Sunday, October 22, 2006

Don - A chase that shouldn't have began in the first place!

I’m quite angry! No, let me rephrase that…I’m extremely angry…and confused! I don’t know whether to be mad at the teenage couple who rear-ended my car yesterday evening in crawling traffic or at Farhan Akhtar for completely massacring a classic movie like Don or at myself for being such a sucker for punishment!

What a way to spend a Friday evening! I braved rush hour traffic to get to the movie hall only to get embroiled in a fender-bender, 911 calls and police interrogation! By the time I reached the movie theater, I was already in a foul mood and unfortunately, Don did nothing to alleviate that!

I loved the original Don, one of my Amitabh Bachchan favorites along with Deewar, Sholay, Namak Haram, Satte pe Satta among others. Having watched it again just a few month’s back, I applauded the engaging storyline, the tight pace, the unusual lack of melodrama and above all the perfect casting of Don. The new Don, although technically a superior fare turned out to be much ado about nothing! Five years ago when Farhan Akhtar gave us Dil Chahta Hai, everyone hailed him as the messiah of ground-breaking cinema in Bollywood. He followed that with a much-hyped damp squib called Lakshya and now the super-hyped remake of Don! Why on earth Farhan, I ask, did you think of re-interpreting with a perfectly fine screenplay and make such a mess of it?!

It started off quite alright…Don (Sharukh Khan) answering a call on his Motorazr (pretty low-tech if you ask me) in a Paris bistro and subsequently beating the pulp out of Chunky Pandey (in desperate need of a face-lift)…introduction of DCP D’silva (Boman Irani) and Roma (Priyanka Chopra) doing a graceful Tai-chi routine. So the first half of the movie went off as expected…when ruthless Don (based in Kuala Lampur this time) is killed by the police, the DCP is afraid that another "Don" will take over when the rest of the gang come of know of his death, so he, unbeknown to the rest of the police force, recruits Don's look-alike Vijay to become the real Don. Vijay is at first reluctant, but when promised that the child he is caring for will be looked after and educated, he agrees. He is successfully re-located back with his gang by feigning injuries and loss of memory. He soon recuperates and takes over the job as Don. Unfortunately the similarity in the plot ends right here. There are so many twists and turns in the plot hereafter that as a purist I cringed and shuddered through the rest of the movie. I’m dying to blurt out the climax to all and sundry but I won’t be a spoil-sport and let the discerning viewer figure it out!

Performance wise I have to admit, everyone put in sincere efforts. It was quite refreshing to see SRK in his bad-ass elements years after Baazigar, Darr, Anjaam and Ram Jaane. We got so used see him sleep-walking through the Yash Raj type romantic roles as Raj or Rahul, that we nearly forgot that he could be quite delicious as a bad guy too! But its one thing to stammer K-k-k-kiran and totally another thing to mouth dialogues immortalized by the only superstar of Hindi film industry! SRK’s delivery of the famous lines was too hurried and lacked the desired punch! Yet I cannot deny his sincerity…looked like he relished every snarl and every growl looking through narrowed eyes…but honestly he wasn’t menacing enough! I mean how can you take someone seriously who sings “bahut hi khatarnaak hu main”?

I love Boman Irani in general and can sit through his idiotic antics even when he’s hamming…but his DCP D’silva just wasn’t good enough! One can’t help but miss Iftekhar’s portrayal of the gritty weaseled cop who is Vijay’s only alibi! And what was the big idea of casting Om Puri as Malik only to give him less screen time than the model-turned actor playing Inspector Verma?

Kareena Kapoor’s much talked about cameo as Kamini was a pleasant surprise…she looked great and acted her part well but got saddled with unimaginative choreography (aping the original by Helen, which wasn’t that great to begin with) in “Yeh Mera Dil”…her moves were dated and too frantic to be seductive! Priyanka Chopra had a tough job filling Zeenat Aman’s shoes. She didn’t really have the fire of original Roma but gave a restrained performance and some spectacular stunts. A lovely girl with a body to die for, Priyanka should really look at her wardrobe a little carefully…some of her attires were downright tacky!

Last but not the least is Arjun Rampal (or is it Ramphal…whatever) reprising Pran’s role as Jasjit. His story is supposed to be running parallel with Vijay’s…but in Farhan Akhtar’s version he just vanishes into thin air without any explanation whatsoever somewhere near the climax.

The climax itself, shot at Mt Mat Chinchang in Langkawi was quite bizarre and comes as a complete surprise to everyone, purists and novices alike! It doesn’t tie the endings in a neat bow which it should have, instead opens avenues for a sequel in the near future.

Farhan Akhtar with the blessing of his indulgent father Javed Akhtar (who also happens to be one of the writers of the original) has presented a supposedly updated Don. He has given this Don a sleek wardrobe, plush locations and technical gloss, along with confusion and mayhem in general. Herald this as the harbinger of a slew Bachchan remakes -- everything from Sholay to Amar Akbar Anthony to Satte Pe Satta which is in the pipeline, and that’s not good news at all!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I’ve been a bit homesick lately, what with my knee surgery, the aftermath, the rehabilitation and the frustration of not being able to function “normally”. Then the Seattle fall/winter has set in…anyone who has been in Seattle between October and May will know what I’m talking about…the bleak light, the incessant rain, the cold wind day after day after day…I already feel the symptoms of winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD...what an apt name) if I try to make it sound glamorous!

Makes me want to go home…but then the million dollar question is...where’s home? Isn’t this home, the cozy nest that I've painstakingly built, which I share with my two boys? Is the cavernous mansion in Kolkata home, where my mom is spending her twilight years with two ailing dogs and a lifetime of memories as company? Or is it the house by the lake, where I was born, where I grew up, where every nook and corner has memories of my father, of which I dream about even after leaving it quarter of a century back? How about the shoe-box size flat in Bangalore, my very own space for the first time, where I learnt many a important lesson in life including atta-daal ka bhav? Is it the tiny apartment in Redmond I stepped into as a blushing bride to be greeted by a room full of pink and yellow and white balloons? Or the suburban house where I grew lilies and roses and the backyard patio still has the handprint of my baby boy in wet cement? Should I go back to the designer home in Hyderabad with its film star neighbors and army of servants? They say home is where the heart is…then where do I have to go to feel at home?

Going home, where love abounds.
Coming home, where comfort is found.
After many journeys long,
you turn back to where you belong.
Home again, where you find rest.
From every trial and every test