Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Don: The Chase Begins Again, or, Wait--This Is a Remake?

Oh, did I say Monday? I meant Tuesday! Hello, Tuesday!

Sometimes my own Bolly-ignorance makes me roll my eyes, then laugh at myself. (Side note: is there any noun to which attaching "Bolly" as a hyphenated prefix doesn't work? I mean, I know I overuse it since a lot of Hindi film actors, and their fans, detest the term "Bollywood," but it's totally Bolly-licious. Okay, enough). Suffice it to say, I had no clue that Don, the 2006 version starring Shah Rukh Khan, was a remake of Don, the 1978 film starring the Big B, Amitabh Bachchan. At least, not when I watched it the first time. The 2006 version also stars Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, Boman Irani (yay!), and Ishaa Koppikar, with Kareena Kapoor in a guest appearance (double yay!--or at least that's what I thought when I read the synopsis on Netflix).

SRK as Don: Is hot when sitting with woman.

By the way, I also had no clue that Ishaa Koppikar was the same chick who played half of the hapless newlywed couple in Salaam-e-Ishq until this very moment, when I kinda thought her name looked familiar. Am lame excuse for Bollywood blogger.

Here's the set-up, if you're one of the two other Bollywood fans who haven't heard of this film: Don (SRK) is, well, almost a don. He's an organized crime lieutenant for a don named Singhania who specializes in the drug trade, especially in Malaysia. The Malaysian authorities appeal for help from their Indian counterparts, and a team headed by Inspector DeSilva (Boman-ji) arrives just in time to have a nice police chase with their target. Don is severely injured during the chase.

Is hot when sitting alone.

Inspector DeSilva (why does he have a Spanish surname? can one of the desi readers, or better-informed gora, please explain?) has an ace up his sleeve named Vijay (also SRK). Vijay is Don's goofy double, a singer caring for an abandoned boy he found on the street. DeSilva pressures Vijay into agreeing to pose as Don and infiltrate his gang by promising a decent education for the boy, whose name is Deepu. DeSilva tells no one but Don's doctor and nurse about the ruse. He impresses on Vijay the necessity of getting hold of a disc that contains all the information about Don's contacts for his drug trafficking, so he can pass along the info to DeSilva.

Is hot when fighting with woman.

Just before Vijay begins his charade as Don, a woman named Roma (Priyanka) maneuvers her way into his gang, much to the disgust of Don's girlfriend Anita (Ishaa--and why does she have a name like Anita? I don't get it). Roma's brother was killed by Don and she's posing as a thugette in order to get a chance to kill Don in return. DeSilva has his own problems, meanwhile--a guy named Jasjit (Arjun) is after him, because DeSilva may know how to recover Jasjit's lost son.

The cinematography in Don is pretty cool. The movie opens with a sequence shot in Paris with the requisite bad gora acting, all in shades of gray, with SRK wearing some shades that make him look HAWT. Don kicks some serious ass and then delivers a cheesy line that I think could've been better rendered in English than the subtitles did. By the end of the scene I was like, dude, you make murder look hot. My opinion on that crucial matter stayed firm for the duration of the film.

Is hot when getting pissed at woman for being a Don tease.

The rest of the movie happens in shades of green. It's visually appealing with all that black leather they've got going on. The action is decent, sometimes better than decent, which after a few Bollywood movies I've come to appreciate instead of expecting as my due, the way I did back when all I watched were American mainstream movies. There's a fight between Boman and SRK that I really liked watching, which I guess tells you the truth, which is that I am totally unqualified to judge action sequences. I just know what I like. Plus, it was great seeing a movie that happened outside India but not in London, New York, or Sidney (for the record, it's mostly in Malaysia).

I totally fell for Arjun, Mr. Intense-Felon-Limping-Devoted-Dad. This was the first movie with him I've seen, since (ducking to avoid rotten produce missiles while blurting quickly) I don't want to see Om Shanti Om at all, ever. (BecauseitlooksdumbandoverblownsorryFarah-ji!) He was awesome and a little (what up, P-PCC?) Byronic. Priyanka just has to exude sexiness and kick a little ass now and then, which she does ably. Ishaa has even less to do, and what screentime she has isn't memorable. Boman is, you know, Boman, which means he's great. Definitely one of my favorite Hindi cinema actors. Om Puri plays another police officer or something along those lines.

The soundtrack is largely forgettable as far as I'm concerned, and the only parts I remember I remember for the wrong reasons. And that brings us to "Yeh Mera Dil," which is Kareena's sort-of item number.

Is hot when watching woman climb all over him and bite earlobe.

Oh, man, it's painful to watch. I kept on wanting to cover my eyes out of sympathy for Bebo. Who choreographed this travesty? Did it have some of the original moves from the first Don? (Also, I thought Kamini is an insult in Hindi. Why do characters keep on being named Kamini then?) What's weird is that she looks way more sexy in the ten-second-sequence in the club where he picks her up than in the entire four minutes of the song. It was nice to see a club that didn't strongly resemble one of John Travolta's old hangouts in a Hindi movie.

Back to the songs: "Maurya Re" is a very colorful Big-Bollywood number, but the truth is it could have totally been done away with, without hurting the story at all. "Khaike Paan Banaraswala" was fun, although Shweta has some interesting points to make about its feasibility.

Ah well, it's definitely an alternate universe so I'll just go with it. In fact, that's my philosophy for this entire film. It's not nearly as slick as it tries to be, but it's enjoyable, and I had a good time watching it, even with the lacking subtitles and the constantly whispered "Don" vocals overlaying every evil thing he did. It's worth the price of rental, and actually I'll end up buying it someday.


  1. It's been a while since I've seen Don but I loooove Arjun in this movie. I can't believe you haven't seen him before! I should review one of my fave underrated films of his.

    Oh gosh, I hated Bebo's "dance" number. I wanted to kick her, hahaha.

    I actually like Isha Koppikar a lot! She's quite underrated in Bollywood and I've seen a few of her Tamil films.

    No Om Shanti Om? I should review it (later), hahaha

    Gosh, I talked too much.

  2. Ahh, just like Filmi Girl sighs in satisfaction when Tun Tun appears on the witness stand, I sigh in satisfaction when I see my characters wallow in their Byronic misery. Wallow! WALLOW!

    That said - and even though Arjun was awfully cute in this - he's got nothin' - ABSOLUTELY NOTHIN' - on the sublime magnificence that is PRAN (!!!). Just consider that the first time I saw PRAN (!!!) was in the original Don, and since then I've been incapable of writing his name without all caps and three exclamation points.

    Re: DeSilva: sounds Goan to me. Goan surnames are often Portuguese-sounding (D'Souza, Gonsalves, D'Sa). Goan Christianity is one of those Hindi film stereotypes - it pops up quite often and has the usual recognizable stereotype things attached to it. See Amar Akbar Anthony for a primer on religion in Hindi films.

    Another interesting film - interesting because it takes place in Goa and the characters aren't stereotypes - is SRK's early one Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. One of my fave SRK films! He's a big ball of sweetness in it.

  3. Nicki--yes, please review your fave Arjun movies! I would love to know what he's got that's worth watching. I really liked Ishaa in S-e-I but here she didn't get much opportunity to shine. And of course you didn't talk too much! I don't believe in talking too much in comments sections, can't you tell? ;-)

    PPCC--Thank you so much for clearing up the whole surname thing. It was making my brain hurt, but not enough to actually research the question. LOL I know PRAN (!!!) is awesome--I have actually seen the original Don now! Am no longer Bollywood poseur, I think! But I'm still busily making my way through the worthiness of the past two decades so I need to get my butt to the 70s soon. Before I do that, I'll look up KHKN, although I've heard there's not a happy ending... I hate those. Well, I'll just keep KKHH on standby in case of melancholic emergency. :-)

  4. Hey girl! I'm glad I didn't talk too much, hehehe.

    Yes, definitely. I will review one Arjun's earlier films that I love. Maybe by this weekend. I want to review a Telugu film that made me started watching Tollywood films.

    Isha Koppikar - I looooved her in Koi Kool Hai Hum. Her role is similiar to Sandra Bullock's in Miss Congeniality. Maybe I should review it too? Hehehehe. Oh gosh, I'm addicted to reviewing Bollywood!!!

  5. PPCC is absolutely right about DeSilva being Goan, which makes sense since Goa was a Portuguese colony till post-independence in India.

    Kameenee= rude word in Hindi
    Kamini= "sexy female" in himdi/sanskrit :D

    [groan; im sounding like such a nerd here]

  6. Nicki, that would be awesome. And yes to reviewing Koi Kool Hai Hum, I'd love to hear more about it!

    Shweta, you don't sound like a nerd, just a person kind enough to educate an ignoramus like myself. :-) Thank you very much for explaining; apparently I have a tin ear for differentiating these things. LOL

  7. Btw, you have seen Arjun - he was Priety's boss in KANK. But then, that was KANK. :p

    But yeah, he steals this movie. As for Shahrukh, to me he's unintentionally hilarious in this. But PPC is right, the original has Pran. And Pran owns.

  8. O God, I blocked it out. I didn't want to associate him (or anybody else, for that matter) with that travesty. LOL PRAN (!!!) was good, but I prefer Arjun--don't hate me for my lack of critical faculty please. ;-)

  9. This one was way slicker than the older Don but I had this terrible feeling of deja vu all the time I was watching. It didnt help that whole chunks of dialogues were copied from the older movie. This remake practically begged for odious comparisons with the original. I am no fan of Big B but I have to admit that in his heydey he was a way better actor than SRK. Agree re the Kareena dance number - it was the worst thing about this movie! A good dancer she may be, but Helen she is NOT. Why. O Why couldnt they use a new song?

    I think for most of us who've seen the older Don first, most of the interesting aspects of this movie are lost in the comparison with the original. It would be interesting to know your perspective on the older one since you watched this first.

  10. Helen she is definitely not! And that's why I think it was totally unfair to have her use the same song. I'll definitely get around to a review of the older Don in a short while... Actually, not that short, since I'll be traveling soon!

  11. Just stumbled upon your blog from Beth's and just wanted to say hi :) As a 2nd generation Indian person I always am touched/fascinated when non-Indians fall in love with Bollywood. I love the whole scene because it's part of my culture and who I am - but seeing it from a different point of view than mine is quite refreshing indeed.

    'Don' is not a bad movie - it's just for us old-school folks it will always be compared to the original 70's one. Having grown up on a steady diet of Amitabh masala movies (including several viewings of 'Don') I just could not watch this one without comparing it to the original.

    Indian movies from the 70's are what me & my friends refer to as 'Bollyweed' movies - meaning that either the people who made them were smoking something when they did or that you should be when watching to really GET it. They are just so colorful, over-the-top with insane plotlines that they just don't make much sense to me but are great fun nonetheless.

    But the main reason we love them is because of the tunes - those amazing songs that can lift even the most mediocre of films into classics (see 'Hum Kisise Kum Nahin' for proof). In fact my blog is a tribute to those songs that I cherish from my childhood as well as the movies that they sprung from. I will be linking your blog to mine - stop by for a visit and do the same if you are so inclined.


    p.s. Here is my write-up to the orginal 'Don' if you would like to read about my very special viewing at a moviehouse in Austin, TX.

  12. Ajnabi,

    LOL...well, as you know, I didn't like this film at all AND I wasn't partial to it as Sanket was because I didn't grow up on the original. But I think I may have to revisit this one, because I think I may have rented a bad pirate(as I said in response to your comment on my blog).

    I'm also going to make a point to see the original... should be interesting to compare our opinions on that one!;)

  13. Oh, and by the way, I agree Arjun is totally hot! I have yet to really connect with him onscreen, though...

  14. Sanket, thank you so much for dropping in and commenting. I was raised on a "steady diet," as you put it, of American classic musicals, so I can (a little) understand where you're coming from. If someone re-made Mary Poppins, even though nowadays it'd all be CGI and fantastic special effects with not-as-precious child actors, I'd still not like it nearly as much because of the emotions I have associated with the original movie. I know that analogy is somewhat lacking but it's the best I can come up with at the moment so I'm stuck with it. :-) I can't wait to visit your blog--yay for more Bollywood fandom!

    Nida--a bad pirate can make all the difference in my experience of a movie, that's for sure. I think most of your original objections will hold fast regardless of the subtitling, though... If you revisit it I hope you post about it. And yeah, hooray for hottie-McHot-hot Arjun! I need Nicki to hurry up and tell me what movies of his to watch! :-D

  15. << What's weird is that she looks way more sexy in the ten-second-sequence in the club >>

    Couldn't agree more; here is my review. Maybe it was that the sequence in the club had music from Dil Chahta Hai playing that made it better?! ;)

    I haven't seen the old Don, but I am with bollyviewer about Amitabh in his prime being a better actor than SRK. Nevertheless, Don is one of SRK's few films that I liked!

    Most songs can be done away with, but they don't hurt the film too much either, I think. Besides, this is one of the very few albums that repeatedly sounds fantastic at the gym, so I haven't stopped listening to it since 2006 =)

    If you liked Arjun Rampal in this, you might want to check out Yakeen (2005) with him and Priyanka Chopra. And if you do, do try to shift focus from its plot being 'borrowed' from Hollywood! It's still a pretty decent movie. :)

  16. Adaab, Bollywood Fan! I'm going to check out your review in a second. Yes, Amitabh beats SRK on the acting front, though I confess I prefer SRK anyway for reasons that defy rational analysis. As far as the songs go, hmmm. Well, I guess the best I can say for them from my POV is that they're inoffensive. But then, I'm not joining a gym till next month so I'll have to see how that affects my appreciation. ;-)

    Thanks for the rec on Yakeen! I don't mind borrowed plots at all; Hollywood steals from itself all the time so why shouldn't Bollywood do the same?

  17. Give me only 1 example where re-make beat the original one.What ever the situation is original always remains original.Amitabh was looking real DON in the movie DON but I saw a buffoon in DON 2.LOL.....

  18. Hi Saheli! I know there are lots of people who agree with you; I think the comments make that pretty clear. Still, I liked the movie and I liked SRK in it. :-)

  19. Your 'Mary Poppins' observations is spot on! Despite my love of Bollywood my affection for Hollywood musicals is limited to 'Mary Poppins', 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' & 'The Sound of Music' - the fact that Dick Van Dyke & Julie Andrews are overlapping stars of all 3 are not lost on me ;)

    And like any good classic they still hold up well today. I saw 'Chitty' with my nieces (age 3 & 6) over Christmas and they fell in love with it! To the point where they saw the movie about 20 more times during the visit and much to the chagrin of their parents I sent them home with their own copy...

  20. Oh my gosh, Sanket, you're *that* uncle? The one who tortures the parents of your nieces and nephews? LOL I have to confess that I'm that aunt, too--always buy the loudest and most repetitive toys I can find for the family.

    Anyway, I couldn't agree more about Chitty Chitty and the Sound of Music. I remember my mom telling me that when she was younger families would go see the Sound of Music every Saturday for weeks! Today my kids love it. Total classic.

  21. hey, great review....but what's wrong with the name anita?

  22. Hi anonymous! There's absolutely nothing wrong with the name Anita (I actually have a friend named Anita!). I wrote this a while back, before I understood that it's not uncommon for Christian Indians to have names of Western origin. I was just confused as to why Ishaa's character was named that. :-)

  23. haha, ok- actually, it's a common name amongst indians in general- i have indian friends with tht name too, hence, the question


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