14 Sep 2019

Dream Girl review: Overdone yet decent, harmless attempt at comedy

Movies evolved from open-air stage dramas, and though that colourful culture is fast disappearing in India, there is always that one kind of stage comedy playing in some, charming time-wrapped small town. Yes, the ones where the men play the female parts too!

This festival comedy is usually bouncing with been-there-heard-that jokes that mass audiences are guaranteed to laugh at - they digest its largely naughty humour (plus some sanitized below-the-belt jokes).The 'punch' lines just keep coming and coming, so there is no time to ponder on the illogical parts. The story merely serves as a prop for the contrived situations, there may be a whiff of a social message, before the rushed, convenient end.

Dream Girl is exactly that kind of small town funny stage play magnified and pushed up with a flood of punch lines rushing through the loosely bound story, a superb ensemble cast and exciting central premise. The stage play mode adds to the film's laughter-inducing advantages but also limits Dream Girl to a passable comedy movie and nothing more.

Quirky ideas, OK execution
In yet another, now increasingly familiar Hindi movie small town setting, Karamveer (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a actor specially picked out to play female roles in mythological plays. Karamveer's rendition of the female voice makes him a respected, popular name in his locality. Meanwhile, he is unable to find a job until destiny comes knocking in the form of a sleazy call center opportunity. The comedy of errors and undue attractions that follow make up the rest of the plot.

Raaj Shaandilyaa, credited for all the risque and sometimes funny jokes on Sony TV's Comedy Circus and the popular weekend shows featuring comedian Kapil Sharma, makes his directorial debut here. He lets out the same tried and tested formula and thankfully most jokes work, despite the plastic, boxed story line with easily resolved loopholes and a non-happening climax. 

Dream Girl cast saves the day
Ayushmann is first-rate as Karamveer, and his female-voice rendition is a class act. His already impressive exuberant acting talent keeps getting better. His Vicky Donor partner-in-crime, the underrated Annu Kapoor pulls off a underwritten, unconvincing father act with practiced, honed craft.

Nushrat Bharucha does a spirited act despite the brief 'mandatory heroine' role. Manjot Singh (Fukrey, Fukrey Returns) puts in a good sporting  performance as the hero's Punjabi friend, as does Abhishek Banerjee, so good in Stree.

The brilliant Vijay Raaz cracks his poetic policeman part with relative ease, while the talented Rajesh Sharma is saddled with a underwritten villainous part that doesn't register. Popular web series regular Nidhi Bisht is given a half-baked (supposedly) 'lesbian' track, the writers are to blame for not going bold for laughs here.

Dream Girl review 
So if you like the kind of jokes that go into the skit-based anything goes format of The Kapil Sharma Show, there are, to be fair, a lot of better, genuinely hilarious jokes here and the laughter keeps coming.Go for Ayushmann's amazing, balanced act and some great laughs.

Dream Girl is not a class act, but a harmless, rushed comedy that is an OK 'time-pass' watch at best and a potential comedy blockbuster of the season, despite its many faults.

7 Sep 2019

Chhichhore review: Relevant message lost in uneven comedy-drama mashup

This has been a month of 'inspirations' at the movies, and Nitesh 'Dangal' Tiwari's Chhichhore has a long 3 Idiots shadow looming over with its themes of student suicides, why life is more than just success & failure and a how a real loser is one who doesn't fight for oneself. Also featuring 50 shades of Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar and Taare Zameen Par

The scenes just doesn't add up as compellingly, lacking the clear, entertaining communication that makes 3 Idiots a much-loved repeat watch. The flashback boys hostel comedy scenes induce many great laughs, everything else is overdone and unconvincing. 

An out an out irreverent college comedy without any social messages could have made a wild mad ride of Chhichhore but that is not to be. The temptation to make every Hindi movie out there socially relevant seems too much to ignore nowadays.         

That familiar feeling   
There is an engineering college, recently joined by Annirudh (Sushant Singh Rajput). He is like any other college student, not like the curious, rebellious Ranchodhdas Chanchad.  

Instead of an overpowering 'Virus' dean we have a rich, rowdy student Raggie (Prateik Babbar) as the typical Hindi film college villain (50 shades of Deepak Tijori?), a 'loser' boys hostel block (the much-repeated replaced term for 'idiots'), a Kareena-like love interest Maya (Shraddha Kapoor), an inter-hostel sports competition and a surprising  anti-climax that doesn't get through.        

Porn-crazy 'Sexa' (Varun Sharma), angry cigarette-addict Derek (Tahir Raj Basin), Acid (Naveen Polishetty) and Bevda (Saharsh Kumar Shukla) are characters mostly played for laughs, so they don't get through as endearingly like Farhan and Raju.

The present day student suicide track is contrived and the bad middle-age make up and hairdo's doesn't help the dull reunion track. 

The anti-climax     
"Failure is just a part of life and needs to be accepted as willingly as success," is an admirable message to get across but the movie makers don't make the point well enough. They resort to applause and respect from the victors to put the point across. They totally miss the potential epilogue that the lead characters get rid of their addictions and find themselves in the process.  

This is way, way off the mark and brings down the entire premise of Chhichhore crashing down. By the end credits, there is no feeling of happy culmination or of a fun journey, just a dull numbness. 

Spirited performances 
The performances are bright though, held down by one-track writing and caricaturing. Sushant Singh Rajput is good as the youthful, exuberant college boy, as is Shraddha Kapoor as Maya. Varun Sharma rules the comic scenes with the usual crybaby act, while the talented Naveen Polishetty doesn't get any layers, there is no backstory for his foul-mouthed act. Tushar Pandey as the helpless Sundar/Mummy stands out. 

Chhichhore review 
Many male school students were part of the screening we went to and they enjoyed the movie's 'strictly boys humour' all through. That's exactly how the movie registers.

Chhichhore doesn't rise above been a damn funny boys hostel comedy, making it a decent watch at the cinemas.