Tuesday 4 September 2007

Don (2006)

One day, in a fit of madness, Shah Rukh Khan decided to mimic Amitabh Bachchan. To an outsider, that might seem OK. The Prince of Bollywood wants to rightly prove his chops by imitating the King. The natural heir to Hindi cinema's throne can dance just as well, dammit, he can carry the charm, the suave, the good, the bad. But for those who are familiar with the arching eyebrows of Shah Rukh and the dull-eyed stare of Amitabh, they realize this is an impossible task. A suicide run. Because Shah Rukh is energy, where Amitabh is style. Shah Rukh is all quivering lips and vulnerable romance, where Amitabh is Angry Young Man with little time for Woman. Also, Amitabh is very tall. They are big shoes to fill.

I am Re-Don!

Well, we can't say that Shah Rukh quite fills them, but he does infuse the 2006 remake of Don with a certain likability. Or at least interestingability. Crucial to the 2006 Don's (or, as we like to call it, Re-Don) success are its departures from the original. And we don't mean adding a techno beat to Khaike Paan Banaras Wala, but rather turning much of the original's core on its head and presenting us with a more cynical, post-2000, post-9/11 world of crime. Here, the criminal activities are loud and clear: "Do you have my COCAINE?" Re-Don asks with subtlety in the very first scene. And whereas the old Don showed us that all it takes is some long limbs and dancing moves to ensure that good triumphs over evil, Re-Don is a little more ambiguous: there's something sinister in all that spunk.

Lovin' the beige-ish, green-ish stylin'. And that insidie tie? Whoo.

If you're unfamiliar with the storyline, read our review of the original for the low-down. In the superficial sense, nothing has changed. Cheap tech has been replaced by snazzier special effects, luxurious Malaysia and the towers of Kuala Lumpur have replaced Bombay, and boring old John Abraham with his boringly plastic model looks has replaced the totally awesome PRAN! Also Munni is inexplicably missing.

Someone in another blog wrote that when you stop comparing Re-Don to the original Don, it starts improving. Taken on its own, it's sleek and sharp and cool. It relishes in style. Just look at the way Don likes to wear matching ties inside his collar! Madness, or perhaps... genius. The composer resisted re-making all the songs, and so we're presented with a number of (generally enjoyable) originals. Om Puri (yes, you read correctly, OM PURI) appears every so often as the Interpol officer.

The hyped-up Khaike..., wherein the bhang was apparently laced with speed. Look at that sweat!

A lot of people apparently enjoy an evil Shah Rukh. We at the PPCC are not fans. While his handsomeness remains undimmed, that whole jaw-clenched, English-interjecting style he gets going during his evil scenes always rings hokey for us. Kareena Kapoor, unfortunately but characteristically, improves once she leaves the scene. John Abraham is a turn-off with his non-Pran-ness, but he becomes acceptable thanks to his convincing fatherly love. Om Puri is a joy to watch, as usual, though he seems just as surprised as us that he's in this film.


Beth Loves Bollywood said...

As much as they are largely interchangeable in their pretty-boy woodenness, John Abraham and and Arjun Rampal are in fact different people. But neither of them is Pran, and that's the point here.

I love re-Don (great term, by the way). I love menacing Shahrukh. I love the slickness. I do not love Priyanka, but that's not really her fault, because her character was so utterly lame-o.

Indy said...

Watch Don with Amitabh and with SRK. No comparison Big B is and always will be the King of Bollywood!


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ajnabi said...

I'm with Beth (which would make a great name for a blog, btw). I like re-Don a lot. I think SRK as baddie rocks my world. And is hawt.

F Craye said...

I thought re-Don was blegh. Totally meh. The only good song was Aaj Ki Raat, and the remakes of the original songs were just boring. Plus, I thought the heroine in this film had nothing to do: much less empowered than Roma in the original film. What happened to revenge-taking, head-shorn ass-kicking Roma? Plus, the change of the ending... now he's actually bad!?! Riiight.

The point is that it is a remake, so you can't divorce it from the original and view it on its own terms.

Count me among the Pran lovers, too. We all need more PRAN in our lives! and this film certainly needed him.

JD said...

I agree with your review's outline of the differences between SRK and Amitabh in this role. I prefer SRK's Don to Amitabh's. It is likely influenced by my view of 70's "dudes", of any culture, as ridiculously fluffy, unsubstantive, "stylish" (yech) posers who can't act their way out of a polyester bag. Where Amitabh's good guy posing as bad felt fake, SRK's felt like things might let loose at any moment, as if he might touch that 3rd rail of evil and flatten everyone in sight. You point this out - SRK is coiled energy vs. Amitabh as shrug of the shoulder cool. I like the evil potential and more jaded, hard ass Don of the modern era. Then again, I lived through the 70s and may just be suffering PTSD.