Dostana—the Review

54 Comments

To all you desi professionals who are in varying stages of your Green card proecessing for years on end and more importantly those who are contemplating going through the process, I bear happy tidings.

According to the big Bollywood release of the week “Dostana”, you could get your residency in one year.

Yep you heard that right.

Only thing, you have to be in a gay relationship.

The US for some unknown reason is actively seeking to give gay people citizenship, leaving the long and “straight” path for the straight people.  ( I have been told that more details of this legislation can be obtained by watching the great immigrant-basher Lou Dobb’s special: “Broken Borders: Illegal entry through the backdoor in the south” on CNN)

Now for some it might seem strange that even after things like passing of Proposition Eight by public vote in the most liberal of states –California (Proposition Eight essentially outlaws same sex marriages) and the outright homophobia- immigrantophobia which is the staple of conservative talk radio that the country would be proactively seeking foreign gay couples, in the process giving new meaning to “Give me your tired, your poor, your “huddled” masses’.

But I am sure the good people behind Dostana wouldn’t have told us this if they had not done their research.

And if proof be needed that they did not pull this out of their..mm…asses, “Dostana” also tells us the exact administrative process behind this fast track to residency. Evidently you go to the requisite authorities, stand in a separate line for gay people and put in your application after which an official from the government drops into your apartment to check whether your application is fraudulent. Or in other words, to check if you are actually a gay couple or just a bunch of desi dudes sharing an apartment and washing their underwear together in the same laundry load to save quarters. I won’t give anything away here but as per what was shown in “Dostana”, I would say this is one thing you don’t want to get into without some solid le”gay”l representation.

One of the ways in which you are guaranteed not to like “Dostana”( the name possibly a homage to India’s iconic gay magazine Bombay Dost) is if you to try to find believability or story or character development. Or for that matter you try to locate where exactly on the INS website is written the above immigration preference for homosexual couples. That exercise would be as futile and self-defeating as trying to analyze “Sajaan Chale Sasuraal” or to deliberate as to who exactly is Bruce Li ki behen Choos Li? Once you can temporarily suspend finer aesthetic qualities at the door , “Dostana” [which incidentally bears some thematic resemblance to “Three’s a Company”, an 80s sitcom where a hyper-horny man moves into an apartment with girls by convincing the landlord he is gay] is enjoyable having several laugh-out-loud moments especially when the director spoofs the cliched conventions of the Johar-Chopra movies with the love story framed in the exotic European locales and the done-to-death sentimental sequence of the mother-in-law receiving the new bride, all however with a delicious gay twist. Sure the movie drags at times, dabbles in maudlin sentimentality, moves towards a predictable climax but just when you think that things are getting out of control, a humorous exchange, a bit of comic timing from Abhishek Bachchan (who along with Kiron Kher are the best things going for the movie) or Bobby Deol’s hair, which looked like it had been woven by the same guys who did Sunny‘s, comes in and saves the day.

The other way to ruin the “Dostana” experience is to get your political correctness condom on. Is the humor off-color? Sometimes. But to call it, as Raja Sen did in his Rediff review “most hideously insensitive things to come out of Bollywood in a long while” is so grossly overstating the case that one wonders whether Mr. Sen and I were watching the same movie. First of all to compare “Dostana” to the standard portrayal of homosexuals in Hindi movies as ugly predators (“Kya main aap ka pent khol sakta hoon“) or lusty horndogs like Inspector Sher Singh of Mast Kalander [played by who else but Shakti Kapoor who tries to pick-up the effeminate Pinkoo (played by Anupam Kher) with the immortal (one of my favorites) line :” Mera koi nasha naheen. Na juye da. Na sharaab da. [Pause for effect] Na ladki da.” (I have no vices–not gambling. Not alcohol. And definitely not women)] betrays a total lack of perspective. Secondly, even though the Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham characters are pretending to be gay, they do not act effeminate or “weird” and come off naturally, as normal human beings, in their scenes with Priyanka Chopra. The only exception, I remember, is when Abhishek Bachchan is making up this story of how he and John Abraham met and fell in love in Venice. This is when Abhishek is shown acting “girlie”, But this is not so much a depiction of the supposed effeteness of gay men but of the overall hyper lovey-doveyness of the cliched Hindi romance “boy-meets-girl” formula which is being spoofed. And finally the movie, despite its fluff and overall brainlessness, does an admirable job of bringing out a traditional mother’s reaction after her son “comes out” —from anger, denial, grief to hopefully a genuine though somewhat clueless acceptance.

And so in conclusion if you can just put your “Govinda” hat on and leave overt political correctness at the door, then “Dostana” just might be worth your while.

It was worth mine.

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54 thoughts on “Dostana—the Review

  1. I had no issues with the sensitivity or the potrayal. After all, they never promised to change the perception of gays.
    Some scenes were genuinely funny, but the movie just dragged on into the predictable after suddenly introducing the concepts of romance and fraandship when everything was going fine.

  2. I expected to bash the movie but you didn’t.. anyway, I would say I am a Abhishek bacchan fan ‘now’. I always liked Kiran Kher.

  3. Pingback: Dostana—the Review | hindi movie review

  4. @GB: I haven’t seen the movie but I would like to know who among John & AB is TOP/Dominant & who is BOTTOM/submissive?

    @Savita Bhabhi: Are you a GILLETTE BLADE? I may help you.

  5. Thank God Abhishek and John are not effeminate. I was actually thinking who, if not both, of them would be acting effeminate. And now I wonder, how would your review of Fashion sound, with every designed being gay and every gay being effeminate.

    And looks like you liked an otherwise mediocre movie. Great going great bong!

  6. I entirely agree. Mindless time-pass, but slicker, occasionally funnier and better produced than other mindless time-pass from Bollywood.

    I never thought I’d see the day when P. Chopra could look sexy (as distinct from wholesome pretty) but she came close in this film. Poor thing, she just got lost in the incandescent glare of John’s bronzer.

    Downer – Bobby Deol is a sweet guy, but couldn’t they have got a real live human being for the role he played? He looked like he was on sabbatical from “Night of the Living Dead”, only all sweetened up on Quaaludes.

    J.A.P.

  7. I watched the movie and liked it. It does have this thing of ‘leave your brains aside and watch the movie’ but still, it wasn’t all that bad.

    I have read several reviews of movies by greatbong, and now I somehow, always skip to the last line to see whether you liked the movie or not. Somehow, with so many figures of speech, everything except the last line is not conclusive whether you really liked the movie, ki ‘just le rahe ho’ 😉

  8. I haven’t seen the movie too. Was wondering what to expect with John beating Prichops in skin show all over the promos.
    Here, Google ad wants us to play Max New York Life’s “Zyada ka Irada”…
    I am still to determine my reasons for watching this movie…

  9. But more than that Inspector and Pinkoo episode, the greatest effeminate dialogue was delievered by Chutiya (Shakti Kapoor) on Potey (Mohan Joshi)’s “Nanhe Munne ki nunni..” in epic Gunda – “Oui ma, Nunni!” Its unbeatable.

  10. and how can you forget the verse “Bulla ka naam leke, tune khada kar diya hai mera” – Lambu Atta, exemplifying the art of subtle representation of sensitive topic like Homosexuality. The master director shows ages ago that Gay doesn’t specifically mean effeminate and yes, effeminates can be non homosexual – Chutiya – “Kya ijjat lootna buri baat hoti hai?”. A master director, a visionary – Kanti Shah of course.

  11. haven’t seen the movie – but I remember there was a french movie (the Closet) had Gerard Depardieu pretending to be gay so that he could retain his job in a condom factory (by claiming discrimination). vairy funny.

  12. Dostana is an entertainer.Period.

    If you want to slice and dice for it s relaity check – then you should be watching Shyam Benegal or Mrinal Sen moives – which vie for perfection in attention to detail and artistic brilliance.

    Dostana does not claim anything of that sort – KISS – keep it simple and stupid.It’s ok to enjoy a silly but funny movie form time to time.I am sure as good a movie as “Wednesday” was, you would not have surely come out of the hall laughing at Anupam Kher’s performance right ? that movie deserved a serious look and got credit accordingly.
    Dostana deserves a lighter perspective.Simple.

    Just a small note for all folks critiquing a movie – please remember commenting and making a movie are vastly different situations.So a little sensitivity is always a good thing to have while commenting.

  13. @Aayan….”please remember commenting and making a movie are vastly different situations”
    by that logic..wht do u say abt sawariyas and kabhi na kabhis and OSOs ???

  14. @GB: Well, I saw ads (top right) about a shopping site claiming to sell objectionable (and impossible, at least over the web) things. There were more of them but seem to have disappeared now. SOB Murphy! 😐

  15. Sam and Kunal reminded me of Jai & Viru.

    Jack & Jill went up the hill
    To reproduce a daughter
    Jill fell down
    And broke her crown
    And Jack came down with Walter

    @Savita Bhabhi:I understand your desperation but times have changed. I wish I had a girlfriend who is lesbian.

  16. Hey, even Ashok Row Kavi seems to think the film is “a foot in the door” for gay people being given dignified portrayals in Hindi films. What’s Raja Sen’s problem?

  17. To watch or not to watch – that is the question, particularly if you had Mexican chillies the previous night. Watching online might not be an option- specially if the video looks like it has been excavated from Mohenjo daro ruins. Let’s stick to the utilitarian view of decision making- for ‘the greater good’. I’ll probably accede to accompany one of my gal pals who had a messy break-up recently, to help her realize that there are still horny men out there to get your ass, pretending to be gay. What’s hotter than a shirtless John Abraham? A shirtless John Abraham trying hard to be gay in a not-so-convincing way. And yeah, that residency permit thing should really be one of Obama’s policies to ensure life long loyalty of immigrant homosexuals to the Democrats. The only catch is – the demographies.

  18. Just saw the movies yesterday, after two weeks of nagging by my wife, and absolutely hated the movie. Very irritating and in no way comparable to the govinda/david dhawan movies of yore.
    Seems to be karan johar’s attempt at making homosexuality more acceptable in india.

  19. Hated the movie…ugh.. character artists (Boman Irani, Sushmita Mukherjee and Kiron Kher)are far better than the main cast… Jon and Abhishek disappoint…Priyanka can never disappoint me because I never have any expectations from her in the first place… Bobby Deol is the only person who looks completely gay, even without trying it… few laughs.. mostly a pain to watch… Karan Johar should retire.

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