Recall the 'Kantaben' episode in Karan Johar's Kal Ho Naa Ho? The episode is alive even today, in skits, on stage, amongst friends. That was a mere trailer. Picture abhi baaki hain. Dostana takes 'Kantaben' episode to another level altogether.
Dostana is no Brokeback Mountain. It's not a serious take on homosexuality either. On the contrary, it's a madcap comedy where two straight men pretend to be gays. Although Dostana is a mainstream commercial film, it dares to push the envelope in its own way. It brings homosexuality out of the closet, gives it respect and dignity and doesn't treat gays as 'abnormal'.
Love triangles in Hindi movies often centre around two guys falling in love with the same girl, or two girls choosing to love the same guy. But Dostana is a first. It's the first Hindi film that, at the core, is a rectangle [three men loving the same woman], but two of them, guys in this case, pretend to be a couple.
Sure, Dostana has ample shock-value since what has been witnessed in its promos is barely a fraction of what you'd get to watch in the movie. But more than shock-value, the film offers loads of fun-n-laughter and dollops of entertainment in those 14 reels.
A word of appreciation! It requires courage to fund a project like Dostana. Karan Johar, the producer, deserves to be lauded for treading the untrodden path. It requires courage and conviction to swim against the tide in your directorial debut. Tarun Mansukhani, the debutante, deserves a few brownie points extra for not thinking straight. It requires courage for two A-list actors to go all out and risk their professional [and personal] lives. Abhishek and John deserve an ovation for not only agreeing to play these characters, but also infusing life in them, without making a mockery of the gay community.
To cut a long story short, Dostana is not to be missed. Dharma Productions, the late Yash Johar and Karan Johar's film production outfit, has produced several significant films in the past. Add Dostana to the list!
Miami is the setting for Dostana. When Sameer [Abhishek Bachchan] and Kunal [John Abraham] are turned down for an apartment because the landlady [Sushmita Mukherjee] doesn't want two strapping young men to corrupt her young sexy niece Neha [Priyanka Chopra], they hatch a plan: they pretend to be gay to secure the apartment.
Over a period of time, Sameer, Kunal and Neha become buddies. When Neha's boss Abhimanyu [Bobby Deol] enters the fray as the third contender for her affections, it gets even hotter…
Dostana shocks you all the while and that is its biggest USP. Don't expect stereotypical situations or characters all through this film. Watch Abhishek cook up a romantic story between John and him in Venice. Watch Boman Irani's interaction with Abhishek and John. Watch Kirron Kher's dramatic entry at this point. Howlarious scenes all, they're sure to bring the house down.
If the first hour is laced with crackling chemistry between the guys and terrific humour, things get serious towards the second half since there's one more person vying for Priyanka's attention -- Bobby Deol. There's humour in this hour too, but the focus is mainly on who'd get Priyanka in the end.
The length is a slight deterrent in the second half and the editor could've easily cut the unwanted flab to make the narration in shape. But the film works as a package! Also, the film has a shocking end and people are bound to raise eyebrows. It would have its share of advocates and adversaries. A debatable culmination, for sure!
Director Tarun Mansukhani is here to stay. He deserves kudos for choosing an offbeat story, then making a foolproof screenplay and most importantly, executing it with flourish. Dostana merges form and content beautifully, since the film is, technically speaking, sound. Ayananka Bose's cinematography is top notch. The locales of Miami are a feast for your eyes. Costumes and styling are very upmarket.
Vishal-Shekhar's music goes well with the mood of the film. It's young, peppy and energetic. 'Desi Girl' and 'Maa Da Laadla Bigad Gaya' are foot-tapping compositions. The latter is bound to be a rage!
Both Abhishek and John are fantabulous! Abhishek pulls out all the stops and delivers one of the finest performances of his career. His comic timing is superb! John will make guys and girls drool over his amazing physique. But, most importantly, people will sit up and notice how fine an actor John is. Both Abhishek and John compliment each other so well. In fact, had the chemistry and camaraderie been missing, the story would've failed to look convincing. Two thumbs up for these two guys!
Priyanka looks stunning and delivers a first-rate performance. First Fashion, now Dostana, Priyanka is back with a bang. Bobby Deol lends the required class to his role. No other actor would've looked so real while underplaying this character.
Boman Irani is sure to bring the house down, the auditorium is sure to resonate with laughter in his sequences. Kirron Kher is superb as the Punjabi mom. Watch her throw a fit when she learns that her son [Abhishek] is gay and much later, when she accepts John as family. She's remarkable! Sushmita Mukherjee, as Priyanka's aunt, is fantastic. She's so, so funny. Shilpa Shetty sizzles in the opening track.
On the whole, Dostana is a winner all the way. In terms of content, it might just prove to be a trendsetter. In terms of business, the film holds tremendous appeal for the youth. The 16 to 25 age-group would go into raptures and bonkers over this film. Its business at multiplexes mainly will be amazing. In Overseas too, the film should emerge amongst the biggest draws of 2008. Dostana rocks... have a blast!
Verdict: Four stars