Gay's the way, but the way's not really gay, in the fluffy and largely entertaining "Dostana," in which two hunks pretend to be more than just good friends to share an apartment with a sexy glamorpuss.

Gay’s the way, but the way’s not really gay, in the fluffy and largely entertaining “Dostana,” in which two hunks pretend to be more than just good friends to share an apartment with a sexy glamorpuss. Star teaming of Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham with Bollybabe Priyanka Chopra sails merrily along under slick helming by freshman Tarun Mansukhani and glossy production values, though the central joke often shows stretch-marks. Gay fests may think twice before programming this, as pic is basically a straight romantic comedy dressed up in campy duds. However, general biz, both locally and offshore, has been bonny.

Sameer (Bachchan), a Punjabi male nurse from London, and Kunal (Abraham), a fashion photog, end up viewing the same property while apartment hunting in Miami. The already desirable penthouse suite becomes even more desirable when they meet their potential co-tenant, Neha (Chopra), an editor on a fashion mag.

Alas, the landlady, Baby (Sushmita Mukherjee), who also happens to be Neha’s aunt, only wants girls cohabiting with her niece. The solution? Let’s pretend to be gay lovers, suggests Sameer.

Blithely ignoring large potholes in the script — is this the only apartment available in Miami? how can Sameer, for one, afford such lavish digs? — screenplay initially bounces around with lots of gay jokes, such as a fictitious flashback to S&K’s love-at-first-sight meeting in Venice and Kunal’s unease at Sameer’s theatrical displays of “affection.”

Script subsequently makes a game attempt at introducing some internal logic, as the hole the duo have dug gets ever deeper. Both try to clandestinely romance Neha, who’s become the girl of their dreams, and Kunal persuades Sameer to officially register as his gay partner so he can get U.S. residency. When Neha’s new boss, Abhi (Bobby Deol), shows an interest in her, the three-way relationship turns into a four-way one, with S&K doing their utmost to sabotage Abhi’s romantic plans.

Pic is largely sustained by the trio’s screen chemistry, with Bachchan especially good at the louche comic stuff. Abraham and Chopra mostly just look fabulous and play second fiddle to Bachchan, though helmer Mansukhani buttresses the film with pro supports, including veterans Kirron Kher as a typical Punjabi mom and Boman Irani as Neha’s flouncy first boss. As Neha’s love interest, Deol is bland.

Apart from a socko nightclub sequence (“My Desi Girl”), and an opening beach number featuring Shilpa Shetty, musical interludes are so-so, largely designed to hide the fact that none of the principals can dance. Pic does, however, develop some dramatic traction in the final reels, with some clever twists and an unexpected finale. Urdu title literally means “Friendship,” which is what the movie, at base, is really all about.

Dostana

India

Production

A Yash Raj Films release of a Karan Johar presentation of a Dharma Prods. production. (International sales: Yash Raj, Mumbai.) Produced by Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar. Executive producer, Manoj Mitra. Directed by Tarun Mansukhani. Screenplay, Mansukhani, Anvita Dutt Guptan.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Ayananka Bose; editor, Manan Sagar; background music, Salim-Sulaiman [cq]; song music, Vishal-Shekhar; lyrics, Dutt Guptan, Kumaar, Vishal Dadlani; production designer, Amrita Mahal Nakar; art director, Mohd. Kasan; costume designer, Aki Narula, Manish Malhotra; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Sanjay Kurien; sound designer, Baylon Fonseca; visual effects, Red Chillies VFX; assistant director, Sameer Shippy. Reviewed at Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue 3, London, Nov. 29, 2008. Running time: 142 MIN. (I: 74 MIN.; II: 68 MIN.).

With

Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham, Priyanka Chopra, Bobby Deol, Kirron Kher, Sushmita Mukherjee, Shrey Bawa, Boman Irani, Shilpa Shetty. (Hindi dialogue)
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