Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Don 2

don 2Don 2 (2011) has a built-in problem. In writer/director Farhan Akhtar's Don: The Chase Begins Again (2006), the remake-with-a-twist of the original Don (1978), good-hearted street performer Vijay (Shah Rukh Khan) is coerced into impersonating the criminal mastermind Don (also Shah Rukh Khan). It's a clever story (devised for Amitabh Bachchan in the original film by Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, father of Farhan) that allows us to have it both ways: we can vicariously revel in the transgressive criminal actions of Don, while at the same time rooting for the good guy Vijay. It's not only the audience that experiences some cognitive dissonance: the beautiful Roma (Priyanka Chopra), who wants to kill Don in revenge for her brother Ramesh's death, finds herself instead falling in love with Vijay-Don.

There's no way for me to discuss this without a spoiler, so be forewarned, but at the end of Don: TCBA

—spoiler alert!—

we discover that Vijay was murdered by Don before he could take his place. So throughout the second half of the film, we think we're rooting for Vijay, but in the final shots of the film we discover that all along we've been pulling for Don, who was impersonating Vijay impersonating Don. With Vijay dead,

—end of spoiler—

Don 2 leaves us only with Don himself, which is the problem. Don is a pretty nasty customer—Shah Rukh's fabled charm is not much in evidence. The only thing that gives us any interest in the outcome of Don's elaborate heist at the Deutsche Zentralbank is that every other criminal in the film is even nastier. Along with a sympathetic main character, gone are the clever Infernal Affairs-like plot twists from Don: TCBA. Instead, Farhan Akhtar gives us an efficient recounting of the planning and execution of the theft. It's almost disappointingly straightforward. It also leaves very little room for songs, unlike Don: TCBA, whose remixed/remodelled soundtrack borrowed liberally from the 1978 film.

It was nice to see the underused Kunal Kapoor as Sameer, a reformed hacker who agrees to one last job for his wife and unborn son. But that's about it for subplots. The unfinished business between Don and Roma (who apparently still has residual feelings for Don despite Ramesh, who is barely alluded to) and between Don and criminal rival Vardaan (Boman Irani, who is given very little to do other than glower), isn't allowed to distract from the car chases, gun battles, explosions, and other standard action-movie sequences. But despite the high-tech slickness of the filmmaking, the object of the heist—currency printing plates—seems almost quaint. And (mild spoiler alert) the way Don eludes arrest at the end is simply lame.

Of course, the filmmakers have to leave their options open for another sequel. I found Don 2 to be an entertaining enough watch on a summer evening, but perhaps the point of diminishing returns has been reached for this franchise.

2 comments:

  1. I feel your "meh." I'll be watching this for my 100 Crore Club series but I'm not particularly looking forward to it.

    They made a big mistake in going with a sequel - down South, they're doing Billa 2 as a prequel, which seems like the smarter choice if you want to explore "Don," you know? Much for scope for imagination (as Anne of Green Gables would say) in how the bad guy became bad than in just watching the bad guy do bad things with no hero in sight.

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  2. Filmi Girl, I think your prequel idea is brilliant. It would have given us a chance, at least, to root for an underdog and see how he became the hardened bad guy. I hope you have Farhan Akhtar's e-mail address!

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