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.