Disclaimer: This is a blog post in which I take a fairly simple movie and pick it apart to see why exactly I didn't like it as much as I wanted to or as others have. I know in doing so, I have to take a comedy film seriously. I don't care that I'm doing so. When a film entertains, it's not necessary to analyze why it does so. When it doesn't, it's not so easy to pinpoint why, and one has to dig in deeper. Everything I express here are my own personal views, and I'm in no way suggesting everybody who enjoyed it watched a different movie. Please don't read it if you don't think you'd enjoy reading such a post. And please, I beg of you, don't post a comment along the lines of "this is just a silly comedy, why are you taking it so seriously?". Oh and it's a rant and there will be SPOILERS.
I rewatched Dostana a few weeks back and have been itching to write about it ever since. I don't particularly enjoy facing uncomfortable truths about movies I really enjoyed on the first watch, but I feel like I have to. Essentially it's what Ajnabi stated in her review, the closer you look, the more problems there are.
Because while the film still has its charms (Abhishek occasionally, fantastic soundtrack/picturizations) and its funny moments, it just rubbed me the wrong way on the rewatch. And that really, really sucks.
At the core, Dostana is the least genuine story of friendship in Bollywood perhaps ever. The screenwriter depicts it as the friendship of the century, but that's simply not the case. It's a story of two douchebags who want to bone a really hot girl, so they get close to her by continuing to build on a lie, and essentially mess up her life to selfishly win her for themselves, making her a prize to be won in a challenge between the two of them. When she finds out, she's understandably upset and eventually they win her back by sacrificing their masculinity by doing something that's maybe a bit gay. She accepts them as 'friends' again. End of movie.
None of this is what friendship is about. Friendship is about honesty - being able to express your thoughts and feelings openly to somebody. Friendship is about trust - trust that somebody is there for you when you need them, trust that they won't tell everybody what you told them behind your back. The movie seems to think it'll convince the audience that if you just say it's friendship enough, people will believe it really is friendship. I know Bollywood isn't a big fan of "show, not tell"-methods of storytelling, but in this particular case, that's not how things work. If I can't believe in something, it really doesn't matter how explicitly it's stated on-screen.
Another problem I have with Dostana is that for a "naughty" comedy, it mostly ends up feeling sleazy. It's not explicitly sleazy, it's not one of the B-films or C-films with graituitous french-kissing, lots of skin and verging on softcore (not that I've seen those films but I've run into clips of them on youtube). But it's sleazy enough to feel sleazy, to make one feel uncomfortable. One of my friends watched the movie with me during this rewatch, and she had this take on it, "It's like how Indians see Western people." As in, skimpily clad, sexually promiscuous, laying the innuendo on thick. I'm not sure if I agree with her interpretation, but it's one way to look at it, I guess. And look, I'm far from being a prude of some sort. I'm all for innuendo and sexuality explored in Indian films of all types. But style is important - make it funny and don't make it gross. I can think of some examples of this from American sitcoms but for an Indian example, Pyaar Ke Side Effects comes to mind.
I suppose I could write more about the manipulation on the second half but I think everybody's in agreement that was the movie's true lowest point. And I won't touch on gay stereotypes since as discussed recently on Filmi Girl's blog regarding Bollywood blackface and other examples, popular cinema thrives on stereotypes, some more offensive than others. Needless to say, both things bugged me, on top of the "friendship" and the sleaze.
Some of you will obviously be in strong disagreement, and that's fine. I'm not sure if I can argue my points more elaborately since I've sort of run out of steam while writing this rant, but if you have something to say besides "stop taking it so seriously!", by all means, say it.