Friday, November 14, 2008



Dostana scores a number of firsts. One being set entirely in Miami, with the glorious shots of golden beaches and opportunities for the cast to show off their toned bodies (for the first few minutes, John Abraham seemed too eager to get rid of his singlet every few minutes). And the other first scored was that this is the first Bollywood film to have a focus on a gay relationship, albeit a faked one, between its two leading men. For an industry that's still sans on-screen sex, where kisses still bring upon rage, and nudity a no-no, is it any wonder why this premise, together with its A-list stars, will draw in the crowds without a doubt?

Some 4 years ago, Abhishek Bachchan was busy chasing John Abraham as hero and villain in the action-adventure Dhoom. In between they only shared credits in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, and it is not until now that the two alpha-males get put together in the same film, share plenty of screen time together, and the joke's clearly on their effeminate behaviour and gay relationship. Imagine two muscular jocks having to turn girly at a wink of an eye, and that itself sets up a tsunami of laughs in plenty of situational gags that will leave you genuinely in stitches.

I shudder to imagine how real gays would, or would not take offense at the portrayal here, given that most of the time, gayness is equated with being hip and in with modern culture, which I think some would clearly dispute. Nonetheless it is the attempts at debunking the myths and prejudice that surrounds the condition that warrants some merits at least, even though it's still an outright comedy, and I guess all could be forgiven since there are two eye-candy male leads to serve up some compensation.

At first one would imagine a plot that would be similar to I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, given two obviously straight men having to pose as a gay couple to further their own objectives, which of course runs contrary to any romantic notions they have for the opposite sex. Here, Sameer (Bachchan) and Kunal (Abraham) start off as two strangers in Miami who bump into each other after their individual one night stands (with opposite members of the sex of course), but thereafter find themselves eyeing the same piece of affordable swanky rental apartment, which comes with a crucial string attached - no guys, because the occupant is a lady (Chopra) whose aunt refuses to let tongues wag should her housemates be two hunks.

So you know the drill, faced with time constraints and the prospect of staying with Neha the hot chick, both guys pretend they are gays, thus setting in motion plenty of comedy as they have to maintain their cover 24x7, and to make matters worse, have to cement their relationship legally as a means to keep Kunal from being deported. And if that's not all, each of them still harbours the thought of hooking up with Neha, which of course poses a challenge given their known "status". One of the best scenes in the movie involves almost everyone, from mothers to bosses to even an immigration officer who converge in their apartment in a free for all, where bluff goes against bluff, and the two chaps have to be at their best to satisfy the law, as well as to stave off a very interested magazine editor. I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard and loud.

But of course things slow down a little in the second half of the film when Neha's new boss (Bobby Deol) comes into the picture to woo Neha, which Sameer and Kunal try to fend off with their wits in what would be co-opetition at its very best. Scheming and conniving all the way, you'd come to expect lies becoming bigger lies, with questionable methods being put into use in order to drive the new competition away. Which brings it quite nicely to an ending that I guess is a fair outcome.

Dostana speaks of friendship, and sometimes, relations are best left at that given the numerous enjoyable moments everyone shares, without complicating matters. Dostana, despite its theme, still plays out to be an enjoyable, entertaining movie brought to life by its excellent casting. Songs and dances were pretty much standard fare, save for that convergent scene which I mentioned was the highlight of the film. Do look out too for the very cheeky wordings on the T-shirts that both Bachchan and Abraham don.

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