DON - The Chase Begins Again Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film | Action, Thriller
Oct 31, 2006 By Jahan Bakshi

When Shahrukh Khan Mouths what is arguably the corniest line in Farhan Akhtar's new, revved-up Don- 'I am the K-I-N-G!'- You’d better believe him.

A lot of fuss has been made over the remake of Chandra Barot's cult film Don, and more specifically, about Shahrukh Khan taking over the mantle from the towering, original megastar of Indian cinema, Amitabh Bachchan. And thus, let me begin by saying that the 'comparison' was most unnecessary and overblown.

I have not seen the original Don, nor do I intend to do so in the near future. But from what I know of it, and from the parts of it that I have watched- at the risk of sounding both ignorant and arrogant- it is not really what I would call a classic. Okay, here was a stylish film, with some really cool, rabble-rousing lines starring the 'Angry Young Man' in one of his most memorable roles- a trendsetter in its own way, in its own time.

But that certainly doesn't mean that Akhtar's remake of Barot's campy entertainer warrants even half the harsh, acidic criticism it has received. I am, admittedly, among the many in this generation, who tragically, can't quite digest the heavy doses of masala and naïveté that were part and parcel of the unabashedly escapist and entertaining cinema of the 70's. And while it is by no means 'the real thing'- if you please- Farhan Akhtar's film has made it easier for me to see Don, and yes, enjoy it quite a lot.

To borrow from another review- Don is fun if you stop being cynical. Fine, after the giant struggle at the ticket counter- quite routine for an SRK starrer- I didn't exactly freak out on the film- but then, there's not much to complain about either. Don is inherently about coolness and style and you bet Akhtar's film has oodles of it. The young director doesn't seek to top the original; instead he pays homage to a film he obviously adores by reformatting it in a savvy avatar. And adds a few exciting twists of his own.

You have to give it to Shahrukh Khan this time. The actor's casting has undoubtedly been the most controversial part of the new film, with fans livid that he even dared to take on a role immortalized by Bachchan. But then, face it- if there's a true successor to Amitabh in megastar terms, it is him. SRK takes on the role and expectations with elan, and pulls it off in style- paying tribute to his predecessor, but at the same time adding his own inimitable touch.

'I like you', says a gang member.

'I have also always liked me' – there comes the cool reply.

Shahrukh certainly gives a smooth performance as Don and his look-alike, Vijay. I cannot possibly think of any other actor in this generation who could have played Don- there is nobody else today who exudes quite the same larger-than-life feel, that flamboyance, that superstar quality. One swing of his golf club, and the audience rapturously launched into whistles and cheers. After the terrible performance in KANK, here's two thumbs up to the real King Khan.

Priyanka Chopra oozes confidence and sexiness as Roma, with her restrained poise and demeanor, while Boman Irani- the actor for all seasons and genres- continues to impress with an effective, controlled performance- no funniness here, though.

Kareena sizzles in her brief appearance, but her ample thighs and calves are a little scary- they could give any good footballer a complex. Arjun Rampal- constantly accused of being wooden- is pretty good, while Isha Kopikkar doesn't have much of a role to talk of.

While Amitabh's bowties in the original were pretty comical, so are Shahrukh's printed ties worn inside shirts, but other than that, the film is very trendy and modish. I really feel Farhan is a better stylist than a director, and Don clearly proves that- as opposed to the clunky look of the earlier film, the new version is a sleek, polished product. Cinematographer Mohanan indeed does a great job, and the stunts and technical gimmickry is rather impressive too.

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Jahan Bakshi