Friday, December 23, 2011

REVIEW 103: DON2

Release date:
December 23, 2011
Director:
Farhan Akhtar
Cast:
SRK, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani, Kunal Kapoor, Aly Khan, Lara Dutta, Om Puri, Nawwab Shah

Helloooo Mr Shah Rukh Khan! And you too, Ms Priyanka Chopra!

But most of all, may I shake your hand, Mr Farhan Akhtar?!

Take a bow Team Don 2 for giving us an entertaining end to 2011.
The allure of the 1978 Don starring Amitabh Bachchan came from its memorable dialogues, stylish action, clever script, iconic casting and fabulous music score. Farhan’s Don in 2006 was not just a remake, it was an interesting re-interpretation. It retained the original’s sleekness, borrowed just the right amount from its forebear to captivate fans from back then, but turned the tall, strapping, grave Don played by Bachchansaab into the humorous and impertinent, self-deprecating yet arrogant, physically less imposing Don of Shah Rukh Khan. There was no space for comparisons between the two because they were so completely different.
In Don 2, SRK takes the self-effacing tone forward, and the sparks between his Don and Priyanka Chopra’s Roma turn to a raging blaze. Farhan steers his stars with a firm hand and uses Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s haunting music minimally but to excellent effect to give us a thumpingly enjoyable film that looks as technically polished as any high-budget international product.
Let’s take that step by step. For at least a year now, it has seemed as though Shah Rukh (like a couple of his fellow Bollywood heroes in their 40s) was struggling to come to terms with his age. The hero’s wannabe-boyish styling in that embarrassingly bad film Ra.One, simply reinforced the feeling. In Don2, however, he plays a part suited to his age, seems not to camouflage the years and comes off looking better for it. Seriously, Shah Rukh, please keep that beard!
It helps that SRK’s heroine in Don 2 is Priyanka Chopra. PC is 17 years younger than her man, but she does not come across looking like an adoring younger sister to Shah Rukh’s indulgent big brother figure, unlike Deepika Padukone in Om Shanti Om and Anushka Sharma in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (both girls over 20 years his junior). Sure, Priyanka and Shah Rukh look like a much younger woman and an older man in love/lust, but the point is you can feel the magnetic pull between them, you can imagine Roma and Don barely able to keep out of each other’s beds!
There’s also the matter of Shah Rukh’s acting. In film after film he’s played to the gallery, emphasising the histrionic eccentricities and exaggerated mannerisms that his fans seem to love. But Chak De, Swades and My Name Is Khan showed us that the star is also an actor. Don and Don 2 are interesting because he’s taken those very quirks his fans enjoy and – under Farhan’s able guidance – turned them into qualities intrinsic to the character of Don.
And able guidance it is! No actor is better than his director, and Farhan is among Bollywood’s best right now. He knows how to put together a great team too, among whom Don 2’s cinematographer Jason West, choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant and production designer T.P. Abid all need a special mention. I particularly loved the shadow play on that gorgeous stage in the film’s title track and the very sexual interplay between the lead pair in the final song.
Thankfully, though the film is primarily a platform for Shah Rukh, Farhan treats his female star with respect. Through the first half, I was worried that Priyanka’s Roma would end up being little more than a glamorous showpiece like heroines often are in today’s Bollywood. But post-interval, Roma’s significance shoots up … and though I don’t want to expand on that, may I just say that Ms Chopra – one of the best that we have in commercial Hindi cinema right now – is probably one of the fittest women in India, her Roma is a far cry from those helpless “mujhe bachao”-type bechaaris of an earlier Bollywood, and she looks torrid beating up bad men!
Truth be told, Don 1 had a more fleshy story. But well, films in this genre are not so much about story as about adrenaline. All you need to know about this one is that Don tries to rob a bank in Europe with his bĂȘte noir from the earlier film, Vardhaan (Boman Irani), and a young computer genius Sameer (Kunal Kapoor), while cops Malik (Om Puri) and Roma get unwittingly drawn in.
The film does have some major flaws, but I found myself in a forgiving mood by the time the climax came around. First, although the action in the first half is thrilling, Don 2 dips considerably in the early part of the post-interval portion before picking up again and racing to an unexpected ending. There’s a particularly boring step-by-step explanation of Don’s bank robbery plan. Some of Don’s ruses seem too simplistic, especially for those fed a diet of MIs, Die Hards and Bonds! Likewise, Sameer’s ability to hack into the bank’s security system is too convenient and unconvincing. At the start of the heist, the bank’s security staff seem surprisingly lax! There are portions in the film that are confusing even in retrospect. And the interesting guest appearance by a major star is marred by one problem: if I wear a mask that makes me look like you, does that mean I’ll get your voice too? I can’t explain further without spoiling your fun! And in the overall analysis, that’s what Don 2 is – it’s wicked, unapologetic fun!
Rating (out of five): ***1/2  
Footnote: I saw the film’s 2D version at a press preview. Will report back if I watch it in 3D.


17 comments:

  1. No wonder Anna doesnt write reviews as blog post instead of a well known paper or portal.
    As a critic one needs to critique the film on its own. Basing your comments on SRK's past looks/successes/failures CAN NOT be brought into a movie made by different set of a team.

    Review is not about story telling. Spoilers are not just revealing the whole act it could even be mentioning about it.
    I dont mean to be offensive at all. But if this is what being taught to students aspiring to be entertainment journalists, I do feel bad.

    Would love to read a review which is just about the movie and nothing else. There is always a WIKIpedia and biographies to read history of an actor/director

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  2. Excellent keepp it

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  3. Saw it in 3D and thats the only glitch!Agree totally with your review, but really surprised that the critic in you liked it as it is!Guess sometimes u guys can review movies without pondering too much!

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  4. It will be exciting to watch DON 2 in 3D. Dear Anna M.M.Vetticad plz post your review on DON2's 3D version.

    I will watch this movie after your review.Please tell us which one is best between DON2 & MI-4,and i m dying to watch it.

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  5. Nice to get your review so early, well I am a hardcore SRK fan and was in a fix after reading few early review today morning.One said Don 2 needs a Bodyguard like Ra-One had to. Well why everyone talking about the chasing scene and almost on all the reviews , it has been mentioned as Great. I think I must go tomorrow for this movie if I am lucky enough to get a ticket.

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  6. Srk looks haggard and has a haunted,gaunt look on his face. For God's sake it is not lean, mean and sexy as he makes it out to be. Shahrukh grow up to know you've grown up now. Be your age

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  7. excellent review mam.. except that ending of Hritik's cameo.. everything was great.. 4/5

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  8. Dear Arun,
    Your concern for aspiring entertainment journalists is touching. So here’s a lesson that I teach all my students that might serve you well too – never make a comment or ask a question without doing your research. Now if you had done some research, you would have known my bio-data better than to make that rather ignorant observation in your first sentence that you say you have made with no intention of being “offensive at all”. :) I’m also flummoxed by what you expect in a review. No story and no perspective? Since I’ve given just a bare outline of the story (in one sentence), I don’t know what spoilers you are talking about. I’m curious!

    Dear Life (?),
    I found the car chase particularly interesting because Priyanka Chopra was in it. How often do we get to see a Hindi film heroine involved in a high-speed car chase? Hope you like it too.

    Dear Adeeb,
    Aapka hukum sar aankhon par. Will do.

    Dear Prashant,
    I don’t remember mentioning Hrithik in my review at all. Was he in the film? ;)

    Regards, Anna

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    1. Wow...Anna I like the way you give it back!!

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  9. Hi Anna,
    Thanks for posting my comments. Admire your willingness to listen. Now coming to the points
    Please tell me what is the purpose of bring in the history of actors/directors while the undertaking is to review this MOVIE? How is it going to help/hurt this movie especially when you review a movie for its technicalities?
    Coming to confinedness of review, please read yoru last paragraph. In an effort to becoming a logical detective you give the entire plot away. Remember most of your readers are the ones who hasn't seen the movie yet and are here to make an inferred choice. I am unclear about you becoming 'flummoxed' on to take it as your sarcastic hit back or you really dont understand the point i was trying to make.

    I still enjoy reading your blogs. If my constructive feedback helps, its great else no big issues you are an accomplished writer.

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  10. Madam you the absolute idiot! With deep disrespect and dislike from Russia!

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  11. Hi Anna,

    saw the 3D version of Don2 and I must say there are few sequences where 3D effects been effective. Film being made in hollywood style was fast paced and as you said full credit goes to the technical crew. SRK's charismatic screen presence saved the film from being a regular action flick. Priyanka was top class as Roma.I have never seen an indian actress wearing such elegant outfits and she looked like a perfect hollywood herion. Don's escape from the prsion, Vardhaan's transormation as Interpol officer...were all hard to believe. In the climax, Don presses the button on his watch and blast happens...OK but Mr. Vardhaan & crew...where have the guns gone???? Rest of the film as per me was beautifully shot.
    5 cinema halls including 2 multiplexes...total 24 shows per day in Kochi city only; all shows been housefull till date shows the impact of SRK in the metro city.

    Regards

    Dyne

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  12. Dear Anna,
    I love your candor and sincerity while reviewing a film and of course i wish you would more interviews i used to like watching on HT.
    Unfortunately,i thought Don2 was appallingly corny(just in content;quite well shot actually with a atmosphere befitting the genre) with gaping loop-holes.All would have been forgiven and forgotten if i would have found it interesting.And trust me,i was almost rooting for the film to work for me.Unfortunately, i found it a big bore of a movie, shoddily scripted if i may add.It was convoluted, yet o'er simplistic,convenient in fact for a heist/con film which it veered off to.I would have rather watched The Sting or the Ocean's 11 at home.However,I did enjoy SRK.:)And i agree with the beard part, ever since ChakDe i have thought this is the man he is...
    Like in The Dirty Picture and The Devil's Double this year, i thought the this film too failed to do justice to the almost 'Caine'esque performance by Srk.
    PS:i hope when i make a movie,i ll get a favorable review from you.:)tc and Merry Christmas and happy holiday.:)

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  13. Dear Arun,

    I’m not sure how you consider it “constructive feedback” when your earlier comment was prefaced with a remark that you clearly intended to be personal and hurtful. Be assured though that I’m not hurt by remarks by strangers. In fact, I’m amused at strangers who quickly switch to a conciliatory tone when meanness is met with a measured response.

    What you object to is what most people call “perspective”. And if you read the reviews that have been filed by critics across the country you will find that I’ve not revealed even a quarter of what the best of them have revealed. So if you object to a critic giving perspective and you think a review that contained a one-sentence summary of the story gave “the entire plot away”, I would suggest that you ask yourself what exactly you are looking for when you set out to read reviews.

    Thanks for taking the trouble to write to me.

    Warm regards,

    Anna

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  14. Totally agree with your 3.5..the movie was just short of hollywood class..:)But the songs & the climax weren't upto the mark when compared to the earlier version..still,overall,its a newyear treat..:)

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  15. My review of Don 2.. http://franklyaman.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/movie-review-don-2/

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  16. Hi Anna,

    I liked and totally concur with your following quote above: "Farhan steers his stars with a firm hand and uses Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s haunting music minimally but to excellent effect to give us a thumpingly enjoyable film that looks as technically polished as any high-budget international product."
    Wonder who was the playback singer for the end credit song? It sounded so much like Amit Kumar and I hope it was.

    Noor Vasaya

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