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Don: Does or dies?

The much-anticipated Don has finally released and it is the time for judgement now. As the original released in 1978 set a trend, one would naturally expect the remade version to make a big impact too. Diganta Guha gives the verdict.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2006 18:35 IST

Don--The Chase Begins Again
Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, Boman Irani, Om Puri, Isha Koppikar & Pawan Malhotra
Dir: Farhan Akhtar
Rating: So-so

The much-anticipated Don has finally released. Enough of hype and excitement — it is judgement time now. As the original released in 1978 set a trend, one would naturally expect the remade version to make a big impact too.

After all, it is King Khan stepping into the shoes of Amitabh Bachchan who played the title role in the original. And the responsibility to direct the new version is in the able hands of a young filmmaker who dares to think different (Farhan Akhtar).

The specialty of Farhan is that he keeps you hooked on to your seat till the end, thanks to his gripping screenplay, be it Dil Chahta Hai or Lakshya, but Don is an exception. And this time around it’s the screenplay (Javed Akhtar) that spoils the party.

Farhan has taken a big risk —remake a movie that released in the late ‘70s, the golden age of the masala format. Such storylines have become irrelevant now, so taking off from it is indeed tough. Despite the twists in the plot vis-à-vis the original, the new Don is too long — more than three hours and this is an evidence of Farhan’s predicament — his discomfiture to substantiate the plot. There was a time when the sequences seem to be over imposed. Perhaps, one should have cut it short by some thirty minutes.

Farhan does everything possible to make it relevant in today’s’ context — Don’s diary becomes a chip, he carries a mobile, everything about him and his surroundings is high-tech, but does that salvage the film? No, it doesn’t. It’s the age of films with reality and out here you need to come out with something really exceptional to hit the bull’s eye. And you have to really count on the storyline and its realistic presentation to make a film work. Not that Farhan doesn’t do so, but when the base is weak what else can you do?

When Farhan was making the film, he was aware of the obvious comparisons with the original — even Shah Rukh Khan knew what he was doing, but the argument is that even if you judge it independently, it is too difficult to hold the film in high esteem. Farhan doesn’t leave any scope for it — having included two songs from the original — "Yeh mera dil" and "Khaike paan". "Yeh mera dil has the sexy Kareena Kapoor trying to seduce Shah Rukh, but that Helen touch is missing. However, in terms of picturisation, it scores not as much as the number itself. Sunidhi you have a long way to go to match Asha Bhosle. Khaike is a disappointment be it the Udit Narayan rendition or the picturisation.

A USP of Farhan’s films is its look especially the cinematography. Add to it, Don being a cult film has a lot of action, but they don’t quite live up to the expectations — some baseless ones included. Don dos at times takes you back to the ’70s when you watch the movie — the good vs the evil — revenge against the villains and so on.

One wonders what Isha Koppikar (Anita) and Arjun Rampal (Jasjit) were doing there. One could have used the two more convincingly, but Farhan who is a master when it comes to handling his actors messes things up this time around. Only Priyanka Chopra (Roma) and Boman Irani (ACP D'Silva and…watch the movie to find out) do their jobs as naturally as ever.

And finally a word on the Don. Shah Rukh (in a double role) does everything possible to do justice to the character, but he is too boyish to play Don. And this is probably for the first time in his career that his mannerisms proved costly. It seemed the neutrality was missing. Playing a character in your way is okay, but if that is not convincing enough, what do you do? Like Farhan he too has taken a chance — a big chance. At a time, when his last three films (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Swades and Paheli) haven’t done that well, he is beyond doubt banking on Don (which is why he on a full drive to promote the film). Will Don give him a solo hit? Believe me, Shah Rukh has to count on his charisma to pull it off.

And last but not the least — all those new-age filmmakers who are suffering from the remake fever — think a hundred times before remaking a classic.

First Published: Oct 20, 2006 18:35 IST