Let me make it very clear at the outset that this is my view, and not a definitive guide of what to expect from the movie. So, here we go.
Comparisons are inevitable, but not for me, because the old Don was released much before I was born, and I saw it at the time when such thrillers were being routinely made. All said, the old Don was a cool movie. Come to think of it, it was surely ahead of its time, and hence could fit relatively better in today’s times. Amitabh rocked in the movie!!
Now lets some to the subject of this piece. Don (2006), directed by Farhan Akhtar, and starring SRK, is an intelligent movie, a well crafted thriller, that takes time to involve you, but leaves you satisfied at the conclusion. It is stylish, cool, modern, and very hip. A tad slow at times, the first half doesn’t spring much surprises, with most of the story being same as the earlier Don. That said, it is still watchable, mainly because of SRK. It is refreshing to see him so controlled, and yet so cool and DON’y’ (for want of the perfect word!). Not once does he overacts, and such a restrained performance makes up for a slowish first half. He is very well supported by Boman Irani, who is just remarkable! This man is a true actor. About 20 minutes or so before the interval, the film begins to grow on you, and you actually forget the earlier Don. What I mean to say is, you stop thinking whether this scene is the same, this situation is identical. By this time, the supposed remake has evolved!
The second half is more than just gripping; it just changes the entire texture of the movie! There are a lot of twists and turns, and all of them unpredictable! At the end of it, you have a movie, which has the basic body of the earlier Don, but the character has changed completely. It feels like you have watched a movie which isn’t a remake, but a movie with similar story as the earlier one. That said, it would have been better had this movie not been publicized as a remake, it would have aroused less expectations, and thus made more impact.
SRK outshines himself this time, and manages to act out the character he portrays, be it the innocent Vijay, or the menacing Don. There is not a hint of overacting, and it only shows how much a director’s actor he is. Comparisons would be unfair, lets just say this Don rocks too!!
Priyanka and Isha look good, so does Kareena in a minuscule role. They don’t have much to act, and they manage to support the film in the best possible manner. Arjun Rampal is a tad wooden for an aggrieved man, but his voice makes up for his expressions. Maybe some people do not really act out grief, they just speak and see! Boman Irani is excellent, and the way his character develops, only he could have played this part. He even triumphs over SRK in some scenes! This guy should win some awards. Om Puri has a small part to play, and he is as usual. Actually, he has been wasted!
Cinematography is good, locales are a visual delight. The only sore point is the music. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t consistent. The title track, and the original track rock, while the tracks retained from the earlier Don pass muster. The picturisation of Khaike looks odd when it comes, but at the end you realize why it was like that. Background score is electric, and really complements the mood of the film. Special effects are very well executed, and do not look tacky like they usually do in Bollywood. Stunts are nice too, though nothing extraordinary.
So I come to the most important question. Will this film be a huge hit? The answer would be NO. The reason is not because I liked the movie, but because it is an intelligently made movie, where you have to carefully watch and infer, and remember the clues dropped to you. To enjoy this movie, you have to forget that there was an earlier movie with a similar story. And that’s where the movie will fail, because it has been publicized as a remake, and so the public will go and start making comparisons there, remembering the earlier Don. Also, the sluggish first half won’t help the film, and the classy treatment of this massy plot won’t find universal acceptance. Maybe some high octane stunts, though unnecessary, and some power packed dialogues, in the typical Bollywood style, would have helped the film. But then again, this is not what the movie intended to be, and what Farhan wanted to make, he has made well. This movie has everything it needs, and nothing extra. Even SRK is not the usual hyperactive that he is, and that for me was my money’s worth!
Don ko dekhke bhool paana mushkil hi nahi, namumkin hai.!
P.S.: 7 of us went for the movie, with 3 being perennial SRK haters. Even they appreciated him, and liked the film.