DON - The Chase Begins Again Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film | Action, Thriller
Oct 21, 2006 By Subhash K. Jha

"Don ko pakadna mushqil hi nahin, namumkin bhi hai". (It's not just difficult to catch Don, it's impossible).

You could say that again! Farhan Akhtar, who once made one of Indian cinema's path breakers "Dil Chahta Hai", slips into a gamine groove to recreate Salim-Javed's script from the original film of the same name.

Let's not play the blame game. But whosoever thought a slicker version of the clever 1978 script would work better when packaged in gallons of gloss has a vision that just stops short of being audacious.

This is a cheeky and chic homage to the earlier "Don". It goes to places the earlier film couldn't have dreamt of.

The film opens unnecessarily in Paris and quickly moves to Kuala Lumpur where the narrative stays put as Farhan tries to put across the story of Don, his doppelganger Vijay, the vendetta-oriented Roma (Priyanka Chopra) and Jasjeet (Arjun Rampal).

Priyanka fumes as though she had taken lessons in feminine fury from Zeenat Aman in the earlier "Don". Rampal frets and limps as though he had watched Pran in the original flick really hard.

And Shah Rukh is the twin-faced imp-cum-ogre - he snarls, sneers and taunts as he takes the role as away from Bachchan's role as humanly possible.

It isn't a performance. It's a bouquet of over-the-top expressions designed to showcase the star's ability to get the better of his character.

The narrative is very straight and razor-sharp. The confusion of identity is given a psychological twist in this re-interpreted tale of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Outwardly, this revisionist version of Chandra Barot's "Don" is slicker than anything Farhan or his chic ilk have ever attempted.

But at times you feel the slickness really gets to you. The film's outstanding topographical and technical detailing hampers the audiences' journey towards the characters.

There's not one emotionally moving sequence - neither when the sizzling Kamini (Kareena Kapoor) dances before Don to avenge her fiance's murder nor when Roma (Priyanka) takes to martial arts and guns to avenge the death of her brother.

Coldness grips the heart of this stylish motion picture. Farhan deconstructs the clever tale of glorified-gangsterism. The neo-Don increases the glam-quotient in crime beyond anything we've seen in Hindi cinema. Makes you wonder what happened to the good old morality tale?

"Don" is dangerously revisionist in its tempting overview of good and evil. Some fight scenes are so heart-in-the-mouth that their sole aim seems to be making Shah Rukh romance the rugged Malaysian hinterland.

There's no sexual frisson between Shah Rukh and Priyanka. They combat one another intellectually and physically without getting too close for comfort.

But Kareena can drive audiences crazy in the brief number "Yeh mera dil" with her radiant presence.

The background score is minimalist and the sound design portrays silences with as much reverence as the screech of rubber on roads. But the elaborately choreographed songs and dances seem to be done in the spirit of doomed desperation.

And yes "Khai ke paan benarawas wala" which carried the original "Don" to another level of excitement, misses the point completely over here. No one can chew paan (betel leaf) and jive the way Bachchan did in the original.

Don't even look for that feeling here. Farhan Akhtar wants us to escape into a realm of repressed rage and ravishing violence. So where's the question of punishment?

Let's look at this way. The other Don was a rapid-fire morality tale. This one is a slow-burn amorality tale, spiced up with mellow aromatic scents and creates a mood that's distinctly and pungently futuristic.

Don gets full marks for packaging. So much so that the content defines itself through its sleek surface.

Subhash K. Jha