Right from the time he made his film debut with ‘Vicky Donor’ (2012), Ayushmann Khurrana has largely picked up films with unconventional scripts or subjects. In the last ten years, a large number of films, featuring him in the lead role, have dealt with topics or issues that have been long considered to be taboo in Indian society. While formulaic fares (‘Bewakoofiyaan’) and historicals (‘Hawaizaada’) might not have worked very well for the actor, a majority of the films he has done in this space have turned out to be successful.
Looking at the box-office pattern in the last two years, many trade experts are of the opinion that high-concept films, which actors like Ayushmann specialize in, are no longer feasible for cinemas. These films, they believe, are suitable to be released directly on streaming platforms. In a post-pandemic world, two Ayushmann Khurrana films (‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’ and ‘Anek’) released in the theatres and didn’t do very well. The actor’s new film, too, is based on a subject that has never been explored before. Will ‘Doctor G’ be the film that would prove naysayers wrong and rekindle hope for those who wish to release their medium-budgeted, high-concept films in theatres?
Uday Gupta (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a medical student who has had a long-standing dream of becoming an orthopaedician. While Uday was a very good student for a large part of his life, he hasn’t been able to score a good rank in his medical entrance examination. Since his marks are not up to the mark, there is no space for him in the orthopedic department of a good college. While there is an option to study orthopedics in a college in Mandsaur, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, Uday doesn’t want to leave Bhopal and is keen on studying orthopedics in a medical institute based in the city. In Bhopal, the only department where a seat is available is gynecology. Uday is distressed at the lack of options. As advised by his cousin Ashok (Indraneil Sengupta), Uday gets himself admitted to the gynecology department without any interest in it. His objective is to appear for exams the next year, secure a higher rank and get a seat in the orthopedics department.
‘Doctor G’ rests on a novel premise. However, debutante director Anubhuti Kashyap, who has also written the film, doesn’t solely depend on the subject to create some magic. Along with co-writers Sumit Saxena, Saurabh Bharat, Vishal Wagh, she puts together a screenplay that manages to address a variety of issues while keeping the audience thoroughly engaged in the proceedings. While the trailer and other promotional material gave you an idea about the subject of the film, the makers skillfully refrained from offering a glimpse of some of the many elements in the film that make it as engrossing as it turns out to be. While the film is essentially a social drama, a certain track in the film has the beats of a thriller and keeps you guessing what will happen next.
Though the film is a largely satisfying affair, it has its share of shortcomings as well. The track between Uday and Fatima (Rakul Preet Singh) plays an important role in the internal transformation we see Uday going through in this film. It culminates quite nicely as well. However, it could have been handled much better. We see Uday and Fatima getting extremely close to each other all of a sudden as a song (“Har Jagah Tu”) plays in the background. It looks forced owing to the way it has been depicted. Also, Fatima inexplicably disappears for a good amount of time in the second half. The first half lacks coherence and could have had a better impact. There are multiple junctures during which the film gets a little predictable and the convenience with which the narrative takes a few turns leaves you disappointed as a viewer.
Ayushmann Khurrana gets an author-backed role to play and he does complete justice to it. The character’s evolution from a good-natured but slightly chauvinistic man to a person who has a better understanding of the world around registers an impact as the actor shows this transformation with effortless ease. Rakul Preet Singh’s character doesn’t have an arc as interesting as Ayushmann’s. However, she does well in a few important scenes where she gets the scope to perform. Shefali Shah delivers a very impactful performance, though her character comes across as slightly uni-dimensional. Sheeba Chadha is in terrific form as always. Ayesha Kaduskar, who gets a well-written part, performs very well. Indraneil Sengupta brings the grey shades of his character effectively to the fore with his performance. Paresh Pahuja leaves a mark in a cameo.
With a well-structured screenplay that has its heart in the right place, ‘Doctor G’ is one of the better Hindi films to have released this year. It would be good to see the film doing well at the box office as that would pave the way for many such films in this bracket to get a theatrical release.