Ayushmann Khurrana’s new film completes an arc that began a decade ago with Vicky Donor, in which Khurrana played a sperm donor. In Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017), Khurrana’s marketing executive tackled erectile dysfunction. In Anubhuti Kashyap’s Doctor G, Khurrana’s character doesn’t want to know about the consequences of sperm doing what they are supposed to do.
Khurrana’s medical intern Uday is desperate to pursue osteopathy, but is instead forced to settle for gynaecology. What is my place in this branch of medicine for women and dominated by female professionals, whines Uday, seemingly unaware of the hordes of male gynaecologists out there.
Uday has stumbled into a never-ending vagina monologue, filled with swollen-bellied women and an all-female classroom. His supervisor Nandini (Shefali Shah) is the kind of no-nonsense doctor who can make a baby pop out merely by staring at a womb.
Back home, Uday has a kooky mom (is there ever any other kind?). Mom (Sheeba Chadha) insists on shoving ladoos into Uday’s mouth at the exact moment when he chomping on a slice of watermelon. Similarly, Doctor G bites off more than it can chew.
Anubhuti Kashyap, who has previously directed the web series Afsos, makes her feature debut with Doctor G. The film has the look and feel of too many television episodes crammed into a 124-minute film.
At its most basic, Doctor G is an excuse for the fish-out-of-water brand of comedy in which Khurrana excels. Khurrana’s skill at being the odd man out – literally so in this case – is most useful in an ambitious narrative that wants to champion gender equality, demystify a crucial aspect of women’s health, and demand that men be empathetic towards the women in their lives.
That’s a whole lot of bumpy ground to cover, but Doctor G actually reaches its destination by the interval itself. The second half, which loops back to Uday’s mentor Ashok (Indraneil Sengupta) and his underage girlfriend, is a whole other movie.
Can men become sensitive to women’s problems by peering at their innards? Doctor G is the kind of film in which the question answers itself. Another question goes unanswered: if men lord over nearly every branch of medicine, what goes of whose mother if women dominate gynaecology?
Comedy, a time-tested device to sell uncomfortable truths, is the narrative’s vestigial organ, which is also what Uday’s seniors compare him to. The limp attempts at humour include the name of Uday’s classmate – KLPD, played by the comedian AiyyoShraddha – and the efforts of Uday’s mother to lose herself in the pleasures of Tinder. There’s also a semi-clad friend floating around who suggests that the movie was far more outre than it ended up being.
Uday’s love interest Fatima (Rakul Preet Singh) is among the film’s better-realised tracks. Anubhuti Kashyap handles Fatima’s fondness for Uday with a deft touch that’s missing elsewhere.
The working-class women who heave themselves into the government hospital where Uday is being trained barely register in a film that signals virtue at all times. Apart from imparting a few maternity ward hacks, these characters are a side show to Uday’s delayed coming-of-age experience.