When reviewing Dostana, I find myself knee-deep in a dilemma. Sure, it's a fun light romantic comedy more than anything else, and over anything the film tries to emphasize (as can be seen in the title) friendship. At the same time, a lot of the promotion, a lot of the hype and yes, a lot of the discussion after the film's release discusses one thing in particular: portrayal of homosexuality.
A funny thing about the film's promotion is in a way very telling of the film itself. They flirt with the idea of homosexuality quite loudly all around, jokes are being made about John-Abhishek being "jodi number one" and the part of the plotline is heavily emphasized. Then it's time to pull back on the reins, underlining the fact that Sam (Abhishek Bachchan) and Kunal (John Abraham) are only pretending to be gay in order to land a sweet apartment in gorgeous Miami, they're not actually gay, they're womanizing, very very heterosexual guys. Time to say, "the movie is about friendship, it's not trying to send a message".
Honestly, I don't blame them. It's a commercial film and making a straight-forward message film or a social commentary might hurt its chances at the box office. Karan Johar may be considered brave for making KANK but he's also got a business sense. If India's the country where homosexuality is still technically illegal, it's probably not quite ready for a Brokeback Mountain.
So how about the film itself? There's good and there's bad. Some of the portrayal of homosexuals (because yes, the film features some genuinely gay characters) is undoubtedly stereotypical, but not mean-spirited at all. There's allusions made to gay people being "not-all-male" which I mostly found really misinformed. At the same time, we see general acceptance - it's played up for comedy, certainly, but it's definitely there.
As far as performances go, Abhishek and Priyanka Chopra (playing landlady's foxy daughter Neha) win all the way. Movies like these make you wonder why Abhishek bothers with serious roles at all; he's just that good at comedy. John Abraham left me cold (yeah, I know, what the--). Maybe it's the role simply being more restricted than Abhishek's. Maybe it's just that he's not that great an actor (sorry, fans!).
The soundtrack is delightful and while there are some definite flaws in the second half (so much so that for a moment the film becomes a borefest, not a funny entertainer), which I won't get into as I'm trying to keep the review spoiler-free, Dostana is quite a fun ride. Let's hope the director, besides stepping out of Karan Johar's shadow, might actually also avoid some typical KJo mistakes with his next project.