Farhan Akhtar jaisi picture baanana mushkil hi nahin shayad na mumkin hai. As a filmmaker Farhan undertook the mammoth task of remaking a classic film starring the biggest superstar Hindi cinema has ever scene, a film although thirty plus years old, still fresh in the audiences mind. But from the first scene of the film, you realize that Farhan’s Don is not just a remake of Barot’s classic; it’s not only a more stylish, gadget savy, today’s generation film; it’s a film with a lot more twists and turns with Farhan taking the story to the next level. There were many questions in the audiences in minds in regards to the remake especially revolving around the casting of Shah Rukh Khan, but on seeing the film you come to realize that Farhan has made the right choice because this Don (now referring to the character) may mouth a lot of the dialogues from the original, and yet is not really the same Don.
The introduction sequence of Don happens in Paris and is something which is not there in the original. This scene also establishes that Don as a character is slightly different here. Bachchan’s Don was extremely understated and subtle. He was a man of few words and although had the best of everything, was somehow never too flashy. Shah Rukh’s Don is definitely not understated; he is meant to be arrogant; flashy and a condescending know it all. As the film progresses, you realize that the film is much pacer than the original; the events which happen in the original happen in the remake very quickly establishing the fact that Farhan wanted to ensure that he left enough time for his own twists and turns in the film. The best dialogues of the film have all been retained from “Mujhe uske joothe pasand nahin the” to “Mujhe do kisam ki ladki pasand nahin” to Pran’s “main tumse itni nafrat nahin karta jitna apne bete se pyar” but they all have a different style and impact.
As the film progresses; the interval point not only takes you to almost the point where the original ended; it also throws one of the film’s two biggest twists at the audience. Several scenes which in essence are the same as the original have been changed in terms of treatment; for example in the original when Don (now Vijay) is “taken back” by his gang, they send Roma to the hospital as a nurse to mastermind his escape; here the escape is a more stylish one on the roads of Kuala Lumpur with Roma on a motorcycle. When Don/Vijay is escapes from the police while be transferred from one jail to another this time the escape happens on an airplane and there are several other such alterations in the film which make the events and dialogues of the original a bit more interesting for the viewer who knows the original by heart by offering those same scenes and lines with a fresher more stylish perspective and execution.
The film is not without it shares of flaws; the biggest in terms of execution being a hand to hand fight, mid-air while falling from a plane! One of the most absurd sequences in the film and one wonders considering Farhan’s style and capabilities why such a half baked scene was retained. In addition there are a few cinematic liberties taken which may have stretched a bit too far, especially pertaining to Boman Irani’s character. The pace also drops substantially when Jasjit’s character is released from jail and one also wonders if Arjun Rampal was the right choice for this role as his enactment makes the character extremely flat and two-dimensional hence boring the audiences in these portions.
However Farhan also scores with the visuals of the film both in terms of cinematography (Mohan has done an outstanding job) as well as the stylish editing and post production; split screens have been used in several films in the past (remember Asambhav) but for the first time we see the technique used well; adding to the pace and style of the film. The action sequences are handled with aplomb and each of the characters have there own action style which suits them perfectly.
Although many had doubts on Shah Rukh Khan as Don you come to realize that he has been cast because Farhan wanted to ensure that his Don was different from the way it was played by Amitabh Bachchan. This role required someone who has such a overbearingly strong personality that Farhan could change the character in order to give it a different personality; only SRK could have done this role in his way without trying to ape Bachchan at all or reminding you of how the original was played as he uses his style and at times loud actions to establish this character. He also executes the action sequences with a martial arts style which suits the King Khan but the only drawback is that although he is in great shape, he has starting looking a big old and that takes away slightly from the character. Priyanka Chopra makes the perfect Roma because she too plays the role in her own style; there is not attempt to copy Zeenat Aman here at all and here martial arts action sequences are just amazing as is her overall style in which the toughness and physical strength never override the sexiness and femininity of the character. Arjun Rampal seems a bit lost and a misfit as Jasjit while Isha Koppikar as Anita has a bit more to do than the original but not much more. The surprise package of the film is Boman Irani who the audiences have grown to accept as a phenomenal actor but usually relegated to the comic roles, here he shines in this action thriller in a negative role which he carry’s off almost flawlessly.
Coming to the second major twist of the film, which we obviously will not reveal, it too is handled with a great deal of style and integrated into the script in a perfect manner; Farhan drops subtle hints of this twist throughout the film but it is the clinching dialogue when Vijay is about to get in the ambulance which takes a minute to register (with Roma as well as the audiences) that makes the audiences hold their breathe and almost smile at Farhan’s intelligence and interpretation of the film. There is no doubt that this film will draw extreme reactions; there will be those who hate it because they just can’t get the original out of their mind and in which case they will not enjoy Farhan’s adaptation or SRK’s enactment and there will be those who will love this film because of Farhan’s sheer writing and directorial capabilities and because the film adds much more to the original, making it a film for today’s generation. Farhan, please take a bow as you truly are the King!