The following review was published online at Dawn.com, 28th December 2011. The published version is linked at the end of the post. This is an updated copy.
A Villain, Sometimes Hero-like, But Always Nefarious
By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
“Don Ko Pakadna Mushkil Hi Nahin, Na-Mumkin Hai”. Despite its obvious hyperbole, trust me, substantiating the claim takes a really, really long time.
“Don 2”, staring Shah Rukh Khan, directed and written by Farhan Akhtar (in association with Ameet Mehta and Amrish Shah), believes itself a slick, twisting thriller from the villain’s vantage point. In earnest, its template is a counterfeit mixture of successful recipes: Mix the bombast of “James Bond” within a covering of “Mission: Impossible”, add a dash of the “Bourne Identity”, bake until climax. Sprinkle a helping of double-deception to taste.
The double-deception, a continuing fixation from the first “Don”, by itself is pretty neat. And sometimes, the mix-plate recipe actually works, regardless of its proclivity to aggrandize the obvious; but not in the sense of regular Bollywood bastardizations.
Farhan Akhtar has the right idea: create a franchise on an untreatable villain (his villainy, is after all, a bad habit turned disease). Take him away from India. Have him fabricate an improbable, though not impossible premise. And then, let it rip.
“Don 2” starts with an action sequence, five years after “Don”. Don is a big commodity in Asia, and like every successful merchant, he wants to expand his enterprise overseas – Europe to be precise. As this requires creating a little headway in the already overcrowded European underworld market – and frankly, what underworld magnate would want rivals to infiltrate his domain – the cartels huddle together with an agenda to “do (Don) in”.
The set-up is relatively easy, and SRK – donning stylized, uncombed hair, 10-day facial hair and a big “D” tattooed on his right arm – takes out his welcoming committee with relative ease and lackluster pizazz. He then turns himself in at the gate of Interpol HQ, to a flabbergasted Inspector Malik and Roma (Om Puri and Priyanka Chopra – one idle, the other abstemious; both a little blank).
Malik is on the verge of retirement, and Roma, Don’s “Junglee Billi” from the first movie, may be the next in line for promotion. We don’t really know if that promotion happens or not, because both Roma and Malik are put on the backburner. They are treated as a futile hyperlink for narrative consistency. Roma, although becomes the long arm of the law, is always a step behind “Don”. There’s always a heavy burdened expression that she does not really believe that “Don” has turned a new leaf. But that’s ok. We don’t believe him either.
Don meets up Vardhan (Boman Irani, as effective as he is told to be) at a Malaysian prison, they escape, hire a crack-shot hacker (Kunal Kapoor) and plot to steal the printing plates from a Euro printing bank.
SRK is Don, in the literal sense of the word. There’s a subdued cockiness to his attitude, that’s bordering on lunacy. To see SRK barely missing the fine-line between overacting and subdued madness is worth the price of admission alone. And on top of that he fights with the ferocity – and technique – of a trained spy, rather than a Bollywood hero. There’s a method to his madness, that’s only belittled by Farhan Akhtar’s overtly-relaxed prose.
There’s also Lara Dutta…in there somewhere, with little to do except look sumptuous with a knowing look that says “I know what’s happening”. In reality she is perhaps as lost as Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s musical numbers.
Produced by Red Chilies Entertainment and Excel Entertainment. Released by Reliance. Imported by Tehelka.
“Don 2” stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani, Kunal Kapoor, Aly Khan, Nawab Shah, Sahil Shroff, Florian Lukas, Lara Dutta and Om Puri, with Hrithik Roshan (in special appearance).
Based on the characters created by Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar. Written by, Farhan Akhtar, Ameet Mehta and Amrish Shah; Cinematography by, Jason West; Editing by, Anand Subaya, Ritesh Soni; Music by, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Lyrics by, Javed Akhtar; Produced by, Shah Rukh Khan, Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani.
“Don 2” may be the next big international, Bollywood franchise. But to head-butt, say “Mission: Impossible”, it still has a lot of ground to cover.
Mohammad Kamran Jawaid (MKJ) is the resident film critic at Images on Sunday, with an exclusive Second Opinion based film review column “Animadversion”
The review was published on Dawn.com at: http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/28/movie-review-don-2.html
Published date: 28 December 2011