Dasvidaniya or Dostana? Gay comedy or emotional feel-good drama? Three super-hunks of Bollywood with a hot-looking heroine or an ensemble art movie-esque cast? Mega production house movie with a debutante director or a fledgling but creative production house movie with a debutante director? That was the sorta dilemma I was in almost all of Friday…the mind was saying Dostana but the heart was plumping for Dasvidaniya. In the end, (I hate to say this) like in that Tata Indicom suckerpuss ads, I followed my heart and chose Dasvidaniya.
Dasvidaniya – meaning Goodbye in Russian (or maybe the best goodbye ever) – is a bittersweet comedy featuring Vinay Pathak as the protagonist Amar Kaul who’s dull but meticulous life is dealt a serious blow when he’s diagnosed with stomach cancer and pronounced to have just three months left to live. Initial despair turns into a steely determination to accomplish his long-cherished goals – courtesy a chance encounter in the bar with Ranvir Shorey and Amar’s own inner voice (dressed in Ranvir’s clothes that too!). He buys his first car, tries his hand at flirting, starts taking guitar lessons, yells at his overbearing boss, meets his childhood and teenage sweetheart and bares his feelings to her, flies to a foreign land to meet his childhood buddy and even gets laid with a Russian hooker! The hardest tasks relegated to the end are patching up with his brother and letting his Mumma know about his situation.
All of this may sound like an emotional rollercoaster journey but trust me, the teary moments are few and far in between. The initial discovery phase is painfully slow but once the despair is waved away, we see a wholly transformed Amar Kaul on screen and the scenes flit away with amazing ease. Laughs are aplenty, owing much to Vinay Pathak’s expressions and reactions & also to some clever writing. Many a one-liners had the audience in splits – the guitar in pelvis, trying to be Elvis line especially 😆 . Its the second half which is a letdown, both in terms of pace and execution. The Rajat Kapoor – Suchitra Pillai track drags on and on and the Russian hooker piece seems to be forced-in, maybe to get the Dasvidaniya moniker on-screen. The director tries to pep-up proceedings once again with the tantrik acts et al and though it elicits a few laughs, doesn’t do much towards the waning interest. The climax, though seemingly somewhat too sudden was appropriate. The Anand & Kal Ho Na Ho types of deathbed scenes and teary climax would have been too clichéd.
Performance-wise, its a Vinay Pathak movie through and through. He shines at both the emotional and the light-hearted portions and brings true believability to his character. It’d be hard to imagine anyone else in this role. Neha Dhupia as the now-married childhood and teenage friend/secret love of Amar & Gaurav Gera as Amar’s estranged brother do well in small-ish roles. Sarita Joshi, who plays Amar’s serial-loving, hard-of-hearing, tantrik-believing Mumma is too good. Rajat Kapoor looks lost and jaded in the character of Amar’s childhood friend, now settled in some foreign country. His performance, and by consequence that particular track, stands out like a sore thumb! Music by Kailash Kher, Naresh and Paresh is decent, with the Alvida and Mumma tracks being very meaningful. Debutante director Shashant Shah does a swell job and since its his first movie, I wouldn’t grudge him for leaving some loose ends untied.
People watching this one expecting another Khosla ka Ghosla or Bheja Fry will be disappointed but for those preferring an emotional and heart-warming story about a common man with whom you can identify with easily, Dasvidaniya is not to be missed. I wouldn’t mind going over my “10 things to do before I die” list once more with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm.