Dostana: A spectacular first half but nothing great overall

November 15, 2008

‘Dostana’ is a path-breaking Bollywood film alright. Maybe not for gay rights but certainly the number of times the word ‘gay’ has been used in a single film.

Indians hoping for a “Brokeback Mountain” may do well to stay away from this slapstick comedy about two men pretending to be a gay couple in order to lay hands on a top-notch condo overlooking the sun-kissed sands of Miami.

The opening shot of John Abraham emerging from the sea sets the tone for the film, with the camera lens lingering a tad too long on his bright yellow trunks.

The latest offering from filmmaker Karan Johar features the usual mélange of romance, snazzy designer wear, exotic locales and foot-tapping numbers.

But writer-director Tarun Mansukhani plays a masterstroke with the ‘gay’ plot, setting the stage for a hitherto unused treasure trove of witty one-liners and bawdy humour.

But why do the leading men pretend to be gay?

Well, photographer Kunal (John Abraham) joins male nurse Sam (Abhishek Bachchan) in the hunt for an apartment, destiny taking both to the abode of (Neha) Priyanka Chopra.

But Neha’s guardian aunt is on her guard against the two strapping young men. Until Sam has the brainwave of confessing they are gay — and therefore ideal flatmates for a single woman.

The only problem — both have fallen head-over-heels for the vivacious Neha, who works for Verve magazine.

The object of their attention remains oblivious, enjoying the company of her ‘gay’ best friends and arousing their jealousy when a third admirer drops in — Neha’s boss Abhimanyu (Bobby Deol).

The big question — will love triumph over friendship? Or will the ‘gay’ tag be a hindrance.

The first half of “Dostana” is a delight. Bachchan as Sam draws the most laughs, especially with his antics in the Venice flashback sequence he concocts when asked how he and Kunal became a couple.

Sam’s London-based mom, played by a feisty Kirron Kher, doesn’t take too kindly to the idea of her son being gay — and crosses the Atlantic to harangue him.

Also not to be missed is a cameo by Boman Irani, playing a flamboyantly gay editor of Verve magazine, swinging hips with Bachchan and Abraham to a sizzling item number originally picturised on Bipasha Basu.

Unfortunately, the magic of “Dostana” wears off in the second half. The dialogues lose their spontaneity as the film veers inexorably towards its predictable climax.

And even Bachchan, who so ably carried the first half on his shoulders, can’t salvage the film from a heady mix of item numbers and far-fetched scenarios.

Still, if all you want is a dose of non-stop entertainment, gay or not gay, “Dostana” is the movie for you.

There might be some debate on whether the gay characters or mannerisms portrayed in the film are stereotypical, but it’s the first time Bollywood’s leading men are even pretending to be homosexual — so it’s certainly one giant leap for India’s gay community.

17 comments

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it is the best movie u feel so relaxed and happy will going out of the theater and the best part is it leaves a smile on your face john was best in this film.

Posted by sharon | Report as abusive

a Hilarious comedy….Abhishek Bachchan’s Splendid acting deserves an applause.Though the movie revoles around such a controversial topic,the comedy hasbeen woven in such an awesome way that it doesnt really hurt sentiments of any particular segment.

Posted by Parimala | Report as abusive

Hi, i am Nauman from Karachi, Pakistan. Today, so many Bollywood movies are now allowed to be screened in Pakistan that almost every week a brand new Bollywood movie is premiered here. But the movie is banned here just before a day set for its release, due to so-called objectionable gay content of the movie and a petition is filed at the Lahore High Court against the movie.

Posted by Nauman | Report as abusive

superb movie after a long time such a good movie came everyone has acted well but among all abhishek was brillant he is really good in the movie go watch this movie u will really enjoy it

it’s a good movie.u should go and watch it.priyanka is looking very hot in the film.awesome comedy

Posted by manish | Report as abusive

i think its a great movie, u become a film critic in a newspaper rather than writing blogs…

Posted by ARCHIE | Report as abusive

I think the movie is very good. Its one of the very few monvies in the recent past which has made me laugh so much. Its too fast at times, but overall its really good.

Posted by Shraddha | Report as abusive

Biggest blockbuster in 2008.Best fun for ever.Aby baby is best.

Posted by Rashmi Ranjan Nayak | Report as abusive

Its realy a bad movie

Posted by ankur | Report as abusive

The movie was entertaining. They stretched the “gay” jokes a bit too much…but overall felt like it was worth the money to get a few laughs from what is otherwise a hectic, pressure cooker life. We watched this last night in the US and there were kids in the audience laughing away at the histrionics quite oblivious of the underlying “gay” concept.

Posted by rossman | Report as abusive

ya heard abt the movie.. big starz presence makes it a has-to-be-seen type. priyanka looking awsome… bt I hav not watched the movie yet…..

Posted by shivani | Report as abusive

The reviewer appears too stiff! the movie, although with a title borrowed from an old Hindi movie in true Bollywood tradition, is refreshingly good and suprisingly not too long. Songs are picturised very well and Priyanka neatly carries the show. Even the wooden John Abraham at times looks the part. Very enjoyable!

I think it was a okayyyy… movie. I don`t think it was superbly funny. Its just i think big movies get lots of publicity and lot of hipe is built on it for no reason. Yes there were moments in the movie which i think looked original but otherwise i have seen better indian comedies than this. I think even educated and well placed director, producer who has the potential to present something original are not even trying so how can you expect from newbieesss… I think bollywood is not only copying the ideas, stories from hollywood but nowadays even our dialouge deliveries, moves, behaviour are also copied from hollywood which does not suit bollywood stars. speciallyy abhishek…..Bollywood can be little bit more creative than this…. Seems like almost in every indian movie you don`t need to turn on your mind at all.

Posted by leo | Report as abusive

It is a sad testament to the lack of gay sensitivity in India if educated web users like those above cannot see the downside of the portrayal of gays in this film. I am not against making fun of groups and stereotypes, but that is healthy only in a society where that group is not disadvantaged. I am a Parsi and enjoy the hillarious over-the-top portrayal of Parsi stereotypes in Hindi films. But in a society like India’s where gay rights are in less than a nascent stage, this portrayal will only serve to set back any progress. The two decent things about the gay portrayal, to give the movie its due, were that the mother accepts them, and boman irani’s acting; Abhishek’s silly portrayal was unbecoming and in bad taste.

Posted by Kurush | Report as abusive

you seem to have forgotten… KHNH also portrayed a gay relationship btwn the SRK and SAK characters, albeit fictiously. in both movies, the male couple are pretending to be gay, either for humor or for benefit. in both films, at times the gags were humorous, and at other times the stereotypes left me cringing.

Posted by Reflections On Life | Report as abusive

Dostana was well comedy film. It entertain the audience very much. It is full time pass movie. The acting done by John and Abhishek was mind blowing.

Nice movie.. Worth for Money.. Pankaj R sharma Where r u?

Posted by Sallu... | Report as abusive