First things first: The huge poster of Akshay Kumar and Bobby Deol across Prasad’s Necklace Road façade is an unintended deception. We are pretty sure of the unintentional part ‘cos we do not credit the makers with enough canniness to plan it. Dosti is no glossy college flick, but a saggy melodrama dipped repeatedly in a basinful of gloop.
Hazardously experimental, yet uninspiringly trite, Dosti digs out the mummified remains of the age-old story of the almost homosexual same-sex friends, and tries to make a saleable movie out of it. It’s a pity failures are not often spectacular, or this movie would have gone down in history as one of the most remarkable examples of being completely off the market pulse. In a world where mindless entertainers like No Entry and Maine Pyaar Kyon Kiya are running to packed houses, would a tragic tale about a same-sex friendship even turn a head? Especially if it is as full of holes as a brick of bonsai clay?
Let’s talk about the plot. This one keeps it real simple ‘cos we assume it thinks us real stupid: Two friends Raj (Akshay Kumar) and Karan (Bobby Deol). One rich, one poor. Raj starts acting weird one fine day. Turns out he has cancer (of some sort). Raj dies.
That really is about it. It is hard enough to get a grip of the story as it withers away like a cotton grass flower in a strong gust. In addition, random elements are forcefully stuffed into the gaps. Like Anjali (Kareena Kapoor), as Raj’s girlfriend. Kajal (Lara Dutta), as Karan’s girlfriend. And Juhi Chawla as the in-between and unlikely doctor who doesn’t do much more than utter nuggets like “Just relax” while Raj is thrashing on his deathbed, or “Give me a painkiller – fast!” or “ I need to give him 2 liters of blood immediately,” which, incidentally, Anjali donates to Raj.
Apart from donating nearly half her body’s plasma content, Anjali also dances around trees, wears salwar-lingerie hybrids that keep slipping off her shoulders, and sticks around till Raj proposes to her. He changes his mind later upon being diagnosed sick, and she moves on to Aman Varma. Basically, she is there.
Kajal is Karan’s love interest, whom he ‘settles’ his roving eye on, and later marries. She does the dainty femme fatale thing too, and, all in all, is fairly dispensable to the plot. When one does think of it, there is practically no one in the story who is truly indispensable. It is the kind of story that can’t be made worse by additions or deletions, just as an extra punch can’t further disfigure a stampede victim.
As for music, Nadeem-Shravan churn out some vague numbers that sound more like Kendriya Vidyalaya school songs. They are better set to patriotic verse, and even better left unsung.
Lillette Dubey is around as the mother of Karan, while Kiran Kumar plays the father. They seem content in their roles and thankful they didn’t have to wade any further into the murk of the movie. And Shakti Kapoor is in a slip of a role, I don’t quite remember what.
One thing to watch out for are Akshay Kumar’s histrionics in the scenes that lead up to his death. From an outright slapstick guy to an anguished cancer victim, it sure is a difficult journey, and with AK, that shows. Audience often let out a laugh because the improbability betrays itself. Bobby Deol’s ragamuffin hair also inspires sniggers. With not much acting to do between themselves, they seem to be generally fooling around and slapping each other’s backs on expensive sets. And uttering dialogues crafted as hurriedly and carelessly as homework finished in the last bench at school.
The farce in the last few scenes plays out in never-before clichés: instantaneous epiphanies as estranged family members reunite, serendipitous unmasking of truth, and similar such stuff that spiritual pop literature is made of. Basically Karan and his thus-far cold and unaffectionate family regroup and hold hands while they watch Raj’s downfall, much like a bunch of air passengers watching one among them doing a free-fall.
All in all, it doesn’t look like anything can save this turkey. That’s right, this movie is going to die as sure a death as its character Raj. It’s symbolic and everything. It’s hard to remember a time in the far future when anyone will mention a movie called Dosti, let alone a few seconds from now. I for one will be thankfully brainwashed a minute into my next show. This one is certainly a goner. Amen.