Don – the Chase Begins Again

Well, who knew?

My only motivation for going to  theater tonight were (1) the excitement of  seeing a Diwali hit on Thursday night at 8pm (EST) while India is  still  waking up and the cinemas there have yet to open, and (2) the  picturization of the Ganapati Morya Re  song.  

I mean, come on, how do you re-do an Amitabh Bachchan film, especially one as cool and campy as the original 1978 Don, and that, while the Master himself is still alive and romancing 18-year-old heroines?   Then, pile on that the extreme disappointment of SRK in Kabhi Alvida, and one  doesn’t have very high expectations as one climbs up to the  stadium seats in the AMC theater in the heart of Times Square.

But wait,  only minutes into the movie I realized I had underestimated  how much I would enjoy Don – the Chase Begins Again.    It’s not a Deep and Meaningful Film, but nor do we expect it to be.    It’s one fun ride.   And as one friend commented as we left the cinema “You forget you’re watching a Hindi movie.”

From the opening scene in Paris,  a doublecross drug deal with Chunky Pandey (looking very trippy), Shahrukh Khan is clearly not the nice boy we’ve seen in so many earlier movies.   Two negative roles in two of the biggest releases in  one year.    On the brink of 41,  perhaps he’s seeking to do  new things, or rather, go back to his roots, given that some of his earlier roles were negative (Baazigar and Darr).   The interesting thing is, whereas in Kabhi Alvida he was a loose, uncontrolled mess, in Don, SRK  reins himself in and behaves like someone driving a Maserati around the hilly twists of Monte Carlo.

(Interesting to note, when SRK  is first seen  on the screen, we behold  only his lips, poised over a cup at a Paris cafe, and just that sight provoked whistles in the theater tonight.)

The opening credits are no match for acid-toned, thwacka-wacka, fabulous ’70s original titles, but these ones, all techno  green and black, zoom and loop with the names of the ensemble, in an architecture that foreshadows the highways and on- and off-ramps that encircle modern day Kuala Lumpur, where  80% of the film takes place.

We hear in a briefing made to Malaysian cops by Indian Chief Inspector Desilva (Boman Irani), some tale about a guy named Boris who emerged after the break-up of the Soviet Union and who formed a major drug ring, whose 2 top bhais are based in KL.   Hamara Don, it turns out, is the  man who manages business for one,  Singhania.  

Shortly after, Kareena Kapoor makes her brief appearance, as  the fiancée of one of Don’s thugs, who’s quitting the business to run away with her.   Oh, too late,  Don finds out and kills him, thereby setting Kareena on the path of revenge, as she attempts to step into the biggest strappy dance sandals in Bollywood, namely those of our  beloved Helen.

It’s an impossibly tall order.   There’s just no match for Helen in that white outfit and blue contact lenses slinking along the shag carpet toward the sullen and unresponsive Amitabh, but for what it’s worth, Bebo gives the number a lot of oomph.   The choreography itself is softer and rounder than in the original, and the emphasis  seems to be more on posing the former Poo in that  shiny gold halter dress for maximum exposure, allowing the camera to linger on her perfectly made up, heavily kohl-lined eyes and  high gloss lips, and let me tell you, this girl has some solid calves.

One annoying sartorial trend started in the “Yeh Mera Dil” scene is SRK in these print shirts with a little necktie of the same fabric wrapped directly around his neck, inside the collar, inside the shirt.   Ick.   This just looks like  a leftover from the days when women new to  the workforce wore floppy bow ties to try to ape the men already in the ratrace.   Let’s just hope no abundantly confident Bombay dandies (Gaurav, Manish, Chandrahas, soniye, please) out there see this film and think “Hey, I can pull that off!”   (Thank Heavens the Wardrobe Gods smiled on Arjun Rampal.   More on him later.)  

Somewhere around here Priyanka Chopra, as Roma, makes her presence known.   Turns out, she’s the sister of Kareena’s dead boyfriend and she wants vengence too.   She infiltrates SRK’s gang and waits for her chance to bring him down.

We see Don in his high tech lair, where  the best part is his walk-in closet/safe, with floor-to-ceiling shelves laden with packs of dollars, drugs and complemented by the recently recovered Edward Munch painting The Scream (that was one cute little in-joke).   For some reason, the criminal mastermind backs up all his tippest, toppest secret data on a tiny disc, which he allows to slip through his fingers and become the Maltese Falcon in this film.

While called on business to India, Don gets injured and caught, and the storyline follows that of the original, namely that the cops replace him with Vijay, a well-meaning  guy struggling to feed and educate a young runaway boy, Deepu, who he’s taken under his wing.  

And cue the song I’ve had in my head for the past week at least – Morya Re – which replaces the Bombay Nagariya number that Amitabh did 28 years ago.   It’s set  during the Ganesh Utsav festival in Bombay and it’s got all the rhythm and exuberance that you expect from a Bollywood movie.   Shahrukh in simple jeans,  white shirt, Teva-like sandals and a saffron bandana leads the band as he sashays down the road with a float bearing a very large pastel-toned Ganapati toward the sea.   Funny enough, if you listen to the opening bars of this song, before the bells and cymbals kick in, you’d think you were listening to Bahia’s native sons, Olodum.

While Vijay learns how to be Don, we meet Jasjit, the handsome and  handicapped Mr. Rampal, sweating in a cut banyan as he does push-ups on some parallel bars, looking very determined indeed.   We see his mental movie and learn that he was once a mild-mannered  IT whiz (how would someone who is so devastatingly beautiful ever be mild-mannered??) coerced into a crime because his wife has been kidnapped.   It’s during that melée that he sustains the leg injury and loses his son (can you guess where the son ends up?).

Cut to interval and all the double crosses keep rolling on.   None of the main characters in this film plays just one role, everyone’s got something else going on.   For all the twists and switchbacks, and false starts and false endings, Farhan Akhtar is able to keep all the storylines from getting tangled and sustain our interest to see how it all turns out.   He has also clearly taken the long view in calling  his version of Don – the Chase Begins Again, for he must  have sequel(s) on his mind.

Never mind plot twists and acting, what about the clothes and the makeup and the sets, you say.   Well darling, the clothes were quite nice, but ugh, how does anyone wear so much leather in steamy Malaysia?   Vijay appears in a  screaming Bruce Lee long-sleeved t-shirt that was quite a howler, and Don himself wears a variety of pairs of sunglasses, most quite cool, but please, there’s one pair that would look much more at home on Karl Lagerfeld’s countenance than that of an underworld kingpin.   The best items of the men’s wardrobe went to Arjun Rampal, especially a very delicious, form-fitting black t-shirt that stood him very well while his muscles flexed and rippled in a fight scene with SRK.   Arrey vah.  

Make-up on the ladies was dewy and smoky and fresh, which is a plus for Priyanka Chopra, who was so overspackled in Krrish she must have had breakouts for weeks after shooting wrapped.  

Set decor was lush and appropriately affluent, and looked solid, which is one detail that helps this movie in beliveability, as so many sets in past Hindi movies looked remarkably flimsy.   I had to laugh in one scene when I saw the King Khan reclining on the very same green striped Indian silk pillow covers that I have, and that you can have too, as they come from IKEA.

This has been an auspicious beginning to the holiday movie season.   Let’s see what the coming weeks bring us…

See it or skip it?    

See it!   Bilkul bindaas hai!

90 thoughts on “Don – the Chase Begins Again

  1. I soo love sharukh khan he is top at acting! TOP!! and i mean TOP! he rules!
    he was my favortie actor once i was small!!! i just love him i watched every movie of sharukh khan in the cinama & when it was OUT~! i just love him! 😀

  2. This isn’t one of my favorites either, but I do love some of the wardrobe SRK and Arjun Rampal wore. They are quite eye catching. And yes I do agree with you, I don’t like the way he wore his necktie either, that seems to be the only thing that was wrong with his wardrobe in this movie.

    Wonder who thought of that.

  3. i really enjoyed this movie. srk is my fave actor. its true he is the king of bollywood he looked hot in this movie with prianka and karena i think this is a really good remake of don Bye Bye Seema

  4. I love this movie…my sister and i can just not stop watching I love everything about, the suspencet the murder and the mystery. I especcially love Shau Ruk Khan in this he is looken pretty hot!!! Well i hope to see his next new movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love Sadia Shaike

  5. I LOVED this movie. One of my favourites. Although I don’t think SRK should have played a bad role. It just doesn’t suit his good nature. And the end was good, but I think he should have ened up with Prianka. I didn’t like that.~ but who did??? But the 1st Don will always be the best~ Amitabh is a living legend. But I adore SRK!! I think he should win a award for being soooooooooooo amazing~ 🙂 Overall I thought the songs were amazing and almost everyother thing about it! LOVED IT OVERALL!!! 😉

  6. Are you sure these are the black Gradient lense? They look like the Brown lense. But they could be the gradient because his skin colour is brown.It’s difficult to tell.
    Gotta get the lense colour right if you want the DON look.

    haris Says:
    April 12th, 2007 at 1:27 pm
    they are the oakley gascan polished black with black gradient lense!

    samwize Says:
    March 5th, 2007 at 8:41 pm
    PLZZZZ tell me where i can purchase the sunglasses srk wears in the movie DON and what oakley make are they?

  7. o.k can any one tell me where i can purchase the leather jacket sharukh wears in the opening scene and closing scene of the movie

  8. heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey i think that don was a heavy film i loved ittttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt kareena kapooooor is da beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeest

  9. diss movie iss bad becaus sharuk dont love in prinka chopra .
    i love prianka sooo i will evry one like her

  10. It was a Good Movie but could have been made much much better. SRK Performed the Role of DON wonderfully well but He didn’t portray the Role of Vijay perfectly. But All in all the Film was Good. The Best thing about the Movie was the GORGEOUS Kareena. She just Rocked and won Million Hearts around the World. Really has a Bright future.

  11. PLZZZZ tell me where i can purchase the sunglasses srk wears in the movie DON and what oakley make are they?

  12. I think that Jaan-e-Maan is a wicked film. Salman Khan is so fit so who ever is against it can kiss it because Jaan-e-Mann is wicked. it does have an interesting story to it. Salman Khan looked so fit. Akshay Kumar looked so cute and Prity Zinta looked so prity and there was the baby she was so cute so if you don’t like Jaan-e-Maan then you lot are sad/

  13. Sorry to be defending Akhtar’s take on Don but here goes: the Vijay bits are patchy and strange because there are a lot of clues that it ISN’T Vijay (character) but Don. For example he doesn’t recognise Deepu AT ALL in the school and waits until the child approaches. The Roma thing makes sense when you realise Don would wonder how things have changed in his absence and the new kid has been promoted to the inner circle. I like the fact that Shahrukh’s Don has the voracious sexual appetite unlike the rather puritanical AB version in the original – goes more with 2006 morality. Btw, it is just as clear that he sleeps with Kamini in this one as in the original – remember there were no explicit scenes. This one is just as clear – or more, given the way he checks out girls – as to what happens.
    Just saw it again (have seen the original at least a 100 times). And realised just HOW complex Akhtar’s screenplay is. In fact, its great fun figuring out the clues and hints. Not to mention Shahrukh’s little hints as to Don vs Vijay. Keep the original plot in mind and then see Akhtar subvert the expectations…brilliant!

  14. I agree-the movie was fantastic. What do you make of Roma and Don? Why does Don start hitting on Roma the moment he comes back? Is he just anticipating the trouble ahead? Is he just trying to be different- as the Don that lost his memory? Is he really attracted to her? And why does he follow JJ and Deepu? (out of curiosity- to see why a strange man is walking off with ‘his’ son?) I think there’s a scope for a sequel-as Roma’s charachter would want some serious revenge.

  15. Hello…I came across ur blog yesterday after reading ur article in Rediff…gr8 job…so many entries will have to read them one @ a time. Since u r a self-confessed hindi movie buff…like me…:) I invite u to watch videos n songs from old n classic Hindi movies…from the period that has been dubbed as the the golden-era of Hindi cinema…pls. visit my profile on YouTube at:

    http://www.youtube.com/bombaytalkies

    ThanX!

  16. OK, I finally went to see Don and whew, after reading some not-so-good reviews, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who really enjoyed it!
    I’ve also been addicted to Maurya Re ever since I first heard it and I loved the picturization, especially seeing it on the big screen … This is really a movie you have to see in the cinema and I had a great time watching it.
    I thought Shahrukh did a very good job, there were some awkward moments when he was playing Vijay, but the Don parts were good. And I’m so glad they didn’t include the “man with limp escapes on tightrope while carrying his children” bit in the remake …

    Also, high five for commenting on the hotness of Arjun, the weird ties and The Scream 😀

  17. Thanks TBS. Your review along with filmiholic’s was spot on. Seems like a mutual appreciation society here. 😉
    And yes thanks to the review above I kept a watch for Kareena’s calves. They are amazingly toned.
    Priyanka did work harder on her dangerous factor than the sexy one and she has come a long way. She is also a better actress than Zeenat ever was. But as an old ZA fan, the Zeenie-baby bikini act is unparallelled in Hindi cinema. Priyanka got close but not nearly.
    Filmiholic, bit of trivia: Arjun Rampal did a video long ago called “Don’t Marry” (circa 1995) – complete with long hair. See if you can find a copy. You’d enjoy it.

  18. Lisa, my filmi sister on the Left Coast, thank you! Arjun’s filled out nicely as he’s gotten older. I remember this stunning b & w poster of him in an AIDS awareness campaign a good few years back, when he was still known as primarily a model, and he looked positively skeletal.

    Buddha, indeed, nothing as appealing as the prospect of reinvention! 🙂

    Shashank, “chocolate boy kind of roles”… I haven’t heard that expression in a while! Thanks for the reminder.

  19. Hey all,

    Filmi -apologies for typing in “Happy Birthday” when I meant, “Happy Diwali”…though one could argue that the new year is an opportunity for all of us to reinvent ourselves, enter a new life, i.e. have a new birthday! 🙂

    CT – like the point about the Scarface influence. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that was slightly familiar, but you’ve hit the nail on the head. Totally get your point about the rolling gait, as well as that slight nose twitch, indicative of a cokehead, which makes Don that much more volatile.

  20. Another brilliant review, Maria-behn.
    This Don kicks ass and I will gladly go hand-to-hand with any of those film-snobs who bash it.
    I too was giggling at the leather jackets in Malaysia, though!
    And you are sooo right about Arjun Rampal. I couldn’t decide whether I loved him more IN those adorable clothes or OUT of them.

  21. The new version of DON rocks !!!. I am proud to say that it has the feel of a bollywood movie and I never felt that I watching a bollywood flick. Technically brilliant, great photography and aerial shots. Go out and watch it for sheer entertaintment (but dont try to compare with old DON). The old DON entertained moviegoers in its own way during the 70’s. Dont compare Shahruk to Amitabh – both have their own distinctive styles. The only person I missed in the new DON was ‘baldie’ baddie Shetty (no one can replace him). I totally agree with Filmiholic’s review. This guy is a good reviewer.

  22. Hi, had checked your and TBS reviews before going out to see Don. On the button completely. Brilliant remake even for an old AB fan like me. Loved the kahani mein twists. Lot darker than AB’s morally upstanding version – better fun too. Seems like SRK hasn’t had this much fun shooting a film in while…
    Also was I the only one who noticed the Al Pacino-in-Scarface touches SRK incorporated in his role – from the rolling walk to the very subtle cokehead sniff and discreet nose-swipe? Best SRK performance for a while. So glad he isn’t doing good guys anymore.

  23. I saw Jaan-e-Mann, I think Salman has done better than before, although I have ot agree with Filmiholic that he doesn’t look good when he cries. The movie on the whole disappointed me as I was expecting more, although it has some good moments. On the whole guys, both the movies this weekend disappointed me. Now i am looking forward to UJ and Dhoom 2. I am expecting more from them.

  24. Awwww, Sakhsi sweetie, it’s just that some people look good when they cry, and others (like me) look just awful….. and I will say that I thought your boy was very good in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, and even last week, they ran Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya on Star Plus, and he was good there too.

    I’m amazed when I hear him in TV interviews how American his accent is. Did he live her for a long time at some point?

    And I have to ask…. why ARE there dwarves in Jaan-e-Maan???? 🙂

  25. Filmiholic – Oh! come on…pls don’t be un-fair on Salman. Each and every review of the film has praised him…he indeed has given a neat good performance.

    Jana – I have no clue as to which part of the planet you are living but…from all that I have read….7 out of 10 reviews have found the new DON to be a complete waste. Maybe you need to look at http://www.naachgaana.com

    Oh! Happy Birthday Maria.

  26. Buddha, Sunny, don’t know where the idea came from…..but it’s not my birthday (doesn’t come for months still).

    But thank you both for the good wishes, how sweet!

    Reclining Buddha, funny…. Have you seen the giant gold one at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok?

    Intrigued by Jaanemaan? Hmmmm. today I kept seeing the ads with all 3 stars crying and all I could think was “Salman does what Oprah calls ‘the ugly cry'”. I think I’ll only catch that one if it runs on Star Plus…..

  27. Well Buddha, I disagree with you on that. Amitabh was a superstar too but he did look towards each character he played and hence he is a legend.

  28. Happy Birthday Filmi! 🙂

    I agree with what you said about Rampal needing a good movie to showcase him. He could make a pretty convincing Nicholas Cage as super cop out to save the world, I think.

    Thanks for the official website press clip – you’ll see from my review that we share several images! But Bebo did look like a hatti-khatti Punju….

    The reclining Buddha is very attractive – I’ve been told this before….:)

    Am now intrigued by Jaanemann – not sure if I can quite stomach it on the big screen, but it might be one for the DVD….

    Agree with what people are saying about SRK – he’s too much himself on screen to be able to look past that visage towards the character. The flaw of being a superstar…Aamir is much better at reinventing himself in each movie.

    Happy Diwali all!

  29. I saw Don. If you don’t compare it to the original Don it’s OK; otherwise SRK is not a patch on the great AB. SRK was bad as vijay (if you compare it with AB as Vijay) and better than KANK as Don. The movie was flat.

  30. great review!!!
    I did a double DON and JEM in one theatre, Don Kicks Jem ass!!!…..people in the theatre were cheering for Don , I have not encountered such enthusiasm, JEM on the other hand bored me to death,nothing impressive except for the new technical stuff…Salman and Akki? ugh!!

    Sakshi: every single review except the rediff one praised SRK’s performance, even the ones who didn’t like the film…

    Don has a greart repeat value, very entertaining, I will be shocked if JEM makes more money…the lines for Don were longer, and only after the shows sold out , did those disappointed people go to JEM….
    SRK was great as a bad guy, he seriously rocked, his vijay was awsome, and the double role was fantastic to see…and he is finally dancing..KP and Moreya Re were fantastic!!

  31. Yeah, I heard that he couldn’t pull off the “Khaike Pan” song and the Vijay character before he becomes DON. Amitabh was a master in that sort of thing

  32. Ah Buddha, well, it’s not often we get a chance here to overcome the fact that India’s almost a half day ahead… Believe me, I was bleary-eyed when the alarm went off.

    Yes, the Munch was priceless, but then I also noticed a reclining Buddha (a reclining you?) that looked a helluva lot like one I got in Bangkok this year, though mine certainly does not want for the protection of a huge walk-in safe….

    The coffin bit was quite well played. I wish someone would come up with a good vehicle for Arjun Rampal to really show what he can do. On his unlikely IT guru-ness, NDTV keeps running a promo for a “making of Don” show they have on today and there’s a blooper of hamara sundar Arjun messing up some line in English about a file or a password or somesuch, and then he pauses, realizing he goofed and intoning in that wonnnnnnnnderful deep voice of his “Kya?” Priceless.

    Yeah, Buddha, what were you looking at? How could you miss her legs??? Actually, if you go to the movie’s website, inside the PDF file Press Kit there’s a ton of photos, including one of Bebo where you can see what I’m talking about.

    Happy Diwali, TBS!

  33. Sunny, well, he was a heck of a lot better than in KANK, though not as good as in Veer-Zaara, for example.

    Plus, I think at this point, in almost all his movies, SRK suffers from the same situation as Robin Williams, De Niro, Jack Nicholson (not that I’m saying they’re equal talents), just that no matter what he does on screen, he is so much himself, or at least the filmi version of SRK, that that is who we get.

    The one thing missing in Don, that would have helped, was some backstory for him. At what point in his life did he become this person? What was he like before then? What motivates him? Etc Etc

    I’ll be curious to see what they’re saying on TV. Late last night/early today NDTV’s guy was saying that he rather liked Don, though I think he had some nits to pick too.

    Let’s see what you think…

  34. Can’t believe you got a review out before me! Went to see it first day, but missed the previews that open a day before (the disadvantages of being in a small Indian town in the Himalayas)

    Already have a review up – and am glad you picked up the Edward Munch inside joke as well. What did you think of the bit where Rampal is in a coffin – felt like a mix between Kill Bill & Saw…

    You had the time to look at Kareena Kapoor’s calves?! What was I looking at?!

    I enjoyed the movie – and have to admit, not being a big fan of either Salman, Akshay or Preity, Jaanemann might need to be given a miss!

  35. Sakshi: Could you please say this on Naatch Gaana as a lot of folks are still debating which is going to be better.

    Filmiholic: I am going to watch DON tonight and Jaan-e-Mann tomorrow night. So do you really think SRK acted well? According to Rediff Don has disappointed and that SRK’s performance was inconsistent. On the other hand, Rediff gives high reviews to JeM and says that both Sallu and Akki were very lovable.

  36. Well it seems that Don…is going down..down…down and OUT. The reviews havent been great in this part of the world.

    Just saw Jaan-e-Mann…and I will say is that “YOU GOTTO WATCH IT….NOW”.

  37. Kamla, thanks. According to the “press kit” on the movie website, no mention of MM, sirf Aki Narula, of the “Bunty aur Babli” wardrobe kerfuffle.

    The mid-air fight scene, eh, not terribly impressed by it. Rather, I liked the car chase scene through the narrow village lanes, and some of the shots of Arjun Rampal on the bridge between the Petronas Towers, though I think the editing and continuity there was a little clunky. I do hope they do a proper “making of” segement and a director’s comments track when the DVD comes out, not just the usual made-for-satellite-TV-hamming-it-up.

    Musical, thanks, and yeah, I look at the clips of Jaan-e-Maan and I think that both Salman and Akshay need to find another way to transition into the next stage of their careers, whatever the next stage after beefcake/action figure is…(aging, dyed and toupéed sagging beefcake/action figure?) Happy Diwali to you too!

  38. Arrey Vah, fantastic. this review made my day :). One great review. am a die-hard SRK fan. am hoping i wud get to watch this movie soon.

    slick flick it does seem to be from the promos (and ur review)and i guess it wud be unfair comparing it to AB’s Don.

    Dunno’ how Jaan-e-Mann is going to be cuz’ Akshay Kumar seems clearly over the top in make-up, ward-robe and much else. watch him with the wig in his “college geek” days, amkes u cringe.

    But Don sounds good. Great fun for Diwali. Wish you a great Diwali.

  39. Nice review…very detailed. This is one sleek production.

    I wonder if Manish Malhotra designed those shirts and ties for SRK? They kind of had his touch.

    Did the mid-air fight scene work for you? I am curious….

    Kamla

  40. Oh Sakshi, be careful, dearest…

    As I typed this review tonight I had the – ahem – treat of seeing a song from Jaan-e-Maan on MTV Desi, and all I could think was: “Is this the first time a Bollywood movied has hired so many dwarves for a musical number?” 🙂

    But hey, as you say, to each his own, so you enjoy SK (oooh and he’s really catty toward SRK in this weekend’s “Walk the Talk” on NDTV, I can’t wait!), and have a terrific Diwali weekend!

  41. Hey….Well I did get a SMS from Shirrin practically yelling off asking me to go and watch the film, plus she mentioned that you liked loved the movie.

    But frankly, I don’t think SRK can do negative roles that well. I mean Darr and Bazigar were good in those time…his haklu (stammering) style was different but today it’s boreing and repetative. It’s like you watch the movie…thinking when would he say, “Mein hoon Da…Da…Da..Don”. 🙂

    Anyways, will surely watch it….but only after watching my Sallu baby’s Jaan-E-Man first. 🙂

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