Review: SRK makes Don 2 work

Dec 23, 2011


Film: Don 2
Director: Farhan Akhtar
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani
Rating: ****
Ever since Farhan Akhtar gave us the delectable Dil Chahta Hai (smartly written, well acted, a trendsetter of sorts), he has failed to better, or even get close to, his debut effort. His production company may have churned out some pretty memorable films since (Honeymoon Travels, Rock On, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara), but his own directorial ventures have been mediocre. Lakshya suffered from a Dil Chahta Hai-wannabe first half fused with a JP Dutta-styled second. Don, the remake of Chandra Barot’s highly enjoyable 1978 caper, with its harebrained finale, was a complete letdown.

Unsatisfying as Akhtar’s Don was, the sequel promos have been promising. And with Akhtar and Co free of the baggage of recreating the original Don, they could take things in a new direction. Which they do. Except, others have trodden this path already.

Like Danny Ocean. And John McClane. In Don 2, Akhtar manages to blend elements from various H’wood films, mostly Ocean’s Eleven and Die Hard, with a bit of Mission Impossible thrown in. This is our answer to Hollywood - a rehash of what they’ve done already. No points for originality.

No points for writing either. If Akhtar’s film lulls you to sleep initially, in spite of some slick editing, it’s because the writing (Akhtar, Ameet Mehta, Amrish Shah) falters. Characters say boring, random things to each other, there’s a pointlessly long dance sequence (Hrithik Roshan, looking dapper in an unintentionally hilarious cameo), and the attempt at dialoguebaazi is laughable (“Jab tak Don ko asliyat ka pata chalega, tab tak Don mar chuka hoga”).

The situations are alarmingly unimaginative. Sample this: Don-ny Ocean (SRK) plans to get out of a high security prison by mixing the food given to prisoners with a liquid that results in mass food poisoning. Johar Mehmood In Hong Kong had a similar sequence where prisoners in a jail are given julab (laxative) on the sly, helping them flee. That was a farcical comedy. Here, it seems like a cop-out.

What keeps Don 2 alive, then, is its pulsating action. It helps the pace quicken as the film progresses, including a thrilling chase sequence and a wonderfully choreographed-and-shot pre-climax sequence. Cinematographer Jason West (Rock On) and stunt director Matthias Barsch enthuse life into proceedings, ensuring that action junkies get their fill.

The film, however, is nothing more than an attempt to cash in; to set opening weekend records. And to provide a vehicle for its lead star to dazzle (so much so, every other actor seems inconsequential). Thankfully, Shah Rukh Khan is in form. The body language is cocky, the attitude flamboyant, and the smirk consistent. In a full-fledged action role, Khan goes the whole hog, pulling off the stunts with panache. Only for him, Don 2 is pretty enjoyable.

Sadly, with a director who showed much promise with his first film, Don 2 should have been more than just another big-ticket Friday film that rests solely on the shoulders of its lead actor. Anees Bazmee has one of those coming out every few months. Akhtar seems to have found his own money-churning superstar. The filmmaker’s voice, then, has been muted.

Watch Don 2 for some kick-ass action. And Shah Rukh Khan.