"Don Ko Pakadna Mushqil Hi Nahin, Namumkin Bhi Hai". (it's not just difficult to catch DON, it's impossible).
You could say that again! Farhan Akhtar who once upon a time made one of Indian cinema's prevalent path breakers DIL CHAHTA HAI, slips into a gamine groove to recreate Salim-Javed's script from the original 1978 film of the same name.
Let's not play the blame game. But whoever thought a slicker version? no, make that a much much slicker version of the clever wheels-within-wheels 1978 script would work better when packaged in gallons of gloss, has gall? and a vision that just stops short of being audacious.
This is a cheeky and chic homage to the earlier DON. It goes into places that the earlier film couldn't have dreamt of.
Farhan Akhtar's feisty feast of muted fury film opens in Paris (totally unnecessary) and quickly moves to Kuala Lampur where the narrative stays put as Farhan Akhtar tries to put across the story of DON, his doppelganger Vijay, the vendetta-oriented Roma (Priyanka Chopra) and Jasjeet (Arjun Rampal). Roma fumes as though she had taken lessons in femine fury from Zeenat Aman in the earlier DON. Rampal frets and limps (in tandem) as though he had watched Pran in the original DON hard enough to know, if you can't beat 'em, zonk em. And Shah Rukh is the twin-faced imp/ogre? He snarls, sneers, jeers and taunts the whole cult of superstardom by taking the role as away from Bachchan's star-turn as humanly possible.
It isn't a performance. It's a bouquet of over-the-top expressions designed to showcase the star's ability to get the better of his character, rather than let the character get better than what it was when it was last seen almost 30 years ago. But we're straying? a crime that this film never commits. The narrative is so ram-rod straight and razor-sharp you wonder which came first: the remake or the remix. Or are they the one and the same?
The confusion of identity goes well with the delicious ambiguity that is given a psychological twist in this re-interpreted tale of the good, the bad and the agli kadi in the karmic cycle of remakes that seems to have overtaken our cinema.