Indian films are as if strait jacketed into a mould whereby Box-office returns are the single most crucial factor determining creative decisions. Any wonder then, that tried and tested films are being squeezed of every drop of latent potential, re-hashed and presented afresh in the pious hope of achieving another block buster credited in a film makers repertoire. The predominant cult of ‘lifting’ foreign films, after having reached saturation, apart from the uncertainty of guaranteeing success , led to this ‘creative’ route of now re-mixing films! (Sigh)
‘Don’ a remake of the 1975 magnum opus, starring the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, in the title role, was targetted by Farhan Akhtar and Shahrukh Khan, essaying a recreation of its magic..this time with their creative inputs.
Shahrukh Khan has given some stellar performances in films like “DDLJ”, “KKKG’, ‘Pardes’ etc..but he aint no Mr. Bachchan. This is not in reaction to the viewing of the film, but a conclusion that most Indians had recorded, at the back of their minds, just as one would perhaps plainly state that Mahesh Bhatt aint no Guru Dutt. Its blasphemous to attempt ‘getting -on-par’. It ends up further highlighting the truism ten fold. Sadly, with ‘Don’, it has been proven beyond doubt that Shahrukh is limited in scope and matching histrionics with the Big B was a Big Blunder.
In all fairness to a film makers initiative I had desisted from re-viewing the earlier ‘Don’, so as not to make contiguous comparisons which would hamper an ‘open-mind’ viewing. Notwithstanding, the film did not proceed to indulge us in a fare which spelt entertainment.
The emotion which pervaded all through, was one of a dark, desultory, sense of doom. Lack of colours in the background, foreground or characterisation translated into ‘boredom’ . It was not as if there was lack of female presence, a la ‘Zinda’ (the Sanjay Dutt starrer which kept one hooked) yet the sizzle was as limp as a damp cracker. Perhaps, the film-maker was too intent on making a technical impact with slick execution of some scenes, too pre-occupied with the desire to make a statement on personal ‘craft’ which perhaps led to a painstaking endeavour in film making. He experienced little or no fun whilst making it, and the audience felt none,watching it.
A more than justified use of close-ups, shot with unimaginative backdrops, resulted in a paucity of expansiveness of scenic location, or a visionary treat. A 40 crore film shot without wide angle lens is almost sinful. Not any indication of the lavishness of a ‘Dons den’ or a mind boggling ‘inner world’ view of the life of a ganglord. It was reduced to almost a small budget film, because of inept usage of camera angles. The action sequences, attributed to an action Director, were almost a stand out, technically.. as were the car racing shots.
The film failed largely in the domain of audience participation. One felt no fear, either of “Don” or his enemies. .Chunkey Pandey and Bomman Irani!! How can they ever evoke a sense of petrified nail biting , knot in the stomach anxiety, so imperative in creating the balance of Hero and Villain! A protagonist is always as big as his Contender. In this case it turned out to be a damp squib. Neither created the impact paramount for a spine chilling climax. The conflict was uncharted, therefore the core issue listless.
Music was disappointing. The two songs which stayed in ones memory were the original ‘Khaike paan’ and ‘Yeh mera dil pyar ka deewana’ Both seemed so obtrusive in their placement. It was as if a few sleepless nights had been spent in conjuring up a situation for their inclusion. especially ‘Khaike paan Banaraswala’ which was believe-it-or-no , located in the by lanes of Malaysia, replete with ‘Bhaiyyas and bhang’ in an effort to replicate the original and corroborate the lyrics..Net result, ‘yawn..didnt work!
Farhan Akhtars second flop after ‘Laqshya’..in other words one hit ‘Dil chaahta hai'( which incidentally fared badly in all sectors except Mumbai)which was path breaking. It appears as if he is out of his league presently. This is what happens when one wants to make a ‘hit’ and not a ‘film’.
The reason why leniency cannot be shown for filmamakers of the kind of Farhan, Yashraj, Karan Johar and the likes is because they are at the apex of the Industry pyramid. They rule the roost and have at ther diposal the best..stars, technicians, writers, locales, facilities, paraphernalia. If despite these givens, they are unable to deliver, then its nothing short of an abysmal failure on their part. Makers like Scorsese, Spielberg, Tarantino, unfailingly churn up mind boggling films. They know their responsibility and never rest on their laurels. One is assured of a good watch with their tag line. Here, success if anything results in a bloated ego and self congratulatory, ‘I know best’ demeanour. Not surprising then that consistency is as alien a concept to directors as integrity is for politicians!
Shahrukh Khan if anything deserves credit for trying his darnedest! Its not his fault if the film failed to pack a punch! An actor follows a script and direction. Kareena did what she does best..seduce. Isha Koppikar and the other femme fatales were totally wasted. Priyanka chopra’s introductory scene with tai chi was effective, as was the rest of her performance. The show stealer was Bomman Irani. To be multi facteted to the degree where one can whip up a magnificent comic caper and then assay the role of a vily villain with fascimile ease deserves commendation. Truly superb!
Farhan Akhtar has been unsuccessful in making a product with a stupendous budget, a superstar at his beck and call. Did he have just one story to tell..Dil Chahta hai??
Shahrukh Khan should have remained content in being ‘Badshah’. He was loved, adulated, revered…Dignity commanded him to accept there is only one Don..Amitabh Bachchan.