Friday, October 20, 2006

Don - A Darko of Another Kind

First things first - GAAARGGHH! Filmiholic's beaten me to it (yet again!), proving that her world is indeed more filmi than mine....

So (sniff) my excitement at being able to watch a Hindi movie on its first day of release (with the subsequent pleasure of posting a review) has been diluted somewhat. I shall take comfort in some small facts, which shall become clearer as you read on...

Watching any movie on the first day of its release in India has got to be a unique experience. Add to this the fact that the movie in question stars one of the biggest superstars of Bollywood (King Khan SRK himself) and opens the day before Diwali, and you're pretty much guaranteed that the theatre's going to be packed!

Check out the JACKET yaar!So it was with some discomfiture that I squeezed into my booked well in advance seat, settled down and got ready for the ride. I was curious to see how anyone, even as talented a film maker as Farhan Akhtar, would be able to do justice to an all-time classic like the original. It was always going to be difficult to do justice to a remake - how on earth could you recreate an entire film, capture the magic and also keep an audience engaged - especially one that already knew the story by heart?!

Akhtar went about this in a fairly smart way - he slicked it up, made some significant deviations from the original story, and retained just enough from the original to keep the association between the films alive. Rather than trying to replicate the original frame-by-frame, he's been reasonably liberal in reinterpreting and moulding the story to present an updated version to a much broader audience.

Don feels like more than a Bollywood movie. With some crisp editing, pretty spectacular stunts & props, and some gloss at the right places, Akhtar's packaged a slick flick for a global audience. This film is infinitely more accessible for non-Indian viewers, with its Hollywood-style action pace.

Just enough gloss at the right placesLike Dil Chahta Hai, this film is classically Akhtar, with an urban, contemporary feel to it. Akhtar's cinescape is that of the big modern city - and he has done Kuala Lumpur justice, where most of the film is shot. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Malaysia Tourism sends him a cheque for the best promotional video they could have asked for.

I'm not going to spend my time recounting the storyline here, because most people are too familiar with the original, and I don't want to give away too many of the new twists that Akhtar's factored into the story, because that makes the film more enjoyable. I will however go through some interesting things that caught my attention.

Don's vault - a large steel room, with access through a single door requiring Narang's palm print to deactivate the locks, the vault contains money, diamonds, cocaine, the infamous disc (a red diary in the original) with all those contacts, some ancient Asian sculptures, and - WAIT A MINUTE - is that Edward Munch's "The Scream"? The one that was stolen at gunpoint in August 2004, only to be recovered earlier this year? So we finally know who had it all that time the international hunt for the masterpiece was on...

Bachao - Don mera peechcha kar raha haiSecond thing of note - when Don spots Kamini (Kareena Kapoor) they are both in a nightclub in KL. The scene is incredibly reminiscent of the club scene from Dil Chahta Hai - lots of flashing strobe lights, a dance floor packed with clubbers, alcohol, and pulsating music....hmmm....that beat seems familiar.....hey wait a minute - it sounds like the one from Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe in the club scene in Dil Chahta Hai. Interesting way to build in a signature Mr. Akhtar...

Third thing - Priyanka Chopra. This woman has come a long way, from being a wooden Ms India to a pretty competent screen presence (note the absence of the word actress) Chopra is beautiful, and also very photogenic. She also plays a convincing Roma, out to avenge her brother's death at Don's hands by infiltrating Don's gang. There were several moments when she was on screen that wolf whistles went off all over the cinema (at one point, a particularly distressed man kept wailing, "Sexy" at the screen until he was, I presume, either escorted out or passed out, because the noise died out after some point - I just hope he didn't stop because he had managed to "gratify" himself...)

Laakhon taare aasman mein, ek magar dhoonde na mila...Khaike Paan Banaraswalla - this song made the original movie, and in many ways also cemented Amitabh Bachchan's fan following in his own home state of Uttar Pradesh. Sadly, while King Khan does his best to emulate a paan chewing rustic from the Gangetic plains, high on bhaang and also on the tambaaku in his beeda, this is where you miss the old Bachchan. Khan throws some fairly energetic moves, while Chopra does a good job as well, but you can't help but remember the original. Having said that, I had never thought this particular song would do well as a karaoke number, but at one point, half the audience was going, "Hai, Hai, Haaai" with Don when he sang about ek kanya kuvaanri & ek meethi kataari.

Oh yeah - another good point in the movie is Arjun Rampal. Akhtar coaches out a believable performance from him; there are some creepy moments when he's locked in a coffin, and also when he's hunting down DCP Da Silva. Rampal's also looks convincing in the fight scenes, though his geeky IT consultant image jars just a bit.

Whistle Quotient - highest for Kareena Kapoor for her Yeh Mera Dil number, followed closely by Priyanka Chopra in a bathing suit. Isha Khoppikar didn't get much attention, but seriously, what do you expect when the woman's wearing a maternity frock?!

Isha, girl, you gotta talk to my designer next time...
Disbelief Quotient - pretty low, with the exception of Don flying through mid air like a Patriot missile to zoom in the guy with a parachute. Thankfully, the high wire walk by a lame man with two kids is replaced by a much more believable scene...

Overall Result - go watch it, for some good fun, good thrills and very slick production. Picture mast hai baap...

Images courtesy official movie website

Edward Munch's The Scream courtesy Wikipedia

2 comments:

Maja said...

Love the title of this post :D

Oof, everyone's reviewing Don, I'm feeling left out! I haven't managed to see it yet, I'm hoping to go tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest. Then I'll come back and read all the reviews properly!

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks for the review. I was meaning to see it this weekend, too but unfortunately I am housebound with a nasty cold! arrrggggh!