Happy Shahrukh Week!!! 2 Days Left for Fan! To Kill the Time, Let’s Talk about Don!

I can always talk about Don!  Always always always!  It’s just such a brilliant movie in so many ways.  Shahrukh’s performance, of course, but also the script, and how it uses our knowledge of the original to support its underlying trickery.  Oh, and if you haven’t seen Shahrukh’s Don yet, DO NOT READ ON!!!!!  Just watch the movie instead.  Normally I don’t care about Spoilers, but oh my gosh, if you go into Don unspoiled, it is so awesome!

Okay, now I am going to spoil SRK’s Don.  And also Amitabh’s original Don.  You ready?  Here it comes…

In the original, street performer Vijay is set up by the honest cop D’Souza to take the place of his lookalike, master criminal Don.  But, then the real Don dies, and D’Souza is out of action (can’t remember if he dies or not), and the cops are after Vijay thinking he is Don while his gang is after him thinking he is Vijay, and there are two wildcards in the mix, an honest man and an honest woman who’s lives were destroyed by Don and want vengeance.  In the end, everything gets sorted out, the criminals are defeated, and Vijay and the honest woman fall in love, and he becomes best friends and allies with the honest man.

In the Shahrukh remake, everything starts out the same, and the audience thinks we are just watching the same movie over again, but more stylized.  But then!  TWIST!  At the end, we learn that Don had killed Vijay and takes his place, and the whole second half of the film when we think we are watching Vijay-as-Don, it’s actually just Don, pretending to still be Vijay when it is convenient.

What makes this extra good is how all the main plot points seem to be unspooling just as they did in the original.  Vijay is pretending to be Don with the assistance of the noble cop.  But then the noble cop is out of action, the only ones who believe Vijay is really Vijay are Don’s gang, he has to go on the run from the cops who want to arrest Don and the criminals who want to kill Vijay.  And, worse than that, from the noble man who’s life Don has destroyed, who should be Vijay’s greatest ally, but instead is his enemy (hot Arjun).

The only slightly off note to me when I was watching it the first time is how Shahrukh is playing Vijay-as-Don.  He seems to have kind of lost the plot a little, sometimes it’s like he forgets to layer the Vijay under the Don.  There are a few moments in the fight scenes when he gets so excited about being in an action movie, that he fights like a gangster, instead of a street performer struggling to survive.  I tried to explain it with “well, you know, he was a performer before, so now he is just giving a really good performance!”  But it really almost ruined the movie for me, made Vijay much less lovable to see him being so brutal with people.  There were two moments in particular, in the middle of the fight with Priyanka and with Arjun, when he just looked feral and wild all of a sudden.  Come on, Shahrukh!  You should be better than that!  Vijay wouldn’t be feral, he would be sweet and innocent!

 

(00:20 to 00:40 above, such a miss-step!  It’s almost like that’s not sweet Vijay in the fight, it’s Don!)

And then you get to the end, and TWIST, and suddenly it’s jaw-dropping “oh my God, SRK, that was the performance of your career!”  It’s not just that he was Don-as Vijay-as Don, it’s that he changed it depending on the scene.  With Priyanka and Boman Irani, he was Don-as Vijay-as Don.  When he was with others, he was Don-with-a-massive-head-injury.  When he was with his superiors, he was Don-the-humble.  But when he was alone, he was a whole other animal.  Don-the-mastermind, Don-the-little-bit-psycho, Don-the-not-quite-right-in-the-head.  The first time I watched it, when I was still struggling to get my head around the whole thing, I thought the “Khaike Paan Banareswala” song was a huge huge mistake.  Clearly, they just threw it in as nostalgia for when Amitabh did the same song in the original.  But it doesn’t make sense for this character at all, because it’s not Vijay the humble paan addict and song-and-dance man, it’s Don.  Big scary Don who likes the big parties and the pretty women.  It still didn’t work for me on watch 2.  But on watch 3-4-5-6-7-to infinity, I think it is actually one of the best parts of the film.

The thing is, Shahrukh as Don is playing a part, but it is Don pretending to be Don.  If you pay attention to the long boring bit where the police explain the history of the gang war (not saying you should pay attention necessarily, it’s pretty boring), you can see the long game Don has been playing all along.  See, Don is actually pretty low on the crime pyramid, but he also does all the work and makes all the plans while everyone else lives off his efforts.  There’s one moment that tells you everything, when Don-as-Vijay-as-Don has his hair tousled by his gangster boss (played by Shahid Kapoor’s stepfather, by the way).  Don fixes his hair, and watches him walk away with a look of pure hatred.  In the moment, on the first watch, I thought it was Shahrukh over-playing the “honest man disgusted by criminals” card, but on subsequent watches, it is just a quick glimpse of the real Don, the one who has been used and abused by his criminal superiors for years, putting up with the head pats and shoulder punches, and secretly burning with resentment.

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He is pretending, all along, to respect his superiors, to not want anything more for himself, to be a loyal lieutenant, to efface himself and hide his light under a bushel.  Pretending to be Vijay for Priyanka lets him finally, in a way, be himself.  The “Khaike Paan Banaraswala” song is not Don-as-Vijay, it is Don-as-the-Real Don.

 

Which brings me to my hopes for Fan!  I would love if we get that kind of layered performance here.  From a few moments of the trailer, it looks like we may have Shahrukh-as-Fan pretending to be Shahrukh-as-Star at some point.  Which would be great, to see how he plays one pretending to be the other.  But I would also love it if we got the same kind of layers in his performance of the Star character, if we got to see how he is hiding his emotions and pretending to be one person in public, but all the time is someone else on the inside.  Which, actually, is I think how Shahrukh is in real life.  I mean, he’s said that, that with his family and close friends he is actually really different and kind of boring, it’s only when he goes out in the world that he becomes “Shahrukh Khan-STAR!”

19 thoughts on “Happy Shahrukh Week!!! 2 Days Left for Fan! To Kill the Time, Let’s Talk about Don!

  1. Why do I get the impression that Shahrukh Khan enjoys playing negative characters more than the positive ones? There’s a special glee on his face when he’s on screen as a villain.The beginning golf scene deserves special mention for setting the tone of the character.The character stayed true to his roots till the last scene.The climax left me shell-shocked.

    And yes, I thought the same when the boss ruffled his hair.He resented his boss and Narein who was supposed to keep an eye on him for the boss.I really wish Farhan would return to direction.He’s a superb director but an average actor.I found the sequel rather boring with Don being shown as more clever,more skilled,more whatever than everyone in the room.Maybe that’s what he truly thinks, but the first movie was great because he kept his ego hidden most of the time.

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    • According to various interviews SRK’s given, he never wanted to play positive characters. He wanted to keep doing roles like Darr and Baazigar, and even Deewangee which definitely had some less than “heroic” moments. But Adi convinced him he would never be a real “Hero” unless he switched to romance, and that therefore he HAD to do DDLJ. And then DDLJ did make him a star, but also locked him in to just playing “Raj” over and over again.

      I love the golf scene, because it shows how cold Don is, and how he is always 4 steps ahead of everyone else, including the police. And then the rest of the movie tricks you into forgetting that, until it all comes crashing back into place at the end.

      Farhan acting drives me crazy! And now he’s in a rock band too? His tour is actually coming near me in May, and I am tempted to buy tickets just so I can yell “WHERE IS DON 3?!?!?” at the stage all night. If we ever do get Don 3, I hope it goes a little deeper into the only interesting part of Don 2 (for me), the idea that Don actually does want to go straight and be a better person but no one believes him because his “evil” act is so convincing. That would be a brilliant conclusion, that in some ways Don ends up turning into Vijay, that “Vijay” was hiding inside him the whole time.

      OMG, can you imagine that twist?!?! If at the end of a Don 3 (in which I am assuming he will have to avenge Roma, since Priyanka is officially out of the film), we think Don is dead, and then the twist is seeing a reprise of “Ganpati Mourya” and he’s living a new life as a street performer?

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  2. I’d pay good money to see you yelling at Farhan:) It’s time he got round to finishing the script for Don 3.We’ve been waiting for years and just when we think that it’s not going to happen, something pops up in the media about Don 3.Rinse and repeat.

    I can see why Adi advised him to take DDLJ.It makes perfect sense.I think he wanted to be like Irfan or Navazuddin.But while the public might admire them, they can’t guarantee the viewers on a solo project.Prithviraj said something of the same.That he envies his brother Indrajeet since the latter has the flexibility and freedom to play a variety of roles while he’s hampered by his superstar status.

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  3. I would have been happy with just Don 1, but after Don 2, I need a real resolution to the story!

    With ddlj, I also think Adi was right to cast someone who could really act, and do negative roles. Especially on my close watch, I am appreciating more and more what a complicated character Raj is! Plenty of his later rom – com roles may have been boring and basic, but DDLJ really did challenge him.

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  9. Heh! Add me to the list of people who would pay you to yell at Farhan. Maybe we should trend #GiveusDon3already or #YouWinGreatestActorEvahNowDon3Please. The wait is killing me as well. I don’t think PC is officially out of Don3. I’ve read somewhere that she met with Farhan and Ritesh Sidwani(Excel Ent) recently, during her India trip. Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but a huge part of me hopes PC is smart enough to realize what the DON franchise will do to her stardom in India. Plus SRK-PC pairing (for me, atleast) is explosive. I hope they iron out whatever differences they have and this time around the stupid media stays out of useless and baseless speculation. I cannot imagine recasting Roma’s part. But if it does come to that, would kill to see Anushka play a kickass Roma. I loved her in NH10, and I think she can pull it off…

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    • I don’t want Roma recast either, but I would love to see a totally new heroine played by Anushka or someone like her. Say, Roma dies and Don has to partner up with someone else who is also burning for revenge for the death of her loved one.

      On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 1:24 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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  11. Ok Margaret, I know I say this a lot, but it`s the truth, I’m learning from you how to watch movies, I have watched DON only ones and I hated very much, I have not even seen don 2, I saw it in the era I discovered SRK and I decided to watch all his films, at the beginning of my admiration of him, but I have not become a loyal fan yet
    I think my next Watch No doubt will be DON 1 DON 2

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  12. DON is definitely one of my most favorite movies!! SRK as Don was just sexy–like no way around it. I loved Rahul and Raj–first loves actually haha, but with Don–SRK brings in something so suave… gives me some very 007 vibes haha (probably a little bias makes me prefer SRK’s don to 007)
    I wish they started Don3 already!! I think Farhan Akhtar is an extremely talented filmmaker–and the SRK-Farhan duo is especially good for filmmaking.
    Also–such a fine point in retrospect about Fan (2016). We did get it, and as I probably mentioned it earlier, only SRK (in my opinion) can make an audience care about a character like Don or Gaurav.

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  13. DON is definitely one of my most favorite movies!! SRK as Don was just sexy–like no way around it. I loved Rahul and Raj–first loves actually haha, but with Don–SRK brings in something so suave… gives me some very 007 vibes haha (probably a little bias makes me prefer SRK’s don to 007)

    I wish they started Don3 already!! I think Farhan Akhtar is an extremely talented filmmaker–and the SRK-Farhan duo is especially good for filmmaking.

    Also–such a fine point in retrospect about Fan (2016). We did get it, and as I probably mentioned it earlier, only SRK (in my opinion) can make an audience care about a character like Don or Gaurav.

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    • I wish Farhan would have made Don 3 years ago but he’s too busy trying to be a movie star and rock star. We lost a good director and got a mediocre actor and a terrible singer in return. He sounds like a croaking frog and keeps making vanity music albums for himself.

      I don’t think another Don movie will ever happen.

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      • I wish he would concentrate more on direction and filmmaking! He is pretty good–him and Zoya Akhtar both! Not really a fan of either Gully Boy and I haven’t watched Dil Dhadakne Do… but I loved Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

        Man–I miss SRK on the big screen.

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      • I wish he would concentrate more on direction and filmmaking! He is pretty good–him and Zoya Akhtar both! Not really a fan of either Gully Boy and I haven’t watched Dil Dhadakne Do… but I loved Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

        Man–I miss SRK on the big screen.

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