Film Review: Don 2

Directed by: Farhan Akhtar

Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Om Puri, Boman Irani and Lara Dutta

All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

Don 2 - not a D grade flick by any means...

Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nayi, namunkin hai!” [It is not difficult to catch Don, it is impossible!] No doubt the script writer was referring to my efforts to  catch Don 2 near its release date  – which may sound like no biggie in the scheme of things but for the Bollywood blogger, was awful. Not only had everyone passed their opinion on the film but had helpfully spoiled the cameos and surprises too. Still, when I finally got to see Don 2, it was in an empty 300 seater cinema so to be fair, the universe did help in the end (though this is now how I want to watch every film – undisturbed and in comfort!)

Having recently viewed Don again, I was familiar with the back story and ready to evaluate Don 2 as a sequel as well as a standalone film and it was here I came to a crossroad. When viewed as a sequel or continuation of the first, I felt Don 2 worked better – Don was more ruthless this time whilst killing without mercy, using others for his own gain and as always, never forgetting an enemy. But I did have concerns over the storyline – the script seemed to switch gears clumsily so that we have a heist movie at the forefront, relegating Don’s complex relationship with Roma to the background as well as the battle against the European drug cartel. Furthermore, the Don-Roma storyline is the most interesting strand and could have done with far more screen time and exploration.

Thank god for the haircut...

But it seemed to me the film was more geared towards being a standalone film, hence the focus on the big heist and the big set pieces (such as the Berlin car chase) paying lip service to sequel duty and a bigger amount to the spectacle at hand, which is not a bad thing but when the existing premise had so much to offer/explore, Don 2 does falter slightly at times when it switches to standalone mode. Still, despite these few concerns,  Don 2 is a great deal of fun, glossily packaged, well edited and determined to entertain which is perhaps its greatest strength.

See? The chemistry is right there...

Performance wise, though there are no weak links, I felt indifferent to Lara Dutta and Kunal Kapoor who do everything asked of them. I liked Boman Irani as Vardhan, who really made Vardhan more than a stereotype villain whilst Om Puri also gave a good account of himself in a limited role. Priyanka Chopra is good, though she only really shines when she is with SRK which made me feel she had been let down by the script. But, as expected and rightly so, Don 2 belongs to Shah Rukh Khan who clearly relishes reprising the role and has a lot more fun this time, especially in indulging the cruel side to the character which for me, makes Don more interesting than your average shades of grey villain.

Don 2 reminded me of Quantum of Solace in that there was great expectation around it, the film did exceptionally well at the box office yet it didn’t meet universal critical acclaim and worked more as a  part of Casino Royale than as a standalone film. Yet Don 2 does manage to retain some of the spirit of the first film and is unabashed in its desire to entertain and is in sharp contrast to the more rustic and rural action films we’ve had in Hindi cinema lately, presenting an urban take on masala action and showing that there is no doubt that Hindi cinema possesses the range to satisfy fans of both persuasions.

More Don-Roma next time please...

Don 2 is certainly worth a watch and at the end of the day, the ambition behind the project is to be applauded.  Though there are no immediate plans for a  Don 3, I think it can be done successfully, especially if it was to feature Aamir Khan as the man who catches Don – now that would be quite something…

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