Saturday, November 19, 2011

Don (2006): SRK is a badfanny, Piggy Chops is sizzling, Farhan Akhtar is a genius; Don 2 will be epic

Oh, hey. What, I actually have a blog here? I’m afraid I nearly forget sometimes. Not for wanting to, but for the insanity of life (getting a job [and a good one at that!], trying to graduate, working 40+ hours a week at the newspaper, competing in National Novel Writing Month and so much more) and the necessity of writing for the other blog weekly. Good news is, though, that the other blog is doing amazingly well (blogging about Aishwarya Rai is apparently the way to have a post that’s more-read than the entire, very popular, sports section of the website).

BUT ANYWAY, I’ve had this written in pieces for at least a month. I’ve just haven’t gotten around to the rest of posting it. Haha. But better late than never, right? Here we go!

On goes the SRK saga, though this one predates my quest to watch through his films. Several folks on Twitter assured me that Don was one of the SRK films that I simply had to see. Papaya and I watched it with one of our brothers who is now anxious — as we all are — for the release of Don 2 at Christmastime.

I really enjoyed Don. It’s slick and cool as an action film — I’ve called it one giant excuse for SRK to walk around being a badfanny for two hours — while holding a smart and intellectually gripping plot at the same time.
Genre films and particularly action-genre films are always interesting because they come with a predefined set of tropes to work with to please an audience’s expectations, but a really good film knows how to work those for its advantage. (Forgive me for the theoretical framework here; I’m locked into a semester of studying genre films where things like this come up often.) Don understands what’s expected of it as an action film and mostly does it. There’s sexy foreign locales (starting an ironic contrast of Paris’s underbelly and then onto Malaysia, where of course everyone speaks Hindi), hot women (though see note about Bebo), flashy cars (though see caveat below), spectacular stunts (fight midair over a parachute, anyone?) and things that explode against logic (like when a car runs into a bus). All of that plus the songs that make it Bollywood (see: the silly Khaike Paan Banaraswala song that's hilarious but pretty much has nothing to do with anything).

However, during the film’s first car chase scene, Don has a very white-collar car. I can’t quite figure out what it is even though I thought it was a Hyundai at first glance. I can’t really seem to get a good full-on glimpse of it and I’m not as good at identifying foreign cars as American ones (if anyone can identify the car, I'd be much obliged). But anyway, his is one of those spots where you may have wanted to take a page from James Bond’s book and get a truly sexy car. However, Don does have a slick little convertible Benz for the second car chase. I don’t understand why this was something they added the second time around instead of the first — there’s a scene in a car dealership, so I know the filmmakers understand action films need sexy cars!

And of course as an action film, you need a very badfanny hero or, in Don’s case, an antihero. This goes back to what I meant as “one giant excuse for SRK to walk around being a badfanny” — he's so rich he can wear two shirts at one time and even when wealth and power means sitting in a Jacuzzi watching Looney Tunes, the film goes to great length to show Don’s ease, wealth and power. And unlike Ra.One, it totally, totally works.

A toast, my dear, to my ability to wear two shirts simultaneously cuz I'm that awesome.

I know the reaction of Indian audiences is often to cheer when the hero (or, again, antihero) appears onscreen for the first time. When I was in a theater full of desis for the premiere of Ready, I admit, I joined in the applause for Salman’s entrance. That’s the only time that I’ve actually experienced that in a theater (although sometimes watching movies on campus at my university gets a similarly reactionary audience, which I love). Don is one of the few times I’ve wanted to react to an actor’s appearance on-screen.

While on the subject of actors, let’s move on to the women of the film because sexy women are an important part of an action film too.

Kareena Kapoor’s appearance in Don is OK, EXCEPT her dance that was maybe supposed to be an item song? It’s now become infamous with me as the “spazzy-chicken-in-a-gold-dress dance” because that is the least-sexy sexy dance I’ve ever seen. It’s…ridiculous! Words can’t describe it better than the name I’ve given the number: Kareena looks like a spazzy golden chicken.

But anyway, two other sexy ladies do much better but are sort of at odds throughout the film. And given Priyanka Chopra as a butt-kicking partial antagonist with-some-attraction-to-Don Roma versus Ishaa Koppikar as Don’s arm-candy girlfriend Anita, it’s hard to like Anita. While I wouldn’t say that I dislike Ishaa Koppikar, she’s not on-screen nearly as much and she has a hard time matching Priyanka. And this song with them dancing side by side proves my point. Priyanka knows how to work her hair and her angles so much better in addition to the fact that her character is the one with the edge.

But the great thing about Don is that Farhan Akhtar — genius that he is — doesn’t just rely on the visuals and sex appeal of the characters. The plot layering is a work of genius.

Not having seen the original Amitabh Bachchan Don, I don’t know what’s expected in terms of plot (as in if the twists come from the original or not). I assume, however, that the film’s plot twists — which I’m not going to spoil for anyone though I’m sure if you’re reading this you’ve seen Don — are meant to knock you out of your seat and screw with your concept of the film. When watching it, I realized that the film wasn’t just an excuse for SRK to be a badfanny; it’s also an excuse for Farhan Akhtar to COMPLETELY SCREW WITH YOUR MIND. My siblings and I figured out the plot twists before they happened because I’m a writer and they’re huge readers and plot twists are more predictable than you’d think, but we could still appreciate the superb layering of twists.

And on top of all of that, Don 2’s trailers make it seem even slicker. I can’t help but get more and more excited for it. So, for your enjoyment… Don 2 trailer!


  1. I'm so excited for Don 2! Don is one of my favorite Indian action films, I just love the slickness and style of it. This is so much more me than those Dabangg's.

  2. I completely agree about the spazzy chicken dance: it's unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. Is it Kareena's fault though? Ok, her thighs were a bit big in those days, before she started working out round the clock to develop the athletic body she now has. But wasn't it mostly the choreographer's fault? And wasn't it the choreographer who made Priyanka look so much better than Ishaa in that other clip you posted? Oh, and whoever chose those dresses. I don't know how much is down to the dancers at the end of the day, and how much is choreography.But you're dead right that Priyanka knows how to 'work her hair and her angles'. Every move she makes creates a satisfying shape or pattern. As a total non-dancer I'm fascinated by dance and totally in awe of people like her.

  3. Mette: Still haven't seen Dabangg (can't find it!), so I can't judge there, but Don 2 is really a great Indian action film.

    Joss: Not saying it was Kareena's fault or even that she had big thighs. Although I will say just the way she does the moves doesn't help. Honestly I've seen her dance in other movies and thought girl, you need to calm down and smooth out your dancing -- too spazzy!