Anyone who followed Indian movies in the late 70’s could not have escaped the “Don”.
Amitabh Bachchan played Don in the original that was promptly copied as Billa starring Rajinikanth in the Tamil version.
Such was the impact of Amitabh’s Don that it was re-made a few years ago with Shah Rukh Khan which prompted Kollywood to remake Billa with the remarkably talentless Ajith Kumar.
With Don 2, Farhan Akhtar gives us for the first time in over three decades a new plot for Don. It only took 30+ years to come up with a new story but knowing Bollywood / Kollywood that should hardly be a surprise.
Just to make up for the three decades, Farhan tosses in a gimmick in the form of 3D.
Farhan Akhtar takes credit for Story, Screenplay, co-Production and Direction for Don 2.
Shah Rukh Khan reprises the title role. Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani, and Om Puri reprise their roles from Don 1.
Story & Screenplay
It is surprising how an average mindless heist movie by Hollywood standards can almost seem like a thrilling never-seen-before outing by Indian standards.
Don 2 combines Hollywoodish style with Bollywoodian “brain.”
The result is a stylish and rich visual experience (if you can pretend Priyanka Chopra didn’t exist) with a not so gratifying depth in story-telling.
Don 2 doesn’t offer any “Bingo” or “Gotcha” moments for the regular Hollywood movie buffs but it isn’t bad by the abject standards of Indian movies.
Don 2 starts a few years after Don 1 ended. If you didn’t watch Don 1 then you must be told that it ended differently than the original i.e. the Amitabh version of the Don movie.
Don 1 ends with Don (SRK) giving the Interpol, Malaysian and Indian cops the slip leaving his beau(??) Roma (Priyanka Chopra) high and dry. No pun intended 😉
In the years between Don 1 and 2, Don has become the top kingpin drug supplier all over Asia and spreading his footprint into Europe. This frustrates the European drug lords and they plan to kill Don.
Of course, Don escapes!
Meanwhile, Roma, who wanted to avenge her brother’s death in part 1 by killing Don, is now a high ranking Interpol officer with a male assistant who has the hots for her. I wonder how she got that job… hmmm
While the audience pray the Priyanka away, she is hell bent on finding Don. Mr. Malik (Om Puri) suddenly decides to retire after 37 years in duty and asks Roma to walk him to his car.
As they step out of the elevator, they find Don waiting for them.
Don deliberately surrenders and is sent to prison with a death sentence.
All this is part of Don’s elaborate scheme to meet Vardhan (Boman Irani) in the prison, win back his trust and plan a grand heist.
Don and Vardhan stage a prison break and escape to Switzerland where they meet Don-lady Ayesha (Lara Dutta). Don hatches a plan to steal the Euro currency printing plates from a German Bank. He uses a tape that only Vardhan has access to. This tape has the German bank’s Senior official Diwan (Aly Khan) spilling some secrets to blackmail Diwan.
After moving from Thailand to Malaysia to Switzerland, the story finally settles down in Berlin, Germany.
Don forms a team for the big heist.
Besides Vardhan and Ayesha, the team includes Sameer (Kunal Kapoor), a hacker naturally! Isn’t it a norm now for all heist movies to have a superb hacker? It reminded me of Premji in Mankatha who digitally secures Nav-taal pootu. :-D.
Also joining force with this team is one Jabbar (don’t recall his real name) and his gang. They originally hunt Don on behalf of Diwan but change sides for money.
Does this team successfully steal the plates? Can they trust each other? What does the Interpol / German Police do?
These questions get answered in the cat and mouse game that ensues.
Want to know the answers? Go and watch the movie.
The questions in my mind were a little different. Can Priyanka act? Will the hacker Sameer zoom into Roma’s cleavage? Will Don-lady Ayesha perform a strip show to seduce Don? Will Rajinikanth’s Chitti make a special appearance in the climax? Will SRK speak one line without the wintery shiver + goat’s bleat?
Good Stuff and the Not so Good
Don 2 isn’t a bad movie by Indian standards.
Yes, it’s a tried and tested plot line repeated every year in some Hollywood movie.
Yes, the acting isn’t really spectacular but overall, it is better than most mindless farts that Bollywood is known to expel every Friday.
Good Production Values
How many times have you seen a movie that nearly matches Hollywood in richness and visual appeal?
This is where Don 2 scores its maximum brownie points. The screen looks polished and matches the visual quality of the movie running in the next screen in AMC / Regal Cinemas.
Fine Action and Adequate Special Effects
After the hideous junk thrown our way in the name of action by the incomparable Akshay Kumar and his likes, the action in Don 2 come as a refreshing surprise.
The movie has lots of action but never goes overboard. Aiding the action are fine special effects.
The two scenes that stood out for me were the prison break and the car chase in Berlin.
Well done, Farhan!
Not a Bad Heist Movie
Some may see the whole elaborate scheme for the heist as convoluted but I thought it wasn’t bad at all.
Yes, it wasn’t novel but at least it wasn’t totally ridiculous and dumb.
In fact, I would rate this plot on par with MI4.
Loopholes / Illogical Scenes
Loopholes and assholes are two inalienable elements of Indian movies.
You have sufficient numbers of both usually.
I am not going to dissect into each and every nonsensical item but here are a couple of examples:
1. How does a hardened and wanted criminal get immunity from the German government after a mere phone call from the German Bank chief?
2. Why do these movies have a “Know-it-all” hacker who can snoop into anything starting with the outside of the underground vault to the inside of Priyanka Chopra’s panty with just a click of a button. No! he doesn’t literally venture there. It was a figurative reference.
3. German Cops just start there and let Roma and Malik lead the operations where they have no jurisdiction.
4. Don and Roma suddenly decide to romance during the climactic sequences when bullets and explosions are flying left and right. Farhan should get a tight slap from Papa Javed Akhtar for playing with fire!
“Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi na-mumkin hai” – So, you pretty much know how the movie is going to end.
Farhan throws in a few twists and turns, none of which take you by surprise. The proceedings are very predictable with the action being the saving grace (or distraction rather!)
I hate 3D because it doesn’t improve the story, screenplay or performances.
I hate 3D because it is a few $s more for the same movie, which I have to watch with inconvenient glasses on.
I hate 3D in Don 2 because there are hardly any 3D worthy scenes. The only thing that was constantly in 3D were the English subtitles.
SRK as Don is hardly convincing.
He fails to bring the intensity and menace that a lanky tall man with a deep baritone and a deadpan face can bring in. 😉
SRK’s Don is stylish but is unable to be arrogant, ruthless yet classy at the same time.
Maybe it is too much to ask.
One thing SRK cannot be faulted is for trying. He looks old but still lean and fit.
He has experimented with a few different looks and hair styles. Not all of them look great but none look bad.
Priyanka Chopra’s Roma is an Interpol Officer who is always seen in designer outfits even at work. With little screen time and hardly any relevance to the plot her role is relegated to the background. An unknown actor is courting her while Lara Dutta in a secondary role shares more screen space with SRK or at least it appears that way. Priyanka gets a song during the end credits.
And what is with the orgasmic expression whenever she is within two feet of Don?
Boman Irani is a fine actor but inadequately used in a poorly etched role as Vardhan. He plays third fiddle and looks pissed all the time. Boy, he does a fine job of looking pissed.
The shape of Lara Dutta’s tits that are vividly visible to the prying Indian male eyes in her introduction scene/song, is her finest contribution to Don 2.
Om Puri looks too old, jaded and potbellied to be a top Interpol officer. It takes him quite an effort to bring the gun up. No pun intended 😉
Not much to say about the rest of the cast… but hey did I just see Hrithik Roshan 😉
Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy are not in their form with Don 2.
While the BGM remains true to Don 1, there is hardly anything new.
Don 2 has a couple of songs and they were so ‘fantastic’ that I hardly remember them. Don 1 has some really nice songs and in comparison Don 2’s music is very passé.
If “Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi Na-mumkin hai” and “Don doston ka haal puche ya na puche, dushmanon ki khabar zaroor rakhta hai” makes you go weak on the knees then go and watch Don 2.
If a half-baked caper with good action and visually richness is ok for you then you’ll like Don 2.
If you look for depth, logic and performances then you’ll be disappointed.
Overall, just time pass.
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!! Happy New Year!!!
Don 2 Box Office – Less than MNIK