Well…I’m still reeling from the Don hangover. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. After all, can you really ‘remake’ a cult classic? And that also, a Bachchan clasic. Nahin…kabhi nahin. Don ka remake karna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai. But surprisingly, both Farhan Akhtar and SRK don’t really give you a chance to say, “I told you so.” The film is an irreverent take on the original…a tribute by a true fan. And unlike the Chandra Barot original, it’s not concerned with the poor ganga kinare chora (lad from the banks of Ganges) who, thanks to the DCP saab, got himself embroiled in a sticky situation. Make no mistake…Farhan Akhtar’s Don is about…Don…the asli Don…not the impersonator Vijay. And, therein lies the twist (which incidentally the second half is full of!)
Akhtar takes Don from the urban metropolis of Bombay…which thanks to Ram Gopal Varma has been transformed into the gritty Mumbai…too gritty for our suave and stylish Don. So…Don goes to Malayasia…just another spot on the global map which our heroes seem to traverse so effortlessly (wonder where all that dough comes from!?) Skyscrapers, drug deals, high tech cars, and the proverbial ‘girl-with-the-long-legs-and-killer-smile’ (aka Isha Koppikar and Priyanka Chopra)…yep, Malayasia it is! Not that Don doesn’t pay a visit to the good ol’ motherland…but only for a crazy car chase, interpersed with bullock carts, STD booths and hordes of animals. The only departure from the global milieu (aka Malayasia) is suitably ‘labelled’ India/Bharat (in both English and Hindi) and the first shot is…yes, you guessed it right…a bullock cart. But wait…in case you are wondering…no this is no snapshot of the ‘Indian village’, the dusty yet beautiful, tranquil, innocent etc etc etc rural abode. Naah…there are the signs of modernity…the ubiquitous STD booths…and a weird mish-mash of rural-meets-urban disjuncture. No wonder, Don flies promptly back to Malayasia….though not before pulling off the coup d’etat. After all, he is ‘Don’ (no mean feat). And yes, Vijay does make an appearance…sprouts some of the Bachchan lines, does a Ganesh Chaturthi jig, agrees to DCP De Silva’s plan…SRK looking completely uncomfortable and ill at ease with ganga kinare chora act…since (as we all know) there’s only one person who can pull it off…the one and only Big B! Thankfully, King Khan quickly reverts back to his cool, mean, and oh so stylish Don act.
Don has his usual cronies…Narang, Mac et al…and his moll (Koppikar)…and his nemesis aka the ‘beauty-with-an-axe-to-grind’ (Chopra). Kareena Kapoor sizzles, looks hot, has the right moves…but still fails to recreate the Helen ‘oomph’. Priyanka Chopra is surprisingly good and looks awesome in a bodysuit. But I missed good ol’ Zeenie baby in her ‘micromini’ nurse garb. Arjun Rampal was a refreshing change from a middle-aged Pran hobbling on the tightrope. Om Puri was wasted. But can’t say the same about Boman Irani…that was ‘the’ twist! And only Irani could have pulled it off…completely subverting Ifthkar’s ramrod ‘i-am-the-good-cop-so-dont-you-mess-with-the-law’ act. You have to give it to Farhan Akhtar…to take a Big B cult classic, commit blasphemy, and actually get away with it (not to mention, make pots of money!)
Now…the 64 rupee question…can SRK do a Bachchan? No…and he doesn’t even try. You can feel his awe when he mouths some of the original dialogues. But he adds his own ishtyle…the snarl, the scowl, the ‘oh-so-cool-that-it-sizzles’ gait, and the ‘look’…and you have SRK in a refreshingly different avataar than his KJo flicks. But yes, I did miss Bachchan romancing Roma in the swimming pool (though SRK did show off his squeaky clean chest). But to get a taste of SRK in the buff (and that also in tub of rose petals), check out his Lux ad
What I missed…Zeenie baby with her super awesome n deadly cool hairdo, the yeh hai Bambaiya nagariya song, Asha crooning yeh mera dil, Kishore (obviously), Helen, and the graveyard scene. Not to mention…Big B.
Contrary to my apprehensions, the music doesn’t really disappoint. Shanker-Ehsan-Loy did a great job of rehashing the Kalyanji-Anandji numbers. And the aaj ki raat song is a winner. Though initially I didn’t like the new, remixed version of khaike paan banaraswala, I have to admit it has kind of grown on me. And yes, the new techno main hoon don is so so so groovy!
So…what clinched it? Definitely, the twist…especially THE final twist…left me with a gaping mouth and a ‘what-the’hell’ look. It was awesome! I still have a hangover! Too good biddu…poora paisa vasool. Akhtar’s Don is truly a tribute to ‘the’ Don. Don ko pakadna mushkil ni nahin, namumkin hai (it is not only difficult to catch Don, but impossible).
P.N. For the ‘diaspora’ (also the non-desi) audience, there were meanings within parenthesis for such ‘Indian’ terms as bhang (= milk brewed with marijuana) and halwa (= hot Indian dessert). That’s globalization for you!