Cast: Kumud Mishra, Gaurav Parajuli, Vivek Mushran, Vidya Malvade, Raj Arjun, Sandeepa Dhar & ensemble.
Creator: Imtiaz Ali
Director: Sajid Ali, Archit Kumar & Nidhi Sethia Nair.
Streaming On: Sony LIV
Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
Runtime: 8 Episode Around 40 Minutes Each.
Dr. Arora Review: What’s It About:
Dr. Arora is a ‘s*x’ doctor/Sexologist (one who treats venereal disease) who runs a small clinic in a town in Jhansi. He helps people who have problems they cannot talk about openly and cure them of their pain. But society isn’t prepared for a man who talks about s*x openly and frames him as the villain. What happens next is the story.
Dr. Arora Review: What Works:
Imitiaz Ali is churning out content in full swing and I am in for this phase of him enjoying the long-format storytelling. But there is a but and we will discuss that later. The filmmaker is the exploring stories that generally won’t be very silver screen friendly as per the notions, on OTT. After a liberating tale (She on Netflix), he explores the manliness and what it exactly means while how our society is loving a taboo as it refrains from discussing s*x outside their bedrooms. Even if it is a medical problem.
Dr. Arora written by Sajid Ali, Arif Ali, Divya Johry with Imtiaz is a compilation of everything and around S*x that we as a society have hidden with a white bedsheet (you see what I did there right?). It is about a man who is suffering from erectile dysfunction but is more concerned about his image in the society than the fact that he is suffering a medical condition. He wears a razor blade around his neck. Ali and team make sure they try and reflect on the real world as much as possible. Set in late 90s the show is set in heartland India and that kind of elevates the plot.
This is Imtiaz’s world and you have to scratch the surface and see what’s beneath. The team create a visual world rather than explaining it verbally. A doctor treating venereal disease happens to run a clinic that sabotages itself as a part-time decorator’s go down. Every bench is facing the wall so the patients can hide their faces. There are large posters of how this man can treat your shortcoming, but his world is equally small. Take Dr. Arora for instance, a very minute detail elevates the character so much. He treats ‘gupt rog’ and thus talks to his patients in almost whispers or a low voice and you are made to believe that is his inherit tone. Till one fine moment he breaks into a song shouting at the top of his voice.
Or let’s just talk about his urge to showcase shades of men in general. A SP of police is mean and brutal on his job but is soft and sweet when alone with his wife. A man tries hard to show the world that he is the epitome of machismo and righteousness but resorts to holding feet to get work done without letting the world know. Or even a politician who is downright misogynist. Imtiaz knows his assignment here. There is a lover who travels every night in train just so he could get a glimpse of his love, I am craving that on the big screen so much.
The music is soothing and deserves to be spoken about. Niladri Kumar is back to mainstream after Laila Majnu and we deserve more of this magic please. Listen to Mehram if you want to know what I mean.
Dr. Arora Review: Star Performance:
Kumud Mishra is an artist that needs no validation. Having created an iconic character with Imtiaz in Rockstar, he knows what his director wants from him. The actor creates a man who has been through a lot in life but still has optimism left in him. A trajectory that is rare and when he is placed with other characters you can see it clearly. Mishra has the power to hold you and OTT is a boon that has made creators realise that heroes have no standard format.
Gaurav Parajuli gets an interesting part to play. The actor blends arrogance and innocence quite well and the curiosity can be seen in his performance. While the show ends up giving him a half baked conclusion, the dilemma of youth is always present in his story.
Everybody else from Raj Arjun, to Vivek Mushran to Vidya Malvade get their jobs done right. Raj specifically gets to play the trickiest part and he excels. I hope the world around him was built with more depth nuances. Mushran has the best part of the story.
Dr. Arora Review: What Doesn’t Work:
It is an ideal idea and one that could have done wonders if executed in a more nuanced manner. While it manages to draw many things home, it ends up falling in a trap. The trap is that of ending up becoming a checklist of relevant things to the storyline. With each patient a new problem is discovered and they kind of contribute to the story. But after a point they don’t develop much to feel like a fulfilling narrative but blink and miss episodes in Dr. Arora’s life.
For example, he meet a girl who suffers gonorrhoea. Doctor learns that she is a s*x worker and that she lied to him. He tells her to leave and never come back to him for treatment just because she chose to be in that profession. He realises he is also living a life of secrets and duality which develops empathy for her in his heart. Now you give your character a flaw and a beautiful one, he even finds a redemption for himself in a quite moving way, but why not explore that storyline more?
Or let’s talk about an entertaining but absurd cult leader who is going through pain due to over intercourse. The show doesn’t manage to use his storyline beyond punchlines and gags. Also, there is this rush to make everyone on board find their conclusions as faster as they can. Gaurav Parajuli’s delusion young boy is obsessing over a married woman, but there is never really a concrete end to their narrative.
Dr. Arora Review: Last Words:
It is an Imtiaz Ali product, one cannot negate it completely. There is a lot packed but with no aim or goal to reach. If the price is jumbled, the journey feels half baked sometimes and that happens here the most. Give it a try if you can discover more and educate me if I couldn’t decode it right!
Want some more recommendations? Read our She Season 2 Review here.