It’s more than a decade romantic-comedy Dostana hit the screens, but Priyanka Chopra’s turn in the film– from her dance moves in the song “Desi Girl” to her various enviable looks in the movie– is still fresh in the audience’s memory. Naturally, Janhvi Kapoor, who stars in Dostana 2, is aware that comparisons between Priyanka and her performance are inevitable, even if the two films have contrasting stories.
Janhvi Kapoor co-stars Kartik Aaryan and debutante Lakshya in the follow up to the 2008 successful film that also featured Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham. The original, directed by Tarun Mansukhani, followed the story of two heterosexual men (Abhishek and John), who pretend to be gay to share an apartment with a woman (Priyanka) they are attracted to. Dostana 2 will reportedly see Janhvi and Kartik as siblings falling for the same guy, played by Lakshya. It has been directed by debutante Collin D’Cunha, who has co-written the film with Navjot Gulati, Sumit Arora and Rishabh Sharma.
Janhvi, in an interview with indianexpress.com, addresses the pressure that she feels stepping into a franchise that’s remembered as much for its homophobic humour as for Priyanka’s stunning avatar. The actor, who turns 24 on Tuesday, says the bar set by Priyanka is so high that all she can do is pray that she gets “somewhere close to her.”
“Priyanka Chopra was iconic in Dostana. So, there is a responsibility, but it’s another film, completely different. So, I don’t know what I can do. All that I can do is the bar, the standard that she has set, you have to reach for the stars I guess, pray to God and hope that you get somewhere close.”
Karan Johar, who has produced the franchise, has previously admitted that the first part had a “caricaturish” representation of homosexuality, something the team has consciously stayed away from in the upcoming instalment. In fact, Karan at that time had said that as a maker his evolution in terms of depicting homosexuality on screen will reflect in Dostana 2.
“Initially, it (Dostana) was something that was a conversation starter, so there was a depiction of sexuality that was caricaturish, even in the cinema that I had produced. But today I wouldn’t do that. The evolution is from one Dostana to the other. Dostana 1 that released in 2008 and the Dostana 2, you will see that the representation is accurate, non-caricaturish and on point.”
“(It’s) 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,” the producer had said at ‘We the Women’ event in December 2019.
Dostana is not the only franchise that Janhvi Kapoor stars in. Interestingly, the actor’s over two-year-old filmography features two more franchises– Ghost Stories that was a part of Netflix’s four-part anthology universe that began with Lust Stories and Roohi that forms the second part of the horror-comedy world of producer Dinesh Vijan after Stree.
Lust Stories and Stree, both which released in 2018, were big successes and earned critical acclaim. Doesn’t Janhvi get nervous thinking about audience’s valid expectations from the follow-ups to acclaimed projects? “No, because in my head these projects are still very different. Roohi is extremely different from Stree. So, I don’t know what parallels you can draw in terms of what the actors will do but yes they are part of same universe and they all meet at some point. Having said that, I don’t know what else you can compare other than the genre, like how funny or scary it is compared to the other.”
Roohi also stars Varun Sharma and Rajkummar Rao, who led Stree as well. Directed by Hardik Mehta, the film hits the theatres on Mach 11.