Don, Don, Don... (playing the title song)
Knew I liked Don when I played this silly knock knock joke once. Revisited Don (2006) this past weekend, and liked it some more this second time around. Was privileged to have viewed it with Shweta of Apni East India Company, which is where this review will conclude.
Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Arjun Rampal, Priyanka Chopra, Isha Koppikar, Boman Irani, Om Puri and others, Don was directed by Farhan Akhtar, who made his directorial debut with the spectacular Dil Chahta Hai (2001). The film was a remake of a film with the same name from 1978, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran, and others. I have not seen the latter, so I shall not be able to draw comparisons. Although we agreed that this version can, as a standalone product, be judged on its own merit given the performances and production. So here are my highlights from the film:
1. For a film that sells style, the first scene set in Paris, France is perfect. Remember this shot, for it promises to be the subject of the song for each picture series:
This shot serves as a friendly reminder, at the very outset, for why Don would want to be a don to begin with (think scalability).
And this roadway is not too far at all from the Buddha Bar in Paris, which was mentioned in this post:
2. Next, we are taken to Malaysia, where D.C.P. DeSilva, played by Boman Irani, is shown discussing the Asian underworld's most prolific member, Don.
3. Roma (Priyanka Chopra) is good friends with her brother's love interest, Kamini (Kareena Kapoor).
4. This shot makes it because it shows Don laughing to Tom and Jerry (see, he is down to earth!). And those towels with the letter 'D' are too classy. Might as well brand them with the 'SR' (as in St. Regis, or Shah Rukh perhaps?). Later, we even saw pillow cases with the letter 'D'.
5. The first scene at the club is beautifully done. Almost every movie these days has songs or scenes set in a club. But it's refreshing to see one that is realistic. Here is Kamini, flirting with Don as she grooves to music from Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe from Dil Chahta Hai (2001).
She manages to make her way to what seems like a beautifully decorated penthouse suite. The cigarette is relevant because there was a debate ongoing at the time of the film's release that denounced the use of cigarettes in cinema.
Liked the bit where Don says that he is wary of two kinds of women: 1) those who take a while to trap; and 2) those who throw themselves at him. Kamini is the latter, but she has her motives. So despite being belittled, she dances for him, in the song 'Yeh Mera Dil' (watch it here).
6. Kareena's chapter is closed soon enough, and now we focus on Roma joining Don's gang, and on a compact disc containing some important data.
(Aside: From this point on, they all fight throughout the film for the disc. What someone should have done was to look for this laptop computer. Don's technology security people should have known to tell him that merely sending items to the recycle bin, or emptying the recycle bin, does not rid a hard drive of the data. I know, I know, it's very technical, but I'm only being picky because the rest of it was done rather well.)
I hope for Don's sake (not that I was rooting for him or anything) that he held on to all the gold in his vault (there were other angles that showcase the gold, but not Don), for gold has been hitting all-time highs recently.
7. Don then gets into a car chase with the cops. Not wearing his seat belt was bound to catch up to him some day, for this time he is unlucky and ends up in the hospital following an accident.
8. Then there is the Don look-alike, Vijay, who is part of 'Vijay Band', as the sign in this picture notes.
Vijay gives us my favorite song of the film, Moriya Re, in praise of Shri Ganesh. The ambiance in this song is extremely well captured, as anyone who has participated in a procession (I have!) will tell you. Add to that that they end up in Chowpatty in Bombay, and this song is one to remember. Beautifully done!
Sample it here:
Speaking of Chowpatty and Bombay, here is my favorite, Nariman Point again! I have mentioned this roadway more than any other on this blog, because it was so close to home. Those two floodlights (top left of the picture) are part of the Wankhede Stadium of cricket. And the kid with the hat is none other than Tanay Chheda, who played the role of Rajan in Taare Zameen Par (2007).
9. Jasjeet (Arjun Rampal) is introduced next. And then things start getting a little tricky.
10. The stunning Sushma Reddy, who I fell in love with in Chocolate (2005), makes an extra-special appearance (much like Chunky Pandey earlier).
11. In the mean time, Vijay has taken D.C.P. DeSilva's bait and consented to play Don, since the real Don is apparently done. The police need Vijay's help to get to Don's accomplices.
12. Things get a little out of hand from here on. They are mostly entertaining. While the twists are beyond the scope of this entry, here is a sampling: a) There is a dramatic rescue;
b) A car chase that is better than anything we saw in Race (2008) or the Dhoom series;
c) Questioning at the police station;
d) A duel in mid-air in which Vijay does not even lose his jacket, let alone the parachute;
e) A Jasjeet-Vijay duel;
f) and one with Vijay and the D.C.P. in this spectacular location...
...in which the infamous disc makes an appearance;
16. So who will win? Jasjeet, the D.C.P., Vijay, Roma, or Anita? Or is there something else that does not meet the eye that will take us by storm?
13. Some songs along the way are nice. Khaike Paan Banaaras Waala is the weakest of all songs, although I liked the lights here (a realistic setup, again):
Aaj Ki Raat is just a beautiful song that fits in well. Again, the setting is a club. Again, the execution is flawless. Add to this the voices of Alisha Chinai (in fine form here!) and Sonu Nigam, among others. Listened to Asha Bhosle sing this song live in concert, and I do wish she had a role in it. In any case, the song is rather good (watch it here), and another component of the film that oozes class:
'Main Hoon Don', the title song, is well done too, and Anita (Isha Koppikar) looks fabulous:
Wonder if marketers from Thums Up (the popular soft drink in India, now part of Coca-Cola's product portfolio) caught this! Taste the Thunder, courtesy Don!
All right, so maybe this was a flip of a coin, but it is still relevant. :)
The following line from the title song, 'Bohat Hi Khatarnaak Hoon Mein' (I am very dangerous), reminded me of this Margaret Thatcher quote:
"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t."
Got it, Don?
14. Credit to whoever set up the gadgets in the film. They are not at all over-the-top, and employ technology that is part of our culture. Loved the generous use of biometric devices and this laser keyboard, which is a thing of beauty (it is surprisingly affordable)!
Too bad Don didn't get one of these keyboards for his phone, which left a lot to be desired. One would expect the King of Bollywood (he proves his worth in this film) to use a better phone. A case of product placement negatively impacting the film, if you ask me.
15. Of course, no review of this film is complete without mention of my favorite Don-related parody, in Partner (2007), where Rajpal Yadav was fantastic as Chota Don (little Don). Here is a sampling.
Now, hop on over to this post at Apni East India Company, where this post is complemented with conclusions on this film, including pros, and cons. Enjoy!