Review - Dostana: Mockery with pretentious style

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
quick review:

With friends like these who needs enemies? A few laughs set aside, this one has a shallow attitude towards friendship, parenting, love and of course gay people.

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Mental check-list while walking in the theater to neutralize skepticism created by the promos - 10...9... It's Dharma productions - have a nagging feeling that they must have caught the violently contagious disease that's in the air these days called self-referencing. So make peace with Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai whenever they show up. 8...7...6... You'll be entering into the lives of super-happy, super-rich people - they even express anger with a smile. Don't be jealous of them. Breathe, don't fume. 5...4... Expect tasteless gay jokes - they exist to test your tolerance, this is what those meditation courses were meant for. 3...2...1... Don't complain about songs being random, it's on Miami beaches for goodness sake, try and understand, they need some excuse to show those beautiful ladies off... ...Boom... Not a moment wasted...some random song with digitally enhanced voices and extra blue skies. But it also has Shilpa Shetty literally all over both Abhishek Bachchan (Sam) and John Abraham (Kunal). Just so no one can complain. All the boys in the house need a gorgeous, barely-clad woman to drool over. And girls can take their pick - John 'Perfect V' Abraham just after a swim on the beach or the casually dressed Abhishek nodding his head in style.

Though most of the apprehensions mentioned above were appropriately done justice to, a lot of the mental preparation seemed to have worked. Because I was pleasantly surprised to hear myself laugh at regular intervals - Thanks to the situations created and some brilliant timing by Abhishek Bachchan. However, John is back to being a part of the furniture as far as acting goes.

Sure the jokes were intended to take advantage of the way the audience laughs at gay people. But, the situations they were places in made it funny. No credit to the dialogues though. Their only function was to remind us that they are cool enough to use the word 'gay' openly - every 10th minute. Anyway, like all good things, the laughter soon dried up too, largely due to repetition. And stop using the 'brother from another mother' line already!

It is amazing how a simple, sweet concept can be completely ruined by keeping the narrative absolutely flat. The superficial conflict is treated ever so lightly that you can't let the superfluous drama get you involved. Sam and Kunal both get annoyed, anxious, jealous, apologetic and turn into perfect arseholes (what else can people who use Taare Zameen Par to manipulate children be called?) at the exact same time. Was one character at conception stage split into two to give it the gay angle? And of course there's no necessity to show a single bonding moment between the males, they are after all so similar.

Neha (Priyanka Chopra) does have a shade more detailed character. But even those details seem to be just there as tokens rather than serving an arc. Yet, Priyanka sincerely expresses whatever Neha is going through. This is her fourth movie this year and yet she brings freshness to the screen. There's something superbly charming and warm about her and the way she carries herself. Can't blame her if Neha's feelings don't have a logical flow to them or if one moment all she cares about is her job and soon enough it barely matters.

Fluidity is in general lacking around here. I'm not talking about characters transforming by a preachy one-liner (remember the deep breathing exercises before the show?). It’s the absence of even that one-liner. I'll thank the climax for all the eye exercises it helped me with - so much eye-rolling I haven't done in a long long time.

The focus is on mockery here. Mockery of how the gay behave and of how they are perceived too. Mockery of how parents react when they know their child is homosexual and of how blinding love can really be. A movie on relationships and friendships, yeah right! Not this one.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Loads of skin-show. And a lip-lock.
  • Concept: Homosexuality; People shamelessly lying their way into situations and playing cute to find a way out.
  • General Look and Feel: Peppy, bright - in the Karan Johar way.

Dostana - Movie Details

Dostana - Trailer

Comments (16)

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Aditya Kuber:

Oh boy. What a waste of some crores. And now I'm going to have to endure this tonight. Maybe it would be a good idea to take a book and torch along? Or maybe an MP3 player. Or a portable movie player... I have a book... anyone care to lend the others?

urmilesh:

I think it is about time that you added a sub-section highlighting the inspirations of a director. I watched Dostana yesterday and was somewhat angry to see that a majority of scenes (setup/plot etc.) have been lifted straight from Englist sitcoms (primarily FRIENDS) and movies (Three to Tango, I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry). Almost made me regret my decision to go watch it.

meetu:

Huahahahaha Aditya, *evil grin* serves you right for buying those tickets before checking here. Like I said, with friends who don't read wogma, who needs enemies :P

Thanks Sumeet! :)

Great idea urmilesh, I was wondering whether there was a demand for that. Will certainly work on that now that I know there's interest. Yes, I noticed a few gags from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. The others I haven't seen yet.

Dostana reviews at Blogbharti:

[...] Meetu says “watch it if you have nothing better to do” With friends like these who needs enemies? [...]

meetu:

Seaweed, I don't think the movie had any agenda or social message to pass on. If it did, not all non-pretending gays would have been shown as effeminate. It might not have made direct jokes but such things clarify the intention.

Dostana and Gays | DesiPundit:

[...] finally Meetu puts it all together by pointing out the blandness of the storyline and ending with, Fluidity is in [...]

neha:

That bit with TZP thrown in really pissed me off.

meetu:

neha, i was actually shocked!

Crazy Sam:
Crazy Sam:

JM, I have no problem with the movie Dostana. Agreed it is a comedy, and I have also stated in my post why Sameer and Kunal tried to act effeminate and I'm really cool with all that. In fact, I was laughing my ass off during those scenes. I'm just pissed off by the way Karan is trying to parade that this movie doesn't shy to talk about gays without stereotyping them. And did you see even one scene like that in the movie?

meetu:

JM, Crazy Sam and gaysforever - thanks a ton for the discussion here!

I strongly recommend Almodovar's movies too on alternate sexuality! "All about my mother" - is awesome!

meetu:

Good to see you here, Longtime Friend! We can drool over John's physique together now! :)

I think I have as much problem with sardar/blonde jokes. Oh well...

And I don't know if this is a step in the right direction. If all through most of the movie gay people were treated as if they are suffering from a contagious disease of some sort. That the mom accepts her son's sexuality, albeit false, is sort-of a step in the right direction. Because it's not really that easy for parents and I don't see "maa da ladla bigad gaya" as acceptance "_

TimELiebe:

Geez, Meetu - we liked it a lot! I'd avoided seeing DOSTANA for the longest time having suffered through "straight guys pretending to be gay to gain some advantage" like the THREE'S COMPANY television series, an obscure Vietnam War comedy THE GAY DECEIVERS, and I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY. I was sure I'd seen this before, and - well, not done better, but with a similar Straight Guy's Gay Panic.

Imagine my surprise that, while yes there was plenty of Gay Panic humor, there was also a much stronger Gay Tolerance message in DOSTANA than in any of the US equivalents! I also liked that Sam and Kunal were as concerned with not destroying their friendship with Neha as getting her into bed - and I confess, the ending didn't go where I expected it to, and I liked that. I think it's probably a better Indian movie for gay rights than a lot of movies made for that purpose, because at the end of it (even though the Sam and Kunal keep saying they're not gay!) everybody in the movie accepts that it wouldn't really matter to them if they were.

Obviously, US Immigration doesn't work at all the way it's presented in the movie (they'd be trying harder to eject gay couples than make it easier for them to become legal residents), and given our gay masala-hating housekeeper just came back from a couple weeks' job in Florida, the idea of Miami as a hotbed of gay tolerance made him snort with derision! (The timing was too perfect - he was ranting about how homophobic Florida was, and we'd seen DOSTANA the night before....)

I also didn't know there were that many desi in Miami - unlike Syracuse, NY where I live now. We've got such a large Southern Asian Professional Class population an old theatre reopened a couple years back just to show classic Indian movies - I'd love to see a masala set here. ;)

meetu:

@TimELiebe oh well, and yet again, to each his own. A Hindi film set in Syracuse, that will be really interesting :D

TimELiebe:

blockquote>A Hindi film set in Syracuse, that will be really interesting :D

I'd love to see it, Meetu - heck, I'd love to act in it, to prove that not all Westerners in Indian movies are incapable of acting their way out of a wet paper bag! ;)

meetu:

@TimEliebe ha ha ha ha ha

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