Thanks to the huge demand on Netflix for this film, I had to wait almost six months to see "Dostana" (Friendship). And it was definitely worth it. Set in Miami, the Karan Johar-produced "Dostana" stars Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham as Sameer and Kunal, two strangers who happen to have answered the same ad for an apartment. Shown the door by an auntie who doesn't want her beautiful young niece Neha (played by Priyanka Chopra) living with two men (who will surely corrupt her!) they pretend to be gay, and the relieved auntie welcomes them to their new home. Trouble brews and antics begin when Sameer and Kunal both fall in love with Neha, and do everything they can to thwart her new romance with her boss (Bobby Deol in a guest appearance).
Warning: spoilers ahead.
Overall I thought the movie was excellent. It was young, fresh, slick and well acted. Abhishek proved once and for all that he's an excellent--maybe even brilliant--comedic actor. I agree with the majority of reviews which thought that the first half was far stronger than the second--most of the first half of the movie is spent setting up the "Three's Company" type relationship between Sameer, Kunal, and Neha, and has a couple of excellent song picturizations (Shut Up 'n Bounce, Jaane Kyun) as well as a hilarious dinner party sequence that you have to see to believe. Trust me, nothing tops watching the three leads dance to Beedi Jalaile with Boman Irani and a flamboyant blonde immigration official. Nothing.
The comedic aspect of the film is replaced in the second half with slower storylines involving Sameer's relationship with his mother (Kirron Kher) and Neha's frustration with her job and burgeoning feelings towards her boss, as well as the boys' roundabout scheme to break them up and win Neha for themselves. All ends well though as Sameer and Kunal realize they have to let Neha go, and the movie redeems itself with an upbeat, fun number (Desi Girl). Oh and John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan make out. ;)
Helllllloooooo John Abraham. Perfect way to kick off a film.
The boys run into a soldier, who's upset because his boyfriend has just been shipped off to Iraq. He tells Sam and Kunal they're "such a cute couple."
Sam gets an idea. "We'll pretend to be gay!" All thanks to this hotdog. (Get it? It looks like a penis. Karan Johar is a 4th grader.)
The boys make up an elaborate "jab we met" story. I think the dog collar was a nice touch. Very romantic.
Their whirlwind romance progresses. Their sense of fashion does not.
Kunal offers Sam some wise advice. This film is fun and servicey!
Greatest damn foreign extra in the history of Indian cinema. Someone get this man an award!
Abhimanu gets some misleading advice from Sam and Kunal about how to win Neha over.
Neha confronts the boys over their selfish scheming.
"How do we win over the girl we lied to about being gay and then whose relationship we almost ruined because we fell in love with her but now we're willing to let her go yet she's still mad at us? I know! We'll make out!" (A big gay kiss solves every problem.)
It worked! Group hug and a happy ending. :)
A lot of (mostly western) reviews have taken issue with the stereotyped representation of homosexuality that you see in Dostana. True, the film is fairly camp. Ok, it's totally camp. What else do you expect from Karan Johar (possibly the most well-known closeted homosexual in India)? This is the same guy who threw a few cutesy gay jokes into Kal Ho Na Ho. Remember Kantaben? No? Let me refresh your memory:
I think Dostana is pretty progressive for a country that just decriminalized homosexuality last year. Not only does the entire plot revolve around a gay couple (yes, I know, they're not really gay, but they're the only ones in the film who know that), but the couple is played by two of the biggest names in commerical Hindi cinema. Ten or twenty years ago an Abhishek Bachchan or a John Abraham wouldn't have touched this film with a ten foot pole. Now not only do they jump on it, the film was a big hit, and there's a sequel in the works. Their relationship may not have been depicted with as much realism or maturity as, say, the one between Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das in Fire, but there's something to be said for the 'what's the big deal?' reaction they get from most of the other characters in the film. Neha is totally accepting.
One review I've read has criticized Neha's response to their announcement (in which she shrugs her shoulders and says 'no big deal. To each his own. Personal choice, right?'), saying that the film was wrong to imply that homosexuality is a 'personal choice.' The criticism is valid but I think it misses the point, which is her complete lack of surprise or judgement of their confessed orientation. Her aunt reacts with a bit of shock but sees their sexual orientation as a positive, and really takes to them. Even Sameer's mother, who at first is so horrified to see her son in another man's arms that she faints in his doorway, comes to love Kunal and embraces him as part of her family (complete with a Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham-backed aarti).
I think the campy style works here. It's a Karan Johar film about faux-gays living in Miami. Everyone's fabulous. Boman Irani is a bitchy, queeny fashion magazine editor and he's fabulous. The flamboyant immigration officer who comes over to observe the couple (and cop a few feels of John Abraham--I mean, who wouldn't?) is fabulous. So what if the film fell apart a bit in the middle? All was forgiven as soon as I saw this:
The soundtrack was composed by one of my favorite teams, Vishal and Shekhar. It's an all-around solid effort--lots of fun songs to get up and dance to! Khabar Nahi and Kuch Kum didn't do much for me, but the remaining four tracks more than made up for it. Here are the highlights...
Shut Up 'n Bounce
The film opens with 'Shut Up 'n Bounce,' a catchy item number by Shilpa Shetty (sung by Sunidhi Chauhan, naturally) which introduces Kunal (John Abraham) and Sameer (Abhishek Bachchan). John does what he does best, which is stand around and look pretty. Shilpa does was she does best, which is dance around and look pretty. And Abhishek does what he does best, which is brood...and look pretty. I love the picturization--it's bright, flashy, and sets the tone for the Miami-based film. The first time I heard the song I wasn't wild about it, but it's grown on me a lot and now I blare it everywhere I go. I think you'll see why. :)
Sung by Vishal himself, Janne Kyun is fun, lighthearted, and probably my favorite song on the soundtrack. I also can't get over how fantastic the picturization is. It's a montage where we see the boys moving in, getting settled, and hanging out with Neha (who apparently can't hold her liquor!) around town. I absolutely adore Abhi's reactions to being made fun of by John and Priyanka while they're watching the movie, and his 'scared of the dark' routine had me completely cracking up. One word to sum up this song? Cute.
I don't think Priyanka could have enjoyed this more if she'd written it herself. A song all about how Priyanka is the hottest woman ever? Yeah, that sounds right up her alley. ;) This was "the" song of Dostana for quite some time, and is still probably its most popular.
Maa Da Ladla
This one trots out every sexual inuendo possible, but it's all smoothed over by the brilliant Kirron Kher. Plus lots of opportunity to ogle John and Abhi. ;) (Sorry if this one comes up with an ad, but the quality makes up for it.)
Maa Da Ladla--Remix
A fun remix to close out the film. Love the random Lord of the Rings reference at the beginning!