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.