×

Don

The 1978 Hindi crimer that proved such a good vehicle for thesp Amitabh Bachchan proves a trickier platform for his modern equivalent, Shah Rukh Khan, in this big-budget remake. Script never builds up a dramatic head of steam befitting its ambition.

With:
With: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, Isha Koppikar, Boman Irani, Om Puri, Pavan Malhotra, Rajesh Khattar, Tanay Chheda, Kareena Kapoor, Sidharth Jyoti, Diwakar Pundir. (Hindi dialogue)

The 1978 Hindi crimer that proved such a good vehicle for thesp Amitabh Bachchan proves a trickier platform for his modern equivalent, Shah Rukh Khan, in this big-budget remake. Cleverly plotted yarn about a street musician who’s asked to impersonate a dead crime lord has plenty of twists and turns, but Khan is more believable as the doofus than the don, and script never builds up a dramatic head of steam befitting its ambition. Heavily promoted blockbuster did good biz on October release in India and offshore, and is OK popcorn fare, but could have been much better.

Helmer Farhan Akhtar (“Dil chahta hai”) is the son of noted writer Javed Akhtar, who co-scripted the original and also contribs song lyrics to this new version. Remake stays pretty close to its predecessor’s plot, although most of the action has been transferred to Malaysia with a Paris-set prologue also stitched in.

Khan’s gift has always been in romantic comedy, and it’s hard to accept him as the title character, a ruthless business manager for Indian crime lord Singhania (Rajesh Khattar), who himself rose to the top by murdering his Russian boss, Boris. When Singhania took over Boris’ drug empire, Boris’ favored deputy, Vardhaan, disappeared. In an important plot point, no photos of Vardhaan are known to exist.

Don has a rep for never being caught and getting rid of anyone who’s a threat. After bumping off a colleague, Ramesh (Diwakar Pundir), who wants to get out, and then Ramesh’s fiancee (Kareena Kapoor, in a star cameo), he takes the beauteous Roma (Priyanka Chopra) into his org, though he has suspicions about her motives. Roma is actually Ramesh’s sister, and looking for revenge.

Main plotline, however, concerns Don and a middle-aged cop, De Silva (Boman Irani), who’s out to get him. After a well-staged chase in India, De Silva finally gets his man — but doesn’t turn him in. Instead, he keeps him on ice in a hospital and persuades a look-alike musician, easygoing Vijay (also Khan), to take Don’s place so he can bring down Singhania.

Khan is far more convincing as Vijay, playing up to his rom-com fanbase with plenty of boyish humor and having a ball in a musical number celebrating “The Don Is Back!” Meanwhile, picintros another main character at the hour mark: IT specialist Jasjit (Arjun Rampal), who blames De Silva for his wife’s death and happens to be the father of a street orphan Vijay took care of years ago.

With more than enough plot elements already on the table, pic pulls a surprise revelation just before the intermission and then proceeds to mix things up in part two, as Vijay is left to prove his real identity when De Silva is killed in a shootout. Final twist at the end handily sets up a possible sequel.

It’s Irani’s cop who really holds the screen and propels the drama, even when the pace sags under Akhtar’s stop-start direction. For such a star-based vehicle, Khan never gets under the skin of either of his characters, and Chopra is largely decorative.

Pic makes great use of its Langkawi locations but fumbles its use of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers (seen to much better effect in Sean Connery starrer “Entrapment”). Five musical numbers are pleasant but unmemorable, like the pic as a whole.

For the record, the original “Don” was remade at the time in three other Indian-dialect versions (Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam), making the current Hindi one the tale’s fifth outing.

Popular on Variety

Don

India

Production: A UTV Motion Pictures release of an Excel Entertainment production. Produced by Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar. Executive producer, Miriam Joseph. Directed, written by Farhan Akhtar, based on an original script by Salim-Javed.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Mohanan; editors, Anand Sugaya, Neil Sadwelkar; music, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; lyrics, Javed Akhtar; production designer, Aradhana Seth; art directors, Manish Binani, Shruti Gupte (India), T.P. Abid (Malaysia); costume designer, Aki Nirula. Reviewed on videodisc, London, Dec. 28, 2006. (Also in Berlin Film Festival.) Running time: 168 MIN. (I: 88 MIN.; II: 80 MIN.)

With: With: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, Isha Koppikar, Boman Irani, Om Puri, Pavan Malhotra, Rajesh Khattar, Tanay Chheda, Kareena Kapoor, Sidharth Jyoti, Diwakar Pundir. (Hindi dialogue)

More Film

  • Rugrats. Nickeoldeon Animation Studios

    Film News Roundup: 'Rugrats' Writer David N. Weiss Honored by Animation Writers

    In today’s film news roundup, David N. Weiss is honored, Rin Tin Tin is getting a modern movie and “The Shasta Triangle” finds a home. WEISS HONORED David N. Weiss will receive the animation writing award from the Animation Writers Caucus of the Writers Guild of America West. The award will be presented by Weiss’ [...]

  • Marrakech Chief on Selecting Arthouse Films

    Marrakech Chief on Selecting Arthouse Films With a Big Stress on the Word 'Art'

    The 18th edition of the Marrakech Film Festival (Nov. 29-Dec. 7) – one of the leading cultural events in the Africa and Middle East region – will screen 98 films from 34 countries. The fest is also reinforcing its industry presence this year through the second edition of the Atlas Workshops, sponsored by Netflix, which [...]

  • Emma Stone Brad Pitt Damien Chazelle

    Paramount Lands Damien Chazelle's 'Babylon,' Dates It for Christmas 2021

    Paramount Pictures has landed the worldwide rights to Damien Chazelle’s next feature film “Babylon,” sources tell Variety. Insiders add the studio has dated the film for a Dec. 25, 2021 limited release, with plans to go wide on Jan. 7. The release date puts in prime position for another awards season run for Chazelle, who [...]

  • Chris Pratt

    Chris Pratt's Sci-Fi Film 'The Tomorrow War' Gets Release Date

    Chris Pratt’s upcoming sci-fi actioner, which was recently retitled “The Tomorrow War,” has set a Christmas Day 2020 release date. The Paramount film was formerly titled “Ghost Draft.” It follows a man (played by Pratt) who is drafted to fight a future war in which the fate of humanity may rely on his ability to [...]

  • Kim Dong-Ho of GIFF Chairman of

    Inaugural Gangneung Film Festival Pays Tribute to Pierre Rissient

    The opening ceremony of the first edition of the Gangneung International Film Festival was dominated by a tribute to the French film scout and festival selector Pierre Rissient, who died in May 2018. The new festival, 240 km from Seoul, counts former Busan festival co-founder Kim Dong-ho as its chairman and former Bucheon festival head [...]

  • 'Waves': Sterling K. Brown and Trey

    'Waves' Cast Reflects on the Making of the Tragic Family Drama

    “Waves,” a partially autobiographical film written and directed by Trey Edward Shults, is a visually arresting look at the fraying of an upper-middle class black family in South Florida in the aftermath of a violent tragedy. It examines themes of grief, domestic violence, substance abuse and modern-day pressures on kids to succeed. “Propelled by color, [...]

  • Gaston Pavlovich

    Gaston Pavlovich Talks About Producing 'The Irishman'

    Through his production company Fabrica De Cine, Gastón Pavlovich is one of the producers on Martin Scorsese’s two most recent movies: 2016’s “Silence” and 2019’s “The Irishman.” The 51-year-old native of Mexico first gained notice as an executive producer on the Tom Hanks comedy-drama “A Hologram for the King.” Pavlovich also began working with Scorsese [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content