Dostana is clearly a product of its time. Can we admit that? I mean I admit that I clearly had fun watching it when it came out back in 2008. But I was a kid back then who hadn’t even scratched the surface of LGBTQ representation in Indian cinema and had grown up watching crass and idiotic portrayals of gay characters. So, that’s kind of understandable. However, as I grew up, I understood that grown-ass people like Karan Johar, Tarun Mansukhani, Anvita Dutt Guptan, Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham, Boman Irani, and Priyanka Chopra had no business being part of a project that re-established every stereotype associated with the LGBTQ community. That said, there’s a chance Dostana 2 is going to be very different.
Dostana featured two men who pretended to be gay to get an apartment with a girl. The sequel features none of the original cast and has Kartik Aaryan, Jahnvi Kapoor and debutant Lakshya instead. And since Johar has produced both of them, he admitted how caricaturish the depiction of sexuality was in Dostana and how it’s going to change in Dostana 2, during a session of We The Women by Barkha Dutt. According to Hindustan Times he said,
“The evolution is from one Dostana to the other. Dostana one that released in 2008 and the Dostana 2 that’s releasing in 2020, you will see that the representation is accurate, non-caricaturish and on point, talking about sexuality in a way that will not make you cringe while watching it. So therein lies the fact that in the last 12 years, there has been a solid change in the way we depict gay characters. Even in Kapoor & Sons and the way it was depicted.”
I have cringed every time I have seen Dostana‘s name come up in a “best movies with lgbtq representation in India” list. And no I don’t think that it is any kind of a conversation starter. The fact that the characters are pretending to be gay is merely played as a joke instead of asking any real questions and features only one redemptive point i.e. a traditional mother accepting that her son is gay. But that doesn’t make up for the utter garbage that’s depicted in the rest of the movie. Projects like Aligarh, Angry Indian Goddesses, Margarita with a Straw, Super Deluxe, Loev, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (now that’s a safe conversation starter), and Made in Heaven have tackled topics related to the LGBTQ community so well. And I can only hope that Dostana 2 learns from them instead of trying to emulate whatever the first movie did.
I am glad that Karan Johar has owned up to the fact that Dostana is problematic. However, there’s a part of me that’s still doubtful about how hard Dostana 2 is going to go in terms of representation. They’ve cast two of the most mainstream actors in the industry who haven’t taken any risks and are probably in no mood to do so in the future either. So, I’d advice you to not get your hopes high and at least wait till the first look of the movie drops.