Dostana Hindi Movie Review
This is a one of those mindless comedies which would have been more entertaining if it hadn't been for the insensitive and stereotypical portrayal of gays. The producers have gone on record saying that it is just a comedy and that the subject has been handled sensitively but this is debatable.
What's it about?
This movie is not a re-make of the 1980 film Dostana, starring Amitabh Bachchan, but a new story by writer director Tarun Mansukhani. In a nutshell, it is about two guys and a girl and is set in Miami. Right at the start of the movie Sam (Abhishek Bachchan) and Kunal (John Abraham) put on an act of being gays - all to get to share an apartment with beautiful Neha (Priyanka Chopra). The movie is centered on the comic situations which arise because of this pretense. Sure, there are a lot of laughs, and at times the theatre was convulsed with laughter but it was more to do with the exaggerated portrayal of "gay mannerisms" by the popular stars, Abhishek and John.
Some have accused Dostana of being similar to a 2007 Hollywood comedy called "I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry" starring Adam Sandler because there too two guys pretend to be gay and the situation gets sticky because of a pretty girl. However Dostana's story deviates in the actual details. Also in Chuck and Larry, the two lead characters, who themselves were used to making fun of gays, realise how much it hurts when the shoe is on their own foot. This is not shown in Dostana.
The second half of Dostana is more serious and why wouldn't it be when two guys with raging hormones live with a beautiful girl in the same apartment but are unable to express their real feelings? Unfortunately for them, just as they are wondering whether to spill the beans, a rival in the form of Abhimanyu (Bobby Deol) appears. There is some fake emotion and tears which leave one unmoved. Somehow one is just not convinced that Sam and Kunal have any real feelings for Neha. In fact their behavior is so bad that if this wasn't a comedy they could well be the villains.
The movie is long, over two and a half hours, and the poor editing is visible throughout the movie.
The characters and actors
John Abraham doesn't move his face muscles much, but not to worry as he is good at moving other body parts. Abhishek's acting is better and his comic timing good. Priyanka is quite alright in the last scenes but in most of the time all she had to do was to wear revealing outfits, pout and look pretty. Shilpa Shetty, who does a song and dance routine at the start of the movie, is a treat to watch. Boman Irani does an exaggerated gay act and there are some other exaggerated characters like Kirron Kher who plays Sam's mother and Sushmita Mukherjee who plays Neha's aunt. Kher does a wailing and screaming act Bollywood style, and Mukherjee does a great hamming job of an ageing aunty who imagines she is hot.
What was disappointing was that the deep friendship between the three characters didn't come through. Sure, there is camaraderie between Sam and Kunal, but as the movie progresses they are supposed to become close friends, and this is what is unconvincing. Even the friendship between them and Neha doesn't ring true. This isn't surprising because the technique the director used to portray it wasn't the right one. What he did was whiz through several minutes of screen time in which the three go around town shopping and having fun, and set it all to music to show the passage of time. One cannot help remembering Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (particularly as the movie was mentioned by the characters) where the close friendship between Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) and Anjali (Kajol) comes across so well.
There were some lovey dovey scenes between Abhishek and John in the movie and the shock value of this is supposed to be a reason for audiences to want to watch this movie. Well, they are actors and so it wasn't shocking. And while it is creditable that they agreed to do the scenes, one has to keep in mind that they did it while making fun of gay-ness.
Anything good about the movie?
Well, the star cast is the big attraction and there are a lot of laughs in the movie, particularly in the first half. But I don't know whether gays will find it funny. The music is average. This movie is worth seeing either/or you have nothing to do, like the actors concerned, like mindless comedies, are curious to see what Karan Johar (producer) has to say about gays, and want to make up your own mind as to whether gays are portrayed sensitively or not.