Dream Girl: It Would Be A Shame To Lose Ayushmann Khurrana To The 100-Crore Box Office

'Dream Girl' appears to be the first instance where Ayushmann Khurrana has taken on a role purely for the promise of the box office success.

With an estimated collection of Rs 44.57 crore over the weekend, Dream Girl is Ayushmann Khurrana’s biggest hit yet. It’s understandable why an actor like Khurrana would be able to sense the film’s ‘viability’, in spite of not endorsing everything in the film. In the past, Khurrana has seen the much-coveted 200-crore success with films like Badhaai Ho and Andhadhun,

And yet, one can’t help but be concerned about Khurrana’s susceptibility to the lure of being a part of the 200-crore club.

Raj Shaandilyaa’s Dream Girl is Ayushmann Khurrana’s most frivolous film till date. David Dhawan, Priyadarshan, are just some of the names that come to mind while categorising the film’s hilarious/agonising gags. This should have been a film that re-examines the concept of traditional  masculinity.  But Dream Girl’s climax is a cop-out. For some bizarre reason, Khurrana’s character drones on about loneliness in the age of social media. A force-fitted message like this would probably get points in a Salman Khan film, but we have come to expect more nuanced take on issues from an Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer. The Vicky Donor actor has raised the bar, by choosing films that have sensitively addressed slippery issues.

Dream Girl is most unlike any Ayushmann Khurrana film, considering how it treats its leading lady – Nushrat Barucha. Existing purely as a predicament in the life of Khurrana’s character, her character has fewer dimensions than her parts in a Luv Ranjan film (which is saying something). She sings, falls in love, makes soup for her boyfriend and meekly ‘accepts’ his secret. Is she not even slightly amused at the circumstances? Even in the make-believe world of a ‘heroine’, a role Karisma Kapoor and Raveena Tandon played in many Govinda films, does the character have any spunk so that she doesn’t dissolve into the film’s background? The actor can’t be blamed, as the treatment stems from how the director sees her.

In one of the film’s (relatively) tasteless moments, an overweight woman is shown to be pining over Khurrana. She is not a character, she is a punchline. At the shady call centre where Khurrana works, she sits at some distance from the cubicle allotted to him, and her reactions are positioned purely to get laughs. This is in blazing contrast to Khurrana’s breakout film, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, a genuinely funny comedy that questioned our attitude towards overweight women. However, this make sense when you realise that the director had a successful TV stint with Comedy Nights With Kapil.

Ayushmann is an actor who has carved his own genre of films, for which he has enjoyed middling to blockbuster success. He did so without compromising… until now. Dream Girl doesn’t accord respect to anyone other than Khurrana’s character, which hasn’t been the case in the other films. Everyone from the BFF (Manjot Singh), girlfriend (Barucha), father (Annu Kapoor)… they’re all such lazily written stereotypes, that they don’t even seem human beyond a point. Now think about Bhumi Pednekar’s characters from Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Shubh Mangal Savdhaan, or Yami Gautam’s character in Vicky Donor. Even Sanya Malhotra’s character in Badhaai Ho. They’re all given a voice (somewhat) to engage with all the challenges life throws upon them.

The larger point here is that Dream Girl appears to be the first instance where Khurrana has taken on a role purely for the promise of the box office success. Without caring too much for the consequences of the subliminal messaging of the film. It’s working wonders, of course, but one would genuinely hope that Khurrana doesn’t make this a habit. As proved by the last year’s two blockbusters, Khurrana doesn’t need to sacrifice nuance at the altar of the 200-crore box office.