The Ayushmann Khurrana genre. A term that has been coined in the past few years has pretty much become a constant where the actor has not only managed to carve out an incredible career out of such films but even touched upon tabooed topics. However, there is a sense of monotony now to this novelty and with changing preferences of the audience on their choice to go and see a film on the big screen, times are tougher than ever.
Another entry into this Ayushmann Khurrana playbook is Doctor G and having had the chance to see it beforehand, here is what I thought about it-
New Topic, Same Tropes
When you are trying to attempt to touch upon on a tabooed topic, there are probably two ways to convey it - make it extremely novel and yet palatable or just make it incredibly entertaining. Doctor G tries to dabble on these fronts sporadically but doesn't quite land with conviction anywhere. There are usual tropes in the film in the first half especially which are run-off-the-mill, be it the complicated relationship between Khurrana's Uday Gupta and Rakul Preet Singh's Fatima, Uday doing the impossible feat of handling a pregnancy in the most unconventional location, fighting the odds etc. The constant predictability attached to the first half makes it rather vanilla and the usage of usual tropes just with a twist don't help too much.
Humor - a hit and miss
Once again, the humor and one-liners in this film land at a few instances and just don't make you even chuckle at a few others. A few one liners exchanged between Khurrana's character and a tenant at his place, who is also his friend and the idea of having one male guy in an all-female setup in the classroom was indeed good fun. The roles did seem reversed indeed and that entire segment was funny. However, there are plenty of misses as well and with a topic like this which is already difficult for the average Joe to fathom, the humor miss becomes a problem.
A Delight to see Veterans Getting their Due
Even though, I would have loved to see a lot more of Shefali Shah as Dr. Nandini in the film but there is one thing that cannot be denied. Both Shah and actor Sheeba Chadha are seemingly getting their due now more than over. Look at Shah, where it seems 2022 was indeed her year with Jalsa, Human, Delhi Crime Season 2 and Darlings all being knockouts and now having Doctor G added to the mix as well. And when it comes to Chadha, it seems these past couple of months are all about her where she delivered another brilliant performance in Maja Ma, is easily the best thing about Doctor G and is one of the main faces in the upcoming Phone Bhoot. You can also sense the difference of how indeed, this is a film directed by a female director, Anubhuti Kashyap. The treatment of these female characters in the film is done with precision, finesse and a gentleness that can only be understood by a woman directing a female actor.
A Tale of Two Halves
Doctor G is a classic case of how two halves of a film can deliver such different experiences. It isn't that the first half doesn't work but it is just mundane and the aforementioned tropes just add to that. However, it is in the second half that we get down to business with situations getting darker, more conflicting albeit dramatic. Ayushmann Khurrana delivers an earnest performance as Uday, who initially struggles to comes to term with the career option he has fallen upon to tackling his fragile male ego. Khurrana gets to deliver his chops in the second half with more drama coming in and the actor does a good job. Rakul Preet Singh probably gets the meatiest role in her Hindi movie career so far and the actor is impressive. There are moments where you can see her still struggling with the delivery of dialogues and the intended emotion but it is a fine performance overall. And as mentioned already, Shefali Shah and Sheeba Chadha are easily the best part of this film, especially Chadha. Right from being the perfect source of laughter and being able to execute every joke impeccably to shifting gears and getting emotional and even angry in the more entertaining second half, Chadha is the standout performer of the lot.
A couple of smart easter eggs and twisted love angle
While the first half witnesses regular treatment of the love angle between Khurrana and Singh with the latter already being engaged and the two having a moment etc, the continued story between them is where the writing and direction gets better. Towards the end, the culmination of their love story is novel and impressive as opposed to being cliched.
As a sucker for spotting Easter eggs and references, there is a scene when you can see the director's name on the name board outside Uday's cabin space as the consultant to him. Apart from this, in another key scene, we see director Neeraj Ghaywan's name pop on the bench of a MBBS classroom.
In the end, Doctor G takes its time to get into gear but once it does, it ends up being a moving, learning and entertaining watch.
Rating - *** (3/5)