade against everyone within earshot, that the actor comes into his own. The series of supposedly comic scenes that precede it is, however, a totally wasted tickle fight – it does not yield the expected laugh riot.
In one stray scene, the hero who spends most of the film in the guise of a married woman he says to a character enamoured with ‘her’: aise mat ro, mujhe hansi aa jayegi (don’t cry, I’ll break into laughter). The comedy has the reverse effect: it reduces the audience either to tears or lulls them into the sort of impassivity that lasts the entire duration of the film.
Mathura resident Karam Singh (Khurrana), a jobless gender-shifting jagrata performer, is in love with budding lawyer Pari Shrivastava (Ananya Panday). But since his father, Jagjeet Singh (Annu Kapoor), is buried under a mountain of debt and their ancestral home is a crumbling mess, the girl’s dad (Manoj Joshi) lays down conditions for the suitor.
Find a job, renovate your home and build up a substantial bank balance and only then ask for my daughter’s hand, the money-minded patriarch says. Karam, egged on by his best pal Smiley (Manjot Singh), takes a shot at being a bar dancer at a nightclub owned by Saajan “Sona Bhai” Tiwari (Vijay Raaz). The money is good but is it good enough?
Smiley loves Sakina (Anusha Mishra). It is now this girl’s dad Abu Saleem’s (Paresh Rawal) turn to put his foot down and make a demand of his own. Get my son, Mohammed Shahrukh (Abhishek Banerjee), out of the deep funk that he has sunk into since his break-up with his girlfriend, he says to the ever-jovial Smiley, before you wed Sakina. Karam, impersonating Pooja, re-enters the scene pretending to be a shrink to help his friend out.
The comedy of errors and messy cross-connections between members of Abu Saleem’s messed-up family and Karam’s cash-strapped dad and supportive friend is marred by the writing (by the director and Naresh Kathooria). It never rises above the pedestrian. One does laugh at what is going on but for all the wrong reasons.
Some of the jokes that the characters crack ride on Sunny Deol/Gadar and Shahrukh Khan/Pathaan. They fall flat. But they are inoffensive, if not passable, but what isn’t acceptable at all is that Dream Girl 2 pokes fun at sexual orientation, gender fluidity, adoption and even depression (and the psychiatrist’s profession) in its quest for lowbrow comicality.
Although the hero of Dream Girl 2 masquerades as a woman so that he can make the money he needs to marry the girl he loves, the film has only two women. One is the hero’s girlfriend who breathes hot and cold as the male protagonist switches genders at the snap of a finger, frequently inviting trouble in the process. The other is a much-married older woman, Jumani (Seema Pahwa), who is in the middle of a messy divorce and desperately seeking a fourth hubby if that means jumping into a bigger muddle.
All the other women who should logically have been around or, at the very least, been accounted for are non-existent. Karam’s father is a widower and so is Sakina’s dad. And there is nary a mention of Pari’s mother. So, it is safe to presume that her dad, too, does not have a wife anymore. Wonder what the logic might be.
The audience might want look for a clue in a line that Karam/Pooja delivers in order to enlighten a bemused Smiley: Tujhe pata nahi kitna mushkil hota hai ladki banna (You have no idea how difficult it is to become a woman). He does not stop there. He ends the thought with Ussey bhi mushkil hota hota hai ladki hona (It is even mor difficult to be a woman). That is all the wokeness that Dream Girl 2 can muster.
By far the funniest of the characters in this uninspired comedy is a bank employee named Tiger Pandey (Ranjan Raj), who falls in love with Pooja’s voice on the phone (a la the lovers he/she had in 2019’s Dream Girl) and looks for her all across Agra and Mathura.
Unfortunately, he is the most dispensable of all the men hovering over Pooja. He appears only to be ridiculed left and right and then disappears only to reappear and be treated like a punching bag.
The hero of Dream Girl 2 has to make frequent visits to the toilet to get his oranges in place as he repeatedly transitions between genders. If only the makers, out to cash in on the success of 2019’s Dream Girl, knew their onions better, the meagre amount of juice that they extract from an idea that has been wrung thin would have been tangier, if nothing else.
To the credit of Ayushmann Khurrana, he never gives the impression that he is on a sinking ship. He does not hold back one bit even when the writing lets him down. Manjot Singh, when the script permits, soldiers on gamely and lends the lead actor some support.
But when an array of seasoned actors with enviable track records are reduced to merely going through the motions, you know you are watching a film that does not know where it is headed. We the audience figure out pretty quickly: this one is going nowhere.
Ayushmann Khurrana, Ananya Panday, Annu Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Vijay Raaz