Anubhuti Kashyap’s ‘Doctor G’ is a dramatic, fun eye-opener with a refreshing perspective, a lot of learnings, and a few problems.
“Doctor G” revolves around Dr. Uday Gupta (Ayushmann Khurrana), who wants to study orthopaedics, but gets stuck in an all-women gynaecology department. After much reluctance, he learns from the women and trains to become a gynaecologist. The film is not about him though. It’s about, and for, all men who don’t recognise or acknowledge their casual misogyny, who don’t understand why #AllMen, make no attempts to understand women’s struggles and blame them instead.
Uday’s character is distinctive. Here is an entitled, controlling, and sexist man who thinks that all women owe him. A woman should switch her career because he wants her seat. The woman he wants should always say yes. His mother should not date because “Log kya kahenge?” He derives inspiration from a paedophile because “Affair kiska nahi hota?” He constantly complains that he cannot ‘understand women’, a sentiment endorsed by most men. His character is distinctive because it has been written from the perspective of a woman; Uday is exactly what most men look like. In contrast, the film also describes what good men look like through the characters of Anubhav aka Chaddi (Abhay Mishra) and Arif (Paresh Pahuja). The film correctly implies that it’s not a woman’s job to educate men, they’ve got to learn by themselves. The key to ‘understanding women’ is to listen. Uday’s discomfort upon walking into a class full of and about women realistically describes how intimidating most male-dominated spaces are for women. However, the “chadhava” bit seems problematic. Ragging (even harmless) is not fun, and objectification is violating irrespective of gender.
The film is not entirely serious though, it’s a fun dramatic watch. Khurrana plays the grumpy and frustrated Uday effortlessly. His acting in some humorous scenes looks forced though. Shefali Shah and Sheeba Chaddha always understand the assignment! They play their respective roles as Professor, Dr. Nandini Srivastav and Uday’s mother, Shobha Gupta aptly. However, I wish to learn why Dr. Nandini is always harsh towards Uday. Is it because someone needs to hold men strictly accountable or is it just a character trait? Ayesha Kaduskar shines as Kavya; she really moved me. The script is gripping but mostly predictable. While it’s sufficiently humorous, dialogues like “nipples se doodh aa raha hai”, a South Indian character’s stereotypical dialogues about idli and Rajnikanth, and the reservation joke seem unnecessary.
The film is being applauded deservedly; when women make films, they include women as active agents. However, Doctor G has some problematic moments. A female patient gets scared and creates a furore when Dr. Uday touches her during a clinical examination. In response, Dr. Nandini scolds her asking her to visit a private hospital if she is uncomfortable with a male doctor. Firstly, because women’s reproductive health is largely stigmatised, some women might be unaware of what to expect while visiting a gynaecologist. This does not allow anyone to insult them. Secondly, accompanied by her ignorant husband, she was hesitating from the start; the examination further scared her. In such a case, a medical professional is supposed to calm her, understand her concern, and counsel her instead of shouting at her publicly. Thirdly, just because a woman doesn’t come from an affluent background and opts for government services doesn’t mean we can shame her. ‘Choice’ doesn’t exist exclusively for women who can afford private healthcare; all women deserve dignity.
As the film progresses, the protagonist does not become a hero or saviour, which is welcome. Doctor G’s deconstruction of the supposed ‘friend zone’ is perhaps its most impressive aspect. It unbiasedly explores the accusations against women of putting men in the friend zone and gently explains where the fault lies. However, as a major disappointment, the film ends with the song ‘Dil Dhak Dhak Dhak Karta Hai’ which shows the friends dancing together sexually, defeating the entire point. The camera captures Singh’s body while she dances to lyrics like “Jab tere jaise majnu ke haath na aati hu, tera dil dhak dhak dhak karta hai” which is the opposite of what the film vouched for. This does not make the film faulty; films are allowed to be imperfect. In fact, Doctor G is an honest and commendable attempt in the right direction. However, it’s necessary to be aware of the film’s impact and closely monitor the problematic aspects so that we don’t repeat the mistakes.
Doctor-G is now running in theatres.