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<i>Don</i> 2 - an interesting experience

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By: Joginder Tuteja, IndiaFM
Monday, November 13, 2006
It has been more than a fortnight since Don has released and by now it is crystal clear that the film is a success. How BIG is the success actually would be ascertained in another fortnight or so but the fact remains that King Khan has struck again....and in style - pun intended! This success is sweeter than many other blockbuster hits this year for multiple reasons:

a) Comparisons with Amitabh Bachchan's Don were inevitable b) Detractors of Shahrukh Khan were hell bent on calling KANK as a failure, at least amongst the audience if not the box office performance wise, and for them one wrong move [read Don] by Khan was a reason to hit the final nail in the coffin. c) It was a twin edged sword to remake Don. Make it exactly the way it is and daggers would have been out to actually question the very essence of remaking the film. Alternatively do something different and there were fears of brickbats that would be thrown to question the reasons behind changes to a classic.

But as we can say now, "Don ki kabr khodna mushkil hi nahi, namumkin hai"!

This is because Farhan Akhtar indeed succeeded when it came to point c) which made the other two just follow suit. Apart from SRK's act, if there is something that deserves fill marks, it indeed has to be Farhan's writing, especially in the second half. This is where the entire fun lies and you realize it more when you watch the film second time.

Yes, you read it right - the second time!

Because once you know the film's plot and the double bill of twists that come [first in the interval and then the climax], you know what Farhan was up to. He drove the audience to a point where they felt 'so what!' and then suddenly came up with a master-move that left the audience [well, most of it] truly and positively stunned!

WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for those who haven't watched Don still!

Ok, so first half of the film was going good, in fact quite entertaining. Yes, we know that this is about Don and ACP DeSilva. We realize that the film is high-tech, what with cool gadgets, golf courses, derbies, fast cars and the likes. We are given some pleasant moments with new sequences such as those featuring Chunkey Pandey! We also like the fact that the film takes a different terrain altogether with a plot revolving around fallout of International gang lords and stuff alike. Yes, it is 'masala fare' with a contemporary dose and it is fun as guided by the narrative.

The intermission point brings on a twist with DeSiva turning out to be Vardhan, a drug lord who wanted to rebuild the empire. Hmmm, fine, fair enough. The twist is good and is rather stylishly treated [reminding one of Rajiv Rai and Sanjay Gupta films] but then it was not 100% unexpected. There was always a 25% chance of something like that happening, especially with an expectation of at least one twist in the tale by Farhan Akhtar.

So what next? This is what makes one wonder with the mystery behind the plot out. With Farhan's version of Don meeting the point where Chandra Barot's Don ended, one looks forward to what next is in the storyline. It does seem to wonder that Farhan has actually made the sequel to the original in his remake version and one is reasonably entertained till the film's end approaches.

And here comes the mother of all twists. Something which was completely unexpected. Something that was not seen in any Hindi movie as far as one can remember. Something that made one start looking at Don in a different manner altogether.

And why not? After all Don turned out to be a man who is the biggest double crosser of all. A man who fooled the world (and the audience) that he was Vijay when he had actually committed his look-alike's murder in the very same hospital where he was recuperating. Don is Don throughout Don and not a single soul barring love of his life, Anita [Isha Kopikar], was aware about that! One of the biggest 'double-cross' games ever was being played right in front of everyone's eyes and they all were taken on a ride.

The man behind the game - Don. Don, jise 11 mulkon ki police pakadne ki koshish kar rahi hai this par kisi ko samajh nahi aaya ki usse pakadna mushkil hi nahi namumkin hai!

This is what makes one revisit the film a second time. What was Don thinking when he entered his den once again as Vijay posing as though he had lost his memory? What was going on his mind when he encountered Priyanka? What were his reactions when he realized that DeSilva is actually the man who is his biggest competitor on earth - Vardhan?

One can't help but appreciate Farhan's mastery as a writer and executor on watching the scenes re-fold in front of you. Best written scene is the one where Don is actually made to realize by Jasjit [Arjun Rampal] that he has been set up by DeSilva. While everyone around him, including audience, sympathizes with Vijay, the sinister mind of Don is actually wondering that how could it have happened to him - the biggest evil of all! 'Nahi Aisa Nahi Ho Sakta', he says when facing the hard truth. He is someone who is least concerned about being sent to his own den; he is worried more about the fact that his empire is in danger.

A couple of normal looking scenes start sounding a lot more meaningful (and powerful) when seen wearing Don's hat. Remember the scene when Don is sent as Vijay to his gang. While the entire gang tries to revive his memory, he feigns ignorance to everything around him and lies down on a bed. Enter Anita who quietly hands him over a glass of water. A simple eye to eye contact followed by grasp of a hand sans any conversation means a lot. Don is tired after a long battle, wants to take some rest and just needs the support of his lady love! And to think of it, in first viewing it seems like a scene that could have been easily chopped since it hardly made any difference to 'Vijay's life'! Anita's support is visible again in the pre-climax when she says, "Darling, Aaj Vijay Ki Zindagi Ka Aakhri Din Hoga! " And we as audience were half-fooled to believe that she may actually be conversing with Narang [Pawan Malhotra] when the fact was far from true!

There is another subtle scene that may have gone unnoticed by a few even on second viewing. Picture this: Don enters the school where Deepu [Arjun Rampal's kid] studies and just stands at the entrance to have Deepu rush to him. While from Vijay's angle it seemed to be a pensive moment, if one looks at it from Don's point of view, it is quite expected since how else could he have actually reached out to Deepu when he hadn't seen him in his life? Deepu runs to hug him and after a momentary hesitation Don realizes that he is the boy. Were varied expressions on SRK's face always there? Yes, but they became visible and much more apparent only when seen the second time around. A poignant moment comes when Deepu tells him that he has changed. Don has nothing more to answer than say, "Haan, tumhaare Vijay chacha sach mein badal gaye hain". Now could it be more suggestive and direct than this?

His scenes with Priyanka too are not devoid of clear messaging of his true identity. When Roma tries to kill him in rail yard, the two have an engaging fight. Don tries to explain that he is not what she actually thinks [fair enough, we knew he is stating himself as Vijay], but when push comes to shove, he gets her down and in a moment of rage mouths "Ab main tumhe batata hoon main kaun hoon". Just when you thought he would repeat that he is Vijay, DeSilva enters and does the necessary. So far so good. The only difference here is that if DeSilva wouldn't have come in, Roma would have been history. Why? Because Don would have told her that he is indeed Don and killed her right away! Was that apparent in the first viewing? Naah!

All in all, it makes for a thrilling impact when one watches the film a second time viewer. This is when you wear a different hat altogether, that of a Don instead of Vijay, you know the entire plot and above all you see the characters behaving in a different perspective altogether.

Let the detractors of 'Don' be damned, the fact is that the KING IS BACK. And to think of it, this too is mouthed by SRK when after getting back his memory, he announces to his gang while sinking in a sofa along with Anita - I AM BACK!!

Effects of a second time viewing....huh!

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