The King is Back! Well... Er...
With each passing Farhan Akhtar film, it only becomes clearer what a huge milestone Dil Chahta Hai is. Such a burden around his neck this albatross seems to be, that nothing less-cooler (and more importantly, less sincere) would be accepted henceforth. Lakshya’s second half hence reminded of LOC and gosh, wasn’t remaking Don almost declared as a Crime. Thats because, for all the Star-driven multi-billion projects, we know there is somebody like Mister Farhan Akhtar who seems he would never resort to ANY devil of this ego-centric industry of ours.
And when that guy decides he would go for a sequel of what was already a much-bashed remake, it hurts. Hurts to realise why the guy does not want to do more with his time and talent. Its like James Cameron never deciding to move on from the Terminator series, as much enthralling it has been to millions of its fan across the globe.
Compliments first. Don 2 is unpretentious, campy fun, slick, (partially) stylish, beautifully shot. Complaint, only one – its by Farhan Akhtar, we expect more than just that. Period.
The grudge is not that Farhan Akhtar goes for an out-and-out style-only approach for this action flick (no more a tribute to Amitabh Bachchan or his childhood memories, mind you). The grudge is that we see so little of his auteurship amidst all the lark, something exactly which set him apart and DCH.
So this is the kind of film where, when not blowing cars and taking acceptable cinematic liberies and trying to ape another SRK-driven action flicks’ franchise, Akhtar writes entire functional scenes between an almost made-sidey Roma and an even more of a sidekick named Arjun, which have neither any point nor any wit or charm, to even seem to make sense. Where He has to convince Hrithik for a cameo which serves no purpose to the goings-on, whatsoever.
Akhtar does get the humour for his protagonist right, must say some of them work really well and lend the film just that right sense of humour. but after a while it does get a little tiring as you dear Don bragging about himself in third-person.
I was surprised to find a few critics finding logical loopholes or pinpointing the cinematic liberties. Logic-wise, Don 2 is as unabashedly Bollywood as it can get. Cars smashed like bubbles, police arriving late, Retiring officers hanging out as ever – everything happens to the screenwriter’s convenience. No problemo. But it hurts when a half-hearted hence laugh inducing attempt creeps in, asking us to believe someone like Don would, even if for a while.. even if pretending to…. get tired from this life of crime and running away. Ha!
Speaking of change of intentions, Don 2 is one heist movie with the longest 3rd act possible. It doesn’t take much time post-interval for the film to enter its final stage – i.e. the entire Heist sequence. And since it all mostly happens around that half-burnt DZB building, as opposed to a gamut of locations and places, the pace seems even more stagnant.
I feel the saddest for Roma, hence Priyanka Chopra as well. One of the many cool things about Don, both the original and the remake (though especially the original) was its female fatale lead Roma, brimmed with the longing to serve the dish best served cold. Priyanka Chopra sustained that raw-yet-styled sense of anger in the remake. However, out here, she is made to be a sidey-cardboard whose feelings neither she herself nor the viewer could decipher. Its a bloody joke, how Akhtar resorts to a farcical romantic development between her and Don as the film is just promising to land smoothly.
Somehow around the beginning of the Bank premise part, the lift feels a slight jerk. At that moment, a fellow lift-mate quips – “I hope it crashes AFTER i get out.” And i felt, *This* is kind of movie Don 2 should have been, where not a single opportunity to make a quip or capture a gorgeous visual would be let gone.
Yet, Akhtar sacrifices it all to make a film so SRK-centric, he more or less loses himself in the process. More often than not, its a good thing for a director to leave behind whats expected of him and color himself in a movie’s personality. But Don (the remake, interpretation, whatever) had that in plenty. However, something about this sequel doesn’t give that vibe.
During the ‘Hai Ye Maya’ heist-preparations, he is busy informing us about, well, how are they preparing for the big day… and no effort is made what-so-ever to infuse some sense of style or the very coolness, thats the point of a film like this. Don 2 suffers from this lack of direction, throughout its running time.
But perhaps its for our better than we make peace with the intentions of the actor-director that are very clear here – To politely rob the ‘Don’ franchise from any retro Amitabh Bachchan coolness it ever had, and sneakily make it their own. I would not be surprised if Akhtar decides to spend a few more years of his future on the next parts of this brand.
And Shah Rukh sure doesn’t mind that, for he is having the time of his life, giving all those deadly smirks and mouthing those to-cool-to-be-just-a-thought Don-isms among other one-liners – only like he can. This is almost a pornographically obessed SRK-worship. To his credit, Khan finally unveils the burden of the 1978-original as he succeeds, finally, in patenting the character as his own. This is Akhtar, doing his best for SRK to convince him… that the King is Back indeed.