Ayushmann Khurrana does a smashing job of cross-dressing. That’s the best that can be said about Dream Girl 2, the spiritual successor of 2019’s surprise box-office hit Dream Girl, also starring Ayushmann.
The premise remains the same, mostly. Ayushmann plays Karamveer Singh, who doesn’t have a job and does item numbers at jagrans (!). He has no money and his father Jagjit (Annu Kapoor) has taken loans from almost everyone and is struggling to pay them back (but doesn’t seem too concerned about it). Karamveer is in love with Pari (Ananya Panday), a lawyer whose father — like any decent father would — charges Karam with the responsibility of paying off his father’s loans, getting a job and having at least a few lakhs of rupees in his bank account before he can marry Pari. A desperate Karam, who aces faking the female voice (what the first film was about), takes it a step further and dons on the identity of Pooja to land a job as a bar dancer. What follows is an absolute disaster.
You can’t even justify Dream Girl 2, directed once again by Raaj Shaandilyaa, as a ‘no-brainer’ entertainer because it doesn’t just expect to leave your brain behind, it requires you to not have any. What could have easily been a respectable film about the difficulties of becoming a woman (there is one line in the film to acknowledge this) turns into a farce of epic proportions where women are constantly shamed for everything. They are slut shamed, fat shamed and age shamed with abandon, each dialogue being passed off as a witty one-liner meant to be laughed at. No, I am not on a high horse; I am not even on a step stool as far as this film is concerned.
I wasn’t laughing when a middle-aged woman was addressed as ‘flop picture ka post-interval’. Or when the owner of the dance bar says he has ‘opened the cap of every bottle, except that of Pooja’. Or when depression is called a ‘rich man’s disease’ or when a Babaji is clearly abusing his power over women. Or when sexual identity is used as a punchline. A gay character feels sexual stirrings for Pooja which must have caused some identity crisis, but it is used just as a gag. No wonder the disclaimer at the beginning of the film was as long as it was!
Ayushmann cross-dresses like a champ, getting the mannerisms, even when dramatised for comedic effect, right. He is at his best as Pooja when he is dancing to songs, of which there are plenty and none memorable, with enviable lachkas, matkas and thumkas. The rest of the talented supporting cast — Paresh Rawal, Annu Kapoor, Vijay Raaz, Rajpal Yadav and Abhishek Banerjee — are absolutely wasted with subpar writing that focuses on a joke a minute without bothering to build in a narrative, let’s not even talk about character development. Ananya Panday has very little to do other than pout and mangle the Hindi dialect.
Even the climax lets you down. If the love of your life rushes to get married a day after she sees you in an embrace with another woman, instead of confronting you with it, then you don’t go and dance at her wedding to show how much you love her and definitely don’t take her back the minute she says sorry like she wasn’t about to leave you hanging for the rest of your life. And when you are owning up to duping people, you don’t end up resting the blame on everyone but yourself.
Dream Girl 2 sets you back by a decade or two and it is horrifying to think of the positive reinforcement that Ayushmann Khurrana being part of such a film will give to bigotry that infects our society.