This Don lacks the original punch
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, Ishaa Koppikar, Kareena Kapoor, Om Puri, Boman Irani, Chunky Pandey
Director: Farhan Akhtar
All directors working on remakes of well-loved hits, might learn a few lessons from Farhan Akhtar’s Don. No matter what they do, they will invite comparisons with the original and the past always looks golden-hued in retrospect. Unless they are able to completely reinvent or reinterpret the old film, their efforts are in danger of falling flat.
Farhan Akhtar trips over several wires. Even if viewers wanted to see the film with a clean slate, the use of names, dialogues and situations from the original film keep jerking them back into memories of the old Chandra Barot Don, which, with the passage of time has acquitted the patina of a masterpiece.
It was actually no more than a reasonably entertaining masala film, which, with happy chance, blended the talents of Salim-Javed, Amitabh Bachchan and Kalyanji-Anandji in perfect proportions. One is not sure of director Chandra Barot’s abilities, since he didn’t do anything worthwhile before or after Don. Then again, if viewers see this Don, with that Don fresh in their minds, they are bound to be disappointed.
Akhtar’s Don is slick, polished and soulless. Plus he has made the fatal error of tampering with the screenplay and causing some unforgivable glitches in the process. With his extra twisty version, the plot makes no sense at all, but to reveal anything more would be a spoiler. To give just one example, however, Amitabh Bachchan as a “Ganga kinare wala”, craving his Banarasi paan, gets high on bhang at a dhobi ghaat and does the immortal Khaike paan Banaraswala dance.
In Akhtar’s Don, the character stumbles onto a group of UP-ites in Malaysia (not likely!); he does, rather uncharacteristically (considering who he really is), gets stoned and does the Khaike paan number, without even relishing the paan. Doesn’t have the same effect.
The grey magnificence of Malaysia can’t recreate the heart-stopping moment, when Vijay (Shah Rukh Khan) posing as Don, realises that DCP D’Silva (Boman Irani), the only man who knows he is not a criminal, is killed. Now in the new Don, this situation does not arise, because Akhtar has played around with the characters. The Hitchcockian tale of innocent man desperate to prove his identity is not applicable here, instead there’s a supposedly clever ‘surprise’ end, which cancels out everything that went before.
Other bloopers creep in —like in this age of computers it would not be so easy for a criminal wanted by the cops in 11 countries to travel across international borders so easily. And if D’Silva keeps track of every move of his, why can’t he arrest him in India earlier, instead of doing his fancy gig in Kuala Lumpur. And if Don’s boss is so easily murdered, and his men so quickly arrested, why was the Interpol running circles all the while?
Shah Rukh Khan, not looking his best, is sort of effective as Don, but falls very short as Vijay, the rustic bumpkin. With changes in the Jasjit (Pran played by Arjun Rampal) character, the emotional angle in the story is also lost. Shah Rukh’s box-office clout and the combined sex appeal of Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Isha Koppikar, can’t save Farhan Akhtar’s Don from being slow and mechanical. If it does well, it will be because of the inordinate affection with which Bollywood film lovers still remember the original.