Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani,Om Puri
Directed by Farhan Akhtar
Music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy
It was back in 2006 that Farhan Akhtar came up with a remake for the Amitabh hit, Don, which according to me, was just a gimmick to sell off a climax which Akhtar Jr. presumed to be a smart one. Not many agreed with Farhan back then, but everyone did seem keen to have the director and his star Shahrukh back for a Don sequel to set things right.
Don 2, therefore, is not only a much anticipated sequel, but also a film which many would believe would be the perfect Xmas gift to an industry that is still waiting for that big hit that would please the fans and the critics alike.
The story picks up nearly five years after the events of the earlier film, where the dreaded ‘Don’ (Shahrukh Khan) finds himself in a tricky position. Not only is he still on the ‘Most Wanted’ List of the international police, he is also put up on the ‘Want Him Dead’ list by the rest of the mafia cartels as well. So our man decides that he needs to scheme out a plan, just enough to get rid of both these problems, and be rich (and also something that would make audiences interested in a sequel)!
So Farhan Akhtar inserts the character of Don into a bank heist scenario. Don decides to infiltrate a top bank in Germany and for this he manages to assemble a team which includes his old foe Vardhan (Boman Irani), his kitty bombshell Ayesha (Lara Dutta), a system hacker Sameer (Kunal Kapoor), and a bunch of goons headed by Jabbar (Nawwab Shah).
Let the mission begin. And the mission gets interesting because hot on their heels are the cops fromIndia– ‘junglee billi’ Roma (Priyanka Chopra), her doting colleague Arjun (Sahil Shroff) and the now retired Inspector Malick (Om Puri).
Hence Farhan, who goes about essentially making a sequel about a mafia king on the run, is content to settle in for a standard bank heist thriller, eventually over cooking it to the point of a hostage action. This genre defying stunt is not always a bad thing, if handled deftly. However Akhtar fails to do that with this sequel.
Neither the writers (the trio of Farhan Akhtar, Ameet Mehta, Amrish Shah) nor the viewers are sure as to what to make of the title character. Blurring the lines of the protagonist and the antagonist, we have to root for a narcissistic bad boy. Except for the fact that it is played by the popular King Khan, there ain’t much redeeming qualities about the man. We are asked to accept that he is the best because he keeps talking and singing praises of his every move, his every tactic, his every thought!
Don’s so-called brilliant plans include getting his rival out of prison to retrieve a hidden key, which would eventually enable him to blackmail a leading bank official. This would further assist him in getting the details of an object that he intends to steal from the bank, only to blast his way through with the help of his team, with bombs, guns and detonators. All this, after sneaking into the bank using hi-tech hacking techniques. Does it all make sense? Probably not, but you don’t ask questions to the Don – for is not he the man with the plan?
Farhan Akhtar uses techniques and gadgets used and abused by the Bonds and Ethan Hunts of the celluloid. While they have gone about raising the bar with each installment, Farhan Akhtar and SRK seem to be still trying to catch up with them. So essentially everything that Bollywood tries to do with Don, Hollywoodhas already done that. But we still try, and the audience has to give in to that. So even if they pull in a face mask stunt (to insert a top star cameo), we are not to raise our reservations on how they got the voice and physical attributes to change as well, right? I thought so too!
We could do away with logic if it was meant to be a fun ride. But unfortunately they do not play it out on that tone either. Things are seriously and blandly played out for most of the first half, and never do we think that Don is any Danny Ocean having fun while he pulls off a near impossible heist. Instead, we are limited to some one-liners from Khan which he presumes is witty.
The second half does get interesting when you realize that that there are going to be glitches in the plan. However the cops step in, and you realize that Akhtar is just tactically dragging us with one excuse or the other, to the inevasible climax (much like the original). If only it was smart as he think it is!
The humour here is unintentional, and you get plenty of that in the second half. The cops in the film takes centre stage to blurt out absurd dialogues one after that other. Some of the ones that Om Puri and Priyanka deliver would have you chuckling away. You also get this feeling that Farhan Akhtar was busy holidaying somewhere in Spain every time Priyanka steps in with her lame ‘kick ass cop’ act.
The film obviously works on how much of Shahrukh one can endure. You do realize that there is no attempt at getting into the skin of any character here. Shahrukh would go about hamming away, grinding his teeth, pulling off a swaggering walk while seemingly sneering away at his own punch dialogues. He seems content doing it all, even pit stopping for a romantic lover boy act amidst blazing guns, as if throwing in a combo offer for his female fans. How sweet!
Looking at how Priyanka has handled the character of Roma, you know why the cops are unable to track down a criminal like Don over the years. She plays it like a rookie college dropout rather than the chief investigating officer that she is supposed to be. Boman Irani and Om Puri, despite being bundles of talents, are made to play out caricatures. Kunal is just about ok , whereas Lara Dutta manages to impress in the little scenes that she gets to chew on. Sadly, the writers were unable to find a fitting slot for her in the script.
Farhan Akhtar is undoubtedly a fine director if you go by his works in his debut Dil Chahta Hai and his follow up Lakshya. However he seems wanting when it comes to the action genre and it clearly is highlighted in the Don original and in this sequel too. Focusing on a slick treatment, the film lacks any emotional core, and ends up a hollow but impressive looking assignment. With the entire Germany at his disposal, cinematography from Jason West (Rock on) is noteworthy, gloss and gleam intact. And as for action sequences, effort has been made to make them stand out from the rest of them. It is a different matter though that there is a mechanical feel to the way it is staged out. The music does not have much of a role to play, and thankfully, the narration does not stop for songs.
Don 2, ultimately, is a disappointment because despite the workings of a top notch action thriller, the script fails to live it up. Moreover, it is unfortunate to see a director like Farhan Akhtar settling in for a safe way out. Though I would not go to the extent of saying Don’t to Don 2, it is advisable to keep your expectations low – pretty low!
Rating: 2.5 / 5