Don—the Review

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‘Tis the season of remakes. Taking a break from its well-established habit of cannibalizing Hollywood for plot ideas and sequences, the Hindi film industry has decided, almost en masse, to seek inspiration from its own rich celluloid heritage: with a remake of “Don” and “Umrao Jaan” playing in the theatres and a remake of “Sholay” in the works.

Remakes aren’t necessarily a bad idea (as long as proper acknowledgement is being given and copyrights being respected ) especially for movies from earlier eras that have “aged” thematically and/or technically and could do with an effective re-packaging for a new generation of movie-goers.

Which is what Farhan Akthar attempts in Don (2006). Taking a typical 70s style Bollywood potboiler, he scissors out the “dated” psychedelic colors, over-sized bow ties, bell-bottoms and tacky tiger masks (remember the one AB comes out wearing in the song “Main Hoon Don”) while retaining the legendary, oft-repeated lines of the original. On top of that, he layers in novel characterizations, several plot twists and most importantly oodles of camera-angles, split screens, greenish hues, breath-taking locales, stunning set-pieces and Hong Kong-style choreographed fights (as opposed to what in the 70s used to be referred to as “Thrills”).

What emerges is an extremely contemporary, cool-looking escapist fantasy that can compete stylistically with the Bonds and Mission Impossibles of the world.

However Farhan Akthar has a challenge that Steven Soderbergh didn’t have to deal with when he redid “Ocean’s Eleven” on similar lines (which incidentally is an excellent example of a remake that totally reinvented the original). That challenge being that the success of his movie will be critically measured by how well the actor playing the title character can match up to the sheer aura and presence of India’s biggest ever superstar, Amitabh the Big B Bachchan who played Don in the original.

Which is quite impossible—the B cannot be replaced.

People who are expecting a performance from Shahrukh Khan that supplants Amitabh’s will be disappointed with the new “Don”. They will be seen coming out of the theatre shaking their heads saying “Shahrukh Khan is no match for Amitabh Bachchan”. Absolutely true. He is not. He does not have Bachchan’s machismo, his raw screen presence and his amazing dialogue delivery skills.

And here’s the thing. He does not need to. Shahrukh Khan is his own Don—in a way totally different from the role Amitabh essayed in the original. If Amitabh represents the hirsute caveman masculinity of the Sean Connery school of sexiness, Shahrukh Khan epitomizes the more modern David Beckham-Pierce Brosnan ideal of the well-groomed, somewhat wimpy meterosexual for whom a broken nose is preferred to a poorly-ironed suit. Essaying the role of the over-the-top mega-villain in a movie where believability is of no concern, Shahrukh Khan’s lip snarls, goat laugh and quivering eyes do not appear out-of-place for once and actually help him in forging a distinct identity for his character, independent of the towering shadow of the Big B.

This also explains why the weakest part of the movie is during the two song sequences where Farhan Akthar tries to slavishly follow the original —the “Yeh Mera Dil” sequence where Kareena Kapoor totally flops out compared to the command performance from dance-legend Helen and the “Khaike Pan Banaras Wala” where Shahrukh looks like the biggest fraud Banarasi Babu ever. (that song was ideal for the Bachchan version of the Don but not for the SRK one) If only Farhan Akthar had bothered to re-adapt these two songs like he did with the “Main Hoon Doon” song, then he would have had a much stronger product.

In conclusion, I have to say that I went in with very low expectations for “Don”, fearful that I would have to start my review with “Don dekhna mushkil hi naheen namumkin hain”. However I was pleasantly surprised by Farhan Akthar’s clever direction and deft re-characterizations which while not elevating “Don” to anywhere near the level of a masterpiece  still manages to make it deliver on its promise of non-stop, brainless, totally low-brow entertainment.

Which is more than what I can say for the other big budget releases of this year.

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75 thoughts on “Don—the Review

  1. aah..Moi surprised too. Thought that Don will be given a thrashing from your side but you end up praising some parts of it…

    Surprised 🙂

    Cheers,
    HP

  2. dude, is that really our greatbong writing?? your articles used to have the tenor of a Big B dialogue, this one was more like a Shahrukh Khan “goat laugh”… to over-elaborate my point, its like from a Sachin Tendulkar-ish style, you´ve moved to a Saurav Ganguly defensive shot 😛

    ahem

    Sorry, but this article has an uncanny resemblance to something in the papers, and as a regular visitor I have higher expectations.

  3. @HP: Well if I trashed every movie just because people come to read movies getting trashed at RTDM, I will be losing whatever integrity I may claim to have.

    @Rohit: But you didnt have anything to say about this review?

    @Manu: It’s a pity that you come here to see SRK movies getting savaged…..sure if I do not like a movie (which is more often that I would care for) I will give you the Big B dialogue…however this is not one such. In any case, sorry to say, if you were really a cricket lover you would understand that a so-called Sourav Ganguly defense shot (dude, when did you see SG playing defensive shots?) is often also a thing worth appreciating too…when the delivery deserves respect. I go to see a movie with an open mind and if I like certain aspects of it, I will call it as such.

  4. Nice review. The problems with the Manus of the world is, that like the typical Indian viewer, they are unable to rise above their expectations, possibly the reason why Bollywood is so frightened of breaking the mould. If SRK has to do the “goat laugh”, he has to do it every movie, if GB has to spoof and rip apart a movie, he has to do it everytime. I liked the way you logically explained why you liked this movie which is what distinguishes your reviewing style from that of the newspaper-wallahs.

  5. Actually havent seen the movie…and i am a die-hard hater of shahrukh…so i dont think i’ll watch it either…but i was expecting some khan-bashing…well maybe next time….

    oh yeah and completely agree with your comments on Kareena though….she’s no match for Helen….

  6. @Rohan : “The problems with the Manus of the world” , “the typical Indian viewer”, “unable to rise above their expectations”

    Please to be explaining these statements sir…..i mean on the one hand you begin your posts with such maybe-well-intentioned statements and you go on to write a post which is against generalizations SRK-goat laugh, DB-satire blah blah and what not…Dont blame us for not taking you seriously…

  7. @Rohit: Could you kindly explain what YOU are trying to say, instead trying your hardest to get in your comment FIRST? (Talk about being juvenile).

    And oh: “…..i mean on the one hand you begin your posts with such maybe-well-intentioned statements ”

    I comment. GB posts. Kindly note the difference. And once you realize the difference between the two as well as the juvenility of getting in your comment first, maybe I will take you seriously.

    Here is my point repeated again. Manu and people like him come to read RTDM with a pre-determined mindset, maybe because like you they are SRK bashers. Most Indian audiences also come to the theatre with a pre-determined mindset, in this case to see SRK ham. If SRK tries to do something different (as in Swades), people totally reject him. Similarly here is GB saying something different, and backing it up with a line of reasoning which I ,having seen the movie, agree with. Why are you (since you have stepped in for Manu) unable to see that GB does not have to bash every SRK movie just because it IS a SRK movie and because readers come here “expecting him to”?I would personally lose a lot of respect for GB if inspite of liking a movie, he would just play to the audience for a few laughs. It would show that though he expects artistic and intellectual honesty in everyone else (a recurring theme of his posts), he does not apply the same standards to himself.

    Fortunately he is not like that and this post is a vindication of it.

    So finally is your problem (and Manu’s) with GB liking the movie or is it with GB not delivering a Sachin Tendulkar shot as you have come to expect, something that is impossible to do unless someone really hates a movie?

  8. @HP: Correction. I meant “do you expect me to trash every SRK movie?”

    @Rohit: All I can say to you is that if you are a “die-hard hater” of SRK then that may prevent you from being objective in evaluating his work, just like the “die-hard fan” laps up everything he does as being masterpieces (remember all his recent movies have been hits). I would gently suggest not to be a die-hard hater of anything in the world and give everyone a chance to be judged fairly without any pre-existing bias. I also do not appreciate SRK’s over-acting but in the context of the over-the-topness of the whole movie, it is not as jarring as he was in say Asoka or Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna.

    @Rohan: Thank you for getting it. As I said, it is not high art but it is fast-paced and enjoyable in a light-hearted sort of way. I am also somewhat amused at the reaction because everytime I write a review savaging a Bollywood movie, I will invariably get a few comments on the lines of “Don’t you like any Hindi movie?” and “Why do you always have to crib?” and “Why do you watch Hindi movies if you hate ALL of them”. At the very least, I can in the future point them to this review.

  9. Naah..Not at all Mate!!

    Always been a fan of his light-hearted movies and believed that he could have got an award for Swades!

    Just that all of my friends were not that highly appreciative of this movie, so I kinda expected a review on those lines…Nothing sinister actually…

    btw, have not seen Don..Just have been reading reviews… 🙂

    Cheers,
    HP

  10. @HP: No nothing sinister assumed :-). The thing in appreciating this movie is that whether you like or hate it critically depends on whether you are able to decouple the two movies….and I feel Farhan Akthar has introduced sufficiently new material into the new Don so as to make it possible to make that disconnect. If he had slavishly followed the original, then the SRK performance would have made Don a washout, just like the Khaike Pan Banaraswala song.

  11. Pingback: DesiPundit » Archives » Don

  12. Yes I have noticed that several times. You forgot to mention the great Proud Indian Producer from Rang De Basanti times who will inform you how a Bollywood movie will make in a minute what you earn in an year or some other crap. Where has he vanished to?

  13. I thought the movie was just about average – though I liked SRK in his role; as you said no match for AB, but why the comparison? SRK played the cool don pretty well – and yes, Priyanka looked hot hot hot; There should have been more of this lady in the movie hehe 🙂

    Though that said, I thought the movie was quite bland – the first hour was almost boring and going nowhere, though the second half picked up pretty decently.

    All in all, just the kind of fare I have come to expect Farahan Akhtar to deliver. Baring DCH, his movies are all style and oomph, but less on content.

    S

  14. @GB,

    You do have some passion for movies 🙂

    I asked it on DP too but whats your opinion of Ab’s Kaalia? probably, you can do a review of your favourite AB movies or just your fav movies…

    Had loved reading through the posts you made on Satyajit Ray!

    A retrospective on this site would be fun!

    Cheers,
    HP

  15. And oh, I think the old Don itself was a very average movie hehe 🙂 – I was amused why Farhan Akthar decided to remake an old B grade movie in the first place. And then ppl complain new Don is not as good as old – well, the old was not that great either!

    S

  16. Good review Great B !!! Truely, Big B was a genious that time – no doubt about that and this movie is also watchable. Although the value added was not so much as expected from a class of Farhan Akthar (except for the locations and action sequences).

    However, I believe that there is a hypocrisy involved in the Farhan Akthar’s intentions. If he believes that he has given us a new movie, with new characters, and he doesnot want us to compare with the old one – why the hell did he named the movie same and “adopted” the song sequences from the old one. It seems that he wants us to come to the theatre and compare the movies – but doesn’t want criticism because they are “different”. If similar story with ‘XYZ’ title was released, it would not get this headstart. And idea is that more he can involve audience (in comparing), more business he would get.

    Remake of a classic movie is fine, but a re-made thriller looked kind or artificial to me (like some of the plots that unravels towards the end). A remake can never be a block buster – unless the old one is forgotten. Moreover, it kills the original film. I am sure that everyone will get kind of biased when they go back and see the old one now.

  17. Don, Umrao Jaan and Sholay.
    All three of them are not that “old”, hence most of movie watchers have already seen and marvelled at them ( or disliked them like Suyog).
    So comparison is but obvious. They should start with remake of real oldies of Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar etc. (at least I have not seen their movies )
    I only saw new “Devdas” and found it ok.

    On remake of Sholay: If 20 years from now, someone watches “new” Sholay and disliked the characterization or the plot or music or locales etc. and does not care to watch the original movie worst if he or she says “how can this *plot* become such a big hit”.
    Isn’t that unfair to likes of Amjad Khan, Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya B, Salim-Javed, Sippy, Basanti etc….

    *We cant ask some to watch the orginal movie first and then the remake*

    Me thinks; Go ahead with remakes, but name of the movie should be changed.

    For e.g.
    New Don>> Main hoon Don or Peachno kaun hai Don…

    New Sholay>> Thakur ka intekam or Chambal ka Gabbar or Jai aur Veeru or Yeh Dosti hum nahi todege or Basanti aur Dhanu
    What say guys 🙂

  18. I think what this review is missing is the usual humour that you have in your articles. (Apart from “Don dekna mushkil …” – that split me up 🙂 )

    Aside :

    “Don – a review” and “Don – The review” , is there a difference? I searched our friend google and found that “the” is used to specify uniqueness (one of a kind). The movie remake was anything but …

  19. Was stunned to read the review…

    … in my opinion, it was the screenplay which was good(!) and it might have given the necessary punch and a shock… and to an extent Boman Irani who, usually, is an amazing actor…

    The problem with SRK is whenever he plays a character… you find SRK and not the character in the movie… ( unlike KK or Boman Irani who are always true to the characterization)

    but anyway, its your review so be it that way

  20. @Rohan: Oh yes….quite miss him actually.

    @Suyog: The thing is that yes Don is a B-grade 70s masala flick. In the same way that Amar Akbar Anthony is. Personally I prefer Don as it did have a moderately original premise—-remember the Mission Impossible idea of masks and the Face Off principle does have a resemblance to the premise of Don. It was a good candidate for a remake and all that I was looking for was smart lines, awesome production values and overall slickness. And I got it.

    Compared to Krrish which was a hodgepodge of several Superhero movies, ‘Paycheck” with a weak villain, a dancing protagonist and not one single line…

    @HP: Have not seen Kaalia…a blot on my career :-). And yes a retrospective on Ray is definitely on.

    @Amit: It was essential for Farhan to cite his source—after all else he would become a Mahesh Manjrekar or Sanjay Gupta ! This should be advertised as a remake but a remake is allowed to deviate from the original……the plot superstructure and the script have been kept untouched as much as possible. Again I agree that the song sequences should have been done differently and that is where the new Don suffers the most.

    @Sam:

    New Don–>Mujhe Junglee Billi Pasand Hain
    New Sholay–> Tumhara Naam Kya Hain Basanti
    New Umraojaan–> AB and Ash make love on the sets while JP Dutta looks on

    @Amit: Tell me how it went.

    @Puneet: In my defense, I was not trying to be funny but trying to give an analysis. The “The” here refers to my review…for every movie review I have the template “Movie Name—the Review” since that’s the ONLY review I am going to do for the movie. In other words, I am not saying that this is THE definitive review EVER but that is THE definitive review I am going to do.

    @Kalpesh: Those are also my very lines…I have used them many times…SRK can only play himself. Or rather what SRK thinks the public wants..in this case however, the hamming helps him craft an unique identity for Don (who is not supposed to be an everyday, normal kind of guy)…just like it helped in “Baazigar’…..I still remember that laugh before he skewers Madan Chopra. Problem is that he does the same thing in ALL movies…whether it be Emperor Asoka or a husband who has fallen out of love with his wife. I think the script of ‘Don” was smart and performances decent…which is why I much prefer it over Krrish which had neither but was pretty slickly done too.

    @Watcher: But what problem do you have with Amit saying that? I mean one can say who gives a damn that you don’t give a damn. Not that nice is it?

  21. “not elevating “Don” to anywhere near the level of a masterpiece” – You are trying to tell me the original was a masterpiece? Or did I just pluck out just the sentence to make my point? They are all just simply hideous. Yeah, women/heroines are more chiseled nowadays but there are no story lines since the bengali novel- to- hindi movie scripts dried out.Believe me I try. I try to sit through one with friends and family but I make such a nuisance of my self with snide comments that I end up feeling bad. Believe me I try…honest. What can I do to bring myself to watch this trash again and somewhat enjoy ?I need help. Please help !!It’s a personal plea so I can change my mindset and “somewhat” tolerate a Hindi movie.Any ideas?

  22. @Surath: Where did I say that the original was a masterpiece? What I said was that even with the new additions to the story and the overall slickness, Don is still nowhere near a masterpiece.

    As to the definition of a masterpiece, please realize that there are different genres and each genre defines its concept of own masterpiece. Noone is talking about Ray and Kurusawa or even Hrishikesh Mukherjee here. The genre under discussion is the brainless, stylized action flick of the MI and James Bond type where the criteria for masterpieceship is unique. Shifting goalposts a bit, “Gunda” is A masterpiece. Period. A masterpiece for its genre. That being ‘nonesense on celluloid’.

  23. [GB adds: This comment has spoiler.]

    Arnab, just a thought, w.r.t. what you say about the Khaike song not being suited to SRK’s Don: in the light of the ending, which reveals that for part of the film it was Don impersonating Vijay (rather than the other way around), I thought the Khaike sequence was quite apt to the general playfulness of this new Don – an inherently dangerous guy who just decides to have some fun and sing a bumpkin song. Seemed like just the sort of thing he would do to mindf!*# the people around him (Priyanka Chopra etc)

    Also appreciate your comments about trying to judge things without a pre-existing bias. Sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to say a single good thing about SRK without the world queueing up to rap you on your knuckles.

  24. @GB, good you did not trash the movie. I was disappointed to see the two stars dished out by Raja Sen, usually he gets stuff right. I loved Don, simply because it has got the BEST production values ever in Indian movies. Oh, and I loved the background score, it was good entertainment.

    The thing is Don won’t appeal to people who are die-hard Big B fans, they just cannot accept SRK to take on Big B. No way. For me, when I am not watching serious movies, I just enjoy movies which are technically brilliant (aka Oldboy renamed Zinda).

    @Suyog, when you say Don is an average movie, do you mean it’s an average in it’s genre ? I agree with you in the context of comparing it with “meaningful” cinema. But in the Bond-meets-MI genre I think it scores quite well.

  25. Sorry GB.

    Am a bit late on this post of yours, but have to disagree with you here.

    I think the new Don stinks. Forget comparing it to the original. The remake is an insipid, cold, hammy and flawed piece of work by a director who demonstrated so much promise with his first film.

    The film is and looks like the spoiled creation of the son of an over-indulgent father. The plot twists do not make sense and are quite heavy-handedly executed.
    FA tries a Ang Lee-like scene-in-scene treatment in some of the sequences. For what? Only he knows. (Ang Lee’s treatment was a homage to the original medium of Hulk. Comic Books.)

    Forget wimpy metrosexuality…SRK, he gives a brilliant performance as SRK. Not Don. Or the new age Don. He sounds like he is just happy mouth lines like “Namumkin” and “Don ke dushman”.

    PROBLEMS
    1. Why the hell does Boman Irani suddenly start monologing in the sequence before Interval? And he looks quite unfit for a top cop. Not to mention, too cute for a super-villain. Actually, you actually feel sorry for the guy as he gets beaten up in the last scene.

    2. If, according to the twist, the ‘fake’ Don is actually the ‘real’ Don, there’s no reason for his singing ‘Khaike Paan’. Except for the fact that SRK ‘wants’ to do that song, period…plot, characterisation jaaye bhaarh mein!

    There are others, but a busy day calls.

    Personally, I think the original Don was not a classic in same lines as a “Deewar” or “Sholay”. A campy cult movie, at best.

  26. Yourfan
    @GB: With the apprehension of Watcher’s comment of who gives a damn about my likings or disliking; I must say I am not a great fan of anybody. But I liked KANK for the theme and I liked SRK in KANK minus his same mannerism. I have seen Don and I totally agree with your review. Why do people consider Kareena to be sexy? Helen at much older age than Kareena’s looked so sexy and that is a womann’s admission!!
    I have seen new Pareenita which was way different from the original and I liked the new Pareenita for the same reasons that you gave in your review of Don. But I must confess I did not like the remake of Devdas as it was way over the top with all that scenes of SRK drinking and falling off like bowling pins.

    @ Rohan: I think this blog’s ‘proud Indian Producer’ is nursing his wounds from the free fall he got for not ‘making in a minute what GB makes in a year’. Everything in this world goes in a circle. He is eating his own pride and arrogance now and hence the absence.

  27. Hi I am The New Reader Of Blog and want to add up more views regarding the above topic .I have Recently seen this movie.I totally agree with u that Big B has no match with Shahrukh Khan but in this movie Shahrukh has come up to the expectation of an “Arrogant and Cruel Young Man”.In my opinion Person to be critisied is “Faran Akhtar” who gave an illogical curve to the story.The Concept Was Good But the way shoule be more explainatory……

    Eager To Listen ur Views About My Opinion……
    Manjari

  28. GB, thanks for calling out ‘Oceean’s 11’. That’s the movie I was most reminded of in terms of remaking a fondly remembered, but not very well made so-called ‘classic’. After watching the movie I was going through the reviews of the new Don in the desi papers. Unfortunately the ghost of the old Don hovers over every review & it is impossible to find anyone in MSM reviewing it for waht it is. In its own terms, I believe Farhan Akhtar’s Don holds up quite well. It doesn’t have an original bone in its body, but as a genre exercise that seeks to replicate a Mission Impossible in an Indian mileu (though its mostly in Kualalumpur :-)) it succeeds in that it is technically adept & is enjoyable to boot. That is more than what you can say for most Bollywood ‘thrillers’. And seeing the very enthusiastic word of mouth from my friends, it has definitely hit some kind of a nerve. But that said, I am quite torn about this movie.

    A problem I have had is that since there is a sense of deja vu over every scene (not from the original movie, which I barely remember save the songs, but the Hollywood DNA running through it), nothing comes as a surprise. Even the much talked about twists have been telegraphed ahead, though it is easy to fall in to the trap of the usual Bollywood leaps of logic & wonder how a country bumpkin can learn those smooth Don moves in so short a time. But was that something Farhan had planned? Was it reverse psychology or lazy film making? Did Farhan spend more time on the look & feel of the movie than the good old plot? After all, it is easy to hide that with the techno beats, Priyanka’s tai chi moves, Kareena’s dancing & SRK’s larger-than-life screen persona.

    Intelligent design from Farhan? Or has the Bollywood audience evolved & like taking out bones from a fish admire the good parts of the movie & trash the bad? As a (irregular) Bollywood audience, I have definitely enjoyed many of the parts of the new Don. I wish it were a little more original, half hour shorter & avoided that whole Arjun Rampal & the airplane fight sequence. I would have liked it more that way. I was tempted to include the sheer implausibility of the mechanics behind the final twist, but then it is Don we are talking about here, not Dead Man Walking!

  29. I haven’t seen Don yet, so can’t comment on it. But when you do a remake of such a hit movie that had the industry’s biggest superstar as hero, you can’t expect to get away from comparison. And IMHO you shouldn’t get away too. As soon as you admitted that it’s a remake, you give up your right of saying “See it for what it is, don’t compare”. However, we can do an overall comparison and judge the movie rather than comparing point by point, like Big B vs SRK, Helen vs Kareena and so on.
    When we make a film on an existing book/novel that had been filmed before (like Devdas), we can ask people to do away with the comparison. But not when the original movie was made with its own story.

  30. I watched DON Sunday NIGHT and have simillar opinion.

    When you compare with Earlier DON….this movie is no where..OLD DON is still enough spellbounding to keep us on toes all the three hours.

    While New DON came good in PATCHES. We returned smilling because last 20 minutes of the movie are really good and catching.

    ‘Khaike pan’ song brings speedy movie to a stagnant pond like state.

    In a serious business deal, with his big boss, SRK aka DON gets up and starts dancing with ISHA and PRiya. I felt like he is bringing DONs karishma to dust.

    Needless to mention about kareena.

  31. i think “Khaike Pan Banaras Wala”, is one of the highs of the film, the choreography and i think if u want to see the star shahrukh, its the song !!!

  32. with this new DON, a bizarre thing happened. after being thrashed in and out by every critic, the film saw a disappointing initial collection and was on the verge of getting a disaster label. but thanks to the SRK brand, it managed to pull off a miracle by performing exceptionally well from the 2nd week on. this proves the brand value of SRK once again. just when the film was about to disappear, crowds re-emerged. with low expectations, thanks to the reviews, they came to the film only because it’s an SRK one. Had it been a salman/akshay/whoever movie, it could never attract crowd solely based on an individual. such is the brand factor. and with such low expectations at the back of their head, the movie suddenly looked enjoyable to them by the virtues of some stylish presentation and neat packaging. kudos to Farhan Akhtar. lucky Shahrukh, one might say! his KANK suffered the other way around, if u remember. also, the woes of Umrao added to the Don’s survival. what an irony; ash has one more reason to CRY, i guess! LOL 🙂

  33. Dear greatbong,
    And again you let me down with your reply…
    “@Manu: It’s a pity that you come here to see SRK movies getting savaged…..sure if I do not like a movie (which is more often that I would care for) I will give you the Big B dialogue…however this is not one such. In any case, sorry to say, if you were really a cricket lover you would understand that a so-called Sourav Ganguly defense shot (dude, when did you see SG playing defensive shots?) is often also a thing worth appreciating too…when the delivery deserves respect. I go to see a movie with an open mind and if I like certain aspects of it, I will call it as such.”

    I never said that I like to see SRK movies- or any movie for that matter, getting savaged. It is about the way you wrote the article- just lacked the usual punch.
    – see, its not about the Big B dialogue- its the Big B dialogue delivery that matters.

    Its also possible to be funny without making fun of something- you´ve done that several times yourself (the desibaba article comes to mind). And infact its also possible to be really interesting, without being funny- you´ve shown us that too.. But reviews like this- and the one about the book before, weren´t quite…

    Had all the elegance of saurav Ganguly facing a McGrath short ball… ha ha

    Yep seen a bit of cricket- but don´t remember seeing SG playing defensive shots- no time for watching domestic cricket 😛

  34. Dear GB,
    Have been following ur blog for a long while – really enjoy ur movie reviews.though of late I was gettin a little weary as u seemed to be ripping apart every movie tht u reviewed – this one was a welcome change and one of the most objective reviews of the new ‘Don’.I agree with your review on most points though I will reserve the phrase “totally low-brow entertainment” only for Govinda or Mithunda (Not implying that they are not enjoyable). There is only one question that remains unanswered in the context of the twist at the end of this movie – if Don replaced Vijay in the hospital, how did he identify ‘Deepu’ – Arjun Rampal’s kid in the school? Guess thts a loophole.Take care and keep writing.

  35. When greatbong doesn’t pull a movie until you literally start rolling on the floor, he is positive about the movie. I cent percent agree with you. People while talking about new don do two things. Elevating old DON to where it shouldn’t be and putting new DON to abyss where it shouldn’t be either. your review is apt

  36. @Sudipta : It wasn’t the plothole. If you look at it closely, SRK doesn’t realise who is Deepu until Deepu starts running towards him and although SRK is not a big actor, I think he showed near to perfect expressions on that particular shot

  37. Interesting review. I have heard similar things from others, and also heard how abs. BS it is as well; which I guess is typical for any Hindi movie 🙂
    Remakes of any kind should never be compared to the original material. Ever. I’ve been guilty of it too. Good to see you avoided that.

  38. @Jabberwock: [Spoiler response]: If Don is now Vijay, should he not try to make the Banarasibabu thing a bit more convincing? After all this is a Kaizer Soze character we are talking about here—he knows everything.

    @S. Pyne: Why relieved? That I actually liked something? 🙂 So have you seen new “Don”?

    @Dipesh: I agree—in the MI/Bond genre, the new Don performs admirably.

    @Rahul Ghosh: Sure the original Don was campy. However as I said before it has an interesting premise and in my opinion it has been adapted well for a new generation by Farhan Akthar. I did not like “Lakshya” and let me go out on a limb and say I think DCH is a nice movie…but way overrated.

    @Yourfan: The SRK Devdas was a monstrosity where Paro (who happens to be “poor”) lives in a dwelling which is less a house and more a cathedral and the “house of ill repute” with the thousand lamps looks like Las Vegas. That movie is soo over-the-top in everything…..it is a total assault on all senses and sensibility.

    @Manjari: In trying to give the movie the big twist, Farhan Akthar sacrifices on story consistency and creates a hundred questions. But this is escapist fare and not a theorem that is being proven. So to the hell with plot holes !

    @Tipu: The sense of deja vu I felt was because most of the sequences were variations of things we have already seen…..the opening sequence had some resemblance to the opening sequence of “The World is Not Enough”, the plane fight sequence with “US Marshals/Con Air” …to Farhan’s credit he changes things around a bit unlike Rakesh Roshan in Krrish who was too lazy to even change the look of the “Time Machine” that he lifted in toto from “Paycheck”.

    @Joy Forever: Well you need to say it is a remake because otherwise if you do not, it looks like plagiarism (i.e. not crediting your source). Comparisons are inevitable but only if you are slavishly following the source. I think Farhan Akthar has made sufficiently marked changes for which a case could be made to evaluate this as a stand-alone movie and look upon it as just a different adaptation of the original story with SRK being a different kind of villain than AB was.

    @Abhijit: I disagree in that I feel that the old Don was also good in patches and was not a very well-made movie in its entirety.

    @Alok: My advice is that if you “go to see the star”, get a telescope and look up at the nightsky. If you want to see “acting” then go and see a movie.

    @Nikhil: At last ! Just goes to show that there are some movies even I like.

    @Vuttaa: Well SRK is a brand and like AB can carry off a movie commercially on his shoulders. It is a pity that he is considering how he has not evolved as a actor since the 90s but such is vox populi.

    @Manu: Lacks the usual punch? Maybe because I did not want to give it “any punch”—is that a consideration that you may kindly consider? This blog isnt just a humor blog with punches..you know !

    @Sudipta: As Nishit points out, I seem to recollect the kid coming in and identifying Vijay/Don when he was fighting with Arjun Rampal.

    @Nishit: Thanks..

    @SEV: BS it may be. But it is enjoyable with the blasts from the past coming in the form of the classic Salim-Javed dialogues that defined “cool” for an entire generation.

    @Money4nothing: Mm…interesting reader’s comments…always nice to see true fans.

  39. I enjoyed Don for what it was worth.I thought it was quite slick, the girls were used well and it was definitely stylish and you give me Boman Irani in any form, it is a total treat. I so enjoyed your review.was getting tired of all the comparison and thrashing.

  40. Pingback: links for 2006-11-08 « Forming and Storming

  41. Arnab: Don first sees the kid (Deepu) when he and Priyanka Chopra go to the school during the lunch-break. And as Nishit points out, SRK does a neat double-take when he sees the kid running towards him. That scene confirmed my suspicions about the final twist.

  42. My only complain was the Kareena Kapoor song. I insist that if any woman removes her clothing in a seductive manner then it must be unbuttoned from the top and not from the bottom. What’s wrong with her?

  43. I have watched the original Don over 150 times easy……and I can say that I will not be watching SRK’s Don again after the premier viewing- ek bari kafi hai!

    I’d much rather have seen Akshay as Don. He would have done it more justice IMO.
    Are you kidding me Arjun RamPal for Pran??? Could have done a much better job of casing.

    Kareena is a joke. Helen’s dance goes amongst the top 3 of all time. Here are the others in no particluar order:

    Helen in Don: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICDHiw74aQY
    Shikdum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwsO76Isuko&search=dhoom
    Kandukondain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzirIIfa2-s

    Now Amitabh as Gabbar…..thats a different story! Imagine Big B “Kitne Aadmi they” and that incessant laughter. Come on Sascha Sippy, don’ mess it up for the rest of us.

    Ekdo3

  44. I have to agree in parts with Manu. When I first read the review, I was astonished…for a moment I thought I was reading the wrong blog…thats not beacuse GB did not tear up the movie, but because of the writing style. It made for fantastic reading though due to his sheer analytical skills. It was actually more James Berardinelli than GB’s own inimitable style. In any case it was a very nice review although I dont think that SRK is a great actor by any stretch of imagination.

    As GB said, the director tried to innovate and not try to appear larger than himself…hence the remake of an old but nice and popular B film is a B- effort…and a superior one considering some other trash releases this year. I saw the movie and I didnt like it as there was no new themes or layers which the director tried to highlight. But in a relative sense, its better than pukable trash like say KANK …and thats solely beacuse of the director understanding the limitations of both himself and his project and not trying to con the audeince by pulling a rabbit out the hat. I would not belabor more on this movie as I am nowhere as educated in the nuances of Bollywood and the history of Hindi movies as an authority like GB.

    However the reader will be doing a big mistake if he expects only a unidimensional writing style from this great blogger- his writing is like a wolf in a sheep’s clothing, its much more versatile than you imagine and has many other facets which have hitherto not been exemplified on this blog. GB will know what I mean. 🙂

  45. Well I’ve seen the movie twice in a single week -don’t ask – (suffice to say i was forced both times against my will). Strangely i came out the first time quite irritatedwith the movie, but the second viewing was far more enjoyable – Go Figure! But the movie is certainly worth a watch (make that a capital A with underlining)

  46. Nice review GB…but I have a few observations.

    Like you I believe that one cant be true if one is not objective enuf to hide inherent bias. Man by nature is always biased and this can be owing to many reasons. So going to watch a movie just to deride an actor or to slavishly lap everything up doesnt bring objectiveness.

    I saw and liked Don in a way I like to watch James Bond movies. Our liking Bond movies dont rest on credulity, but the very opposite. The new Don was a far superior product than the original. As time goes by even mediocre movies are assigned tags such as masterpieces. AB’s don was a B- grade flick at the most and it also required as to really stretch our numbed brain cells by believing that a village simpleton can pass of as a suave gangster without anyone finding out. At least in Farhan Akthar’s Don, that part is believable…

    Anyways I thought most of the songs were well picturised and choreographed, except that I hated the song ‘Yeh mera dil’…at least the ‘khaike pan…’ song was well choreographed.

    SRK’s was his own interpretation and it does stand apart from AB’s and there is no need to compare. AB did what ppl then wantd and SRK does what people expect of him now…he sets cash registers ringing, so one cant blame him can we. He did something different in Swades and look what happened. At least he is much bettr than the other Amir ‘Pretenscious’ Khan, who makes the world believe that he acts only in ‘quality’ films and then goes and does a ‘Rang de Basanti’ and a ‘Fanaa’.

    Sorry for the long comment though…have been a regular visitor to your site since teh 1-900-hotties and mithunism writeups 🙂

    Rahul

  47. “…everytime I write a review savaging a Bollywood movie, I will invariably get a few comments on the lines of “Don’t you like any Hindi movie?” and “Why do you always have to crib?” and “Why do you watch Hindi movies if you hate ALL of them”. At the very least, I can in the future point them to this review.”

    Was this the real purpose behind giving a favorable review to a truly terrible (IMO) movie?

    I guess it was not as bad as Rand De Basanti, eh?

  48. shan : “Was this the real purpose behind giving a favorable review to a truly terrible (IMO) movie?”

    Ah, here comes the highbrow_I_like_Kurosawa_and_everything_else_is_trash brigade. Probably the favorable review is ‘cos GB has some audience in his blog who are a bit low on intellectual content, like me. Got to keep them happy once in a while. But I am confused with your question as well, you say ‘truly terrible IMO’, clearly that’s not GB’s opinion.

  49. @Shan: Sigh. The problem with you is that the moment you have a disagreement, it somehow becomes all about finding a motive. That is you are unable to accept the fact that I can praise a movie simply because I “like” it. The underlying assumption of your comment is that I am a hypocrite to the core, I do not say what I think and my opinions reflect an agenda. Sigh. If you really think I am like this i.e. you have no respect for me as a person (since you think I am a hypocrite), I fail to see why you keep visiting my site.

    In any case, stepping aside from your personal biases I hope you are able to understand that different genres have different standards. So when I say “Sakha Prosakha” is a middling bit of work from Ray, it makes no sense for someone to say: ” You liked “Don” but you did not like Sakha Prosakha?” because there are different standards for judging different genres. As to RDB, my objection was the pulp activism that was used to promote it and the way it shows violence as a means to solving today’s problems. Since I do not see the risk of people seeing “Don” and shooting people because they did not like their shoes, I can safely use different criteria for evaluating the two movies.

  50. @Arnab: Don’t be so thin-skinned, please. If I didn’t like your blog, I wouldn’t have been coming back. I do have differences of opinion with you, mostly over movies, and I make them known. And where does the question of thinking you are a hypocrite arise? Inconsistent maybe, but hypocrite? Never crossed my mind.

    On the subject at hand, now you have a readymade, foolproof, answer which now excludes all future discussions or debate on movies or any other text for that matter i.e.

    “…I can safely use different criteria for evaluating the two movies.”

    True, but that basically takes away incentive to disagree with your reviews, or even comment on them, (unless they are in agreement or in support). Because we, the readers, can never know which criteria you, the writer, are using to review a particular text. So all comments are now void. Everything is your opinion based on your criteria, therefore truly unimpeachable (and I am not being sarcastic here).

    So you can, and will, choose a certain yardstick, say, production values, and proclaim Don a fine film, while, I will choose a different one, say, direction, and say it is complete trash. Both might be correct, no? The beautiful thing about using this formula is – no one can ever be wrong! Both Don and Shakha Proshakha can be great movies as well, if I am comparing them to Suraksha and Hirok Rajar Deshe / Ganashatru respectively.

    Finally, there was really no reason to react as vehemently as you did. A simple – “Shan, here you go again” would have sufficed besides being wittier. I have been commenting long and frequently enough for you to know by now that I am not a one-dimensional troll who just appears on your blog to flame you (that would be The Great Indian Producer, maybe). We actually think alike on more issues than we differ on.

    Anyway, it’s your blog, and it’s your prerogative. If you so wish, I will not comment henceforth.

  51. @Shan: I would say that it is you who are being thin-skinned here by saying “If you do not want me to comment, I will not come.” Firstly if I did not want you to comment, I would just ban your IP and that would be the end of that. Of course that is not the case.

    Now an yardstick eg production values is very different from a genre. Sakaprosakha belongs to a different genre than say Night of the Living Dead and this classification into genres is *not something I do out of my convenience and my whims*. Ergo when I go to see “Don” I will be comparing it with movies of similar themes—say Suraksha and MI and Bond (and not RDB) Within that frame of reference, I found it to be quite good and this is an assertion I have tried to logically establish.

    You could have said: “Don is crap”. Which is fine–your opinion. You could have said “Your line of reasoning is faulty” and said why you think so. That is fine too. But what you say is that ” GB does not really like this movie but he is pretending to do so such that a few of his readers are mollified”. In essence, you are accusing me of a kind of intellectual dishonesty which I find objectionable, simply because you have no proof or a line of reasoning deduced from a past pattern. And I think I have a right to point that out without being termed “thin-skinned”.

    As a regular visitor to the blog and having been witness to some of the comment attacks I have endured, I would have thought that “thin-skinned” would not be the adjective that comes to your mind about me

  52. Oh Please! SRK doesn’t forge himself as DON and is rather disappointing. If not for the clever twist at the end this movie would a mega-flop. Farhan’s style of slowing the movie down to a lethargic pace in the middle doesn’t help the movie one bit and neither does the script with full of faulty holes which could have been plugged easily..

    Kareena as Helen “shook” me out of my blissful sleep in “Yeh mere dil pyar ka deewana” but as she walks away with DON holding an empty gun without a sign of struggle (Helen atleast tried) quickly put me back to sleep.

    So.. Purane DON ko replace karna mushkil he nahin, na mumkin hain.

  53. U R right Srinivas.
    This is new century. Make something, this generation can accept. Direction of movie is totally unacceptable.
    Worst look and acting of Shahrukh in his career.
    Make your own image than coping others Shahrukh. And specially not Amitji. KAhan RAja Bhoj,Kahan Gango Teli!
    Well,I don’t want to say too much about it. Smart people will understand.

    Thanks for reading it.

  54. Bong,
    Very unusual review from your side. This is almost perfect material to get good thrashing from you, but maybe the low expectations did the trick 😉
    Another pretty unusual stuff happened in my rss reader. Your feed mysteriously disappeared. Its gonna take some time before I catch up with all your articles.

  55. @GB: Just saw “Don” on your reco and am I glad I did. The review is spot on. Fantastic job by FA minus 2 homage songs: “Khaike..” and “Yeh mera dil…” and the huge casting and characterisation disaster of Arjun Rampal.
    But overall, excellent new millennium style lowbrow but stylish, racy, hard-edged escapism. I loved the spin Farhan and SRK put on the original Salim-Javed potbolier: They’ve turned Don/Vijay into kind of Jason Bourne gone bad and desi. I really liked it, especially the focus on Don versus Vijay, Boman being Boman, damn good… OK, this is not the original, which was Salim-Javed doing a Zanjeer spinoff: reworking the Bachchan-Pran dynamic in film noir (which worked so well since Bachchan was on top of his game) but in many respects it’s better: especially the 21st century style FX, a true Hollywood style mid-air fight, Hong Kong style acrobatic stunts, and a few other well executed hi-jinks, with SEL doing a good approximation of the original background soundtrack. The best commercial Hindi flick I’ve seen since Munnabhai MBBS. Two thumbs up.

  56. FA’s direction???? was it that GOOD really? I mean how come people forget the scene where Arjun carries his son on his back while walking on the rope. Except there was no rope and really a vast area where ten people could walk easily without falling down. Why did he carry him??? DUH!

    Moreover Don was shown emotionally driven carrying grudges with everyone in the gang plus the boss. How does it make him different? How does that make his smart? Silly twists. Except the final one.

    Yes it was slick. Everything else fell flat. even when not compared to AB’s don. IMHO of course.

  57. @Yeshaswini YP: Pls read my review– Arjun Rampal is an identified disaster including his characterization. And duh plot lines have occured repetedly when FA does homage scenes — Kareena, Khaike Paan Banaraswala and had I forgotten– Arjun doing a Pran. Which you’ve identified. Bad, bad, bad, fully agreed. But where does FA score? With a non-boilerplate characterization of Don as a Jason Bourne type. I think that’s a first and slickly done to boot. Hence I vote for Don because FA’s smart and it shows.

  58. Pingback: Don - The Chase Begins « Chutney Soul

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