Clearly, his over-the-top style is influenced by father David Dhawan's work, but more evolved. That's the least we expect of young blood.
So our two protagonists start their journey from getting laid off to making a living getting laid. Akshay and John play school buddies-turned-roomies, now making a living in the UK. One's a hot-shot MBA; the other a security guard. They lose their jobs pretty much at the same time.
Afraid of losing his "high-maintenance" girlfriend (Deepika), John's character doesn't tell her about his unemployment. Meanwhile, Akshay's Jignesh has to find a job pronto to get custody of an impish tot.
Under duress, the two agree to turn male escorts for a company called Desi Boyz. They decide to make rules to make themselves feel better. First: they agree that this will be a part-time investment for a normal life ahead. Second: they come up with a 'no sex' clause. But do they stick to the plans?
Now, a story that has its heroes as male escorts is a sticky subject for a Hindi film. There is the danger of getting moralistic about the women employing their services, or chances that it'll be a loud body-show. But Dhawan keeps it all under control. He presents the profession matter-of-factly, even humorously, and the female client angle with sensitivity.
Comparisons with The Full Monty are inevitable, but futile. Here, the audacious subject is nicely balanced with all things Bollywood – the romance, friendship, emotional angle and songs.
The idea is to rock the boat a little, not capsize it.
The Dhawans were upset when Desi Boyz was awarded the Adult Certificate by the Censor Board, while several films with this level of adult content have received the U/A certificate. However, the 'A' certificate is fair in this case, and will work probably in favour of the film.
The first half is breezy. The boys and their romps at bachelorette parties (great songs) are amusing. The second half gets soppy. But the ending, admirably, is not a cop-out.
The humour is spot-on. There are portions where the film gets into a Mera Bharat Mahaan mode, but then also makes a self-deprecating dig at Indians always being late.
There are things the film could have done without. Like making the heavily Punjabi-accented Akshay Kumar speak Gujarati. Or a character asking a lady (during an interview) to give him her qualifications or her measurements.
The cast does well. Akshay and John work well together and make us root for their bromance.
Deepika is lovely but stuck playing The Girlfriend - a vague character with no ambition, career, or even a hobby - persistently in the 'waiting-for marriage' state.
Chitrangda plays the more interesting, layered role of a professor who has a crush on her student.
The finale that takes place in a court is too sharp a detour. But if you can bear with that, Desi Boyz is a fun ride.
Rating: 3 stars