Friday, October 20, 2006

Don - Well (Re)made!

Now this is how a remake should be 'made'! Take the theme and spirit of the original, and rework it to present something 'different', something that adds that extra zing to the original. When I had watched the remake of Omen, despite being a good watch, I had a problem with it because it was too faithful to the original, almost like a replica. My point was - why remake a film when you have nothing new to add by way of treatment and interpretation.

Farhan Akhtar's Don is a perfect example of how a hugely popular and successful film can be remade without compelling the audiences to make comparisons with the original. Yes, the risk of comparison in this case runs huge especially because the original happens to star the greatest superstar of Indian cinema. But the way Farhan Akhtar has interpreted the original I didn't feel the need to make any comparison. Having watched the original just 2 weeks back, it was natural I had the original at the back of my mind all along, but not once during the two and a half hours did I consciously look for 'differences' and 'shortcomings' in the remake. All this is to Farhan's credit.

If Chandra Barot's Don was a suave, no nonsense, smooth talking smuggler; Farhan's Don has a certain amount of madness, a certain obsessive fringe to him. Whether this added dimension was due to the fact that Farhan had chosen Shahrukh Khan to play the part or he chose Sharukh because of this interpretation of the character, I'm not sure. But what's true is that no other actor could've done justice in portraying the character as visualized by Farhan. When it comes to going over the top, no one can beat Shahrukh Khan. Farhan Akhtar successfully manages to contain Shahrukh's penchant for excessive hamming, and helps Shahrukh in providing just the right amount of flamboyance and over-the-top quality to the character. Comparisons with Amitabh? Well, that would be unfair. Suffice it to saying that Shahrukh doesn't make you want to miss Amitabh, except when he plays Don's look-alike - Vijay.

Farhan Akhtar's take on Don is glitzy, hip, trendy and hugely entertaining. While he has remained largely faithful to the original script, he has taken certain liberties - kahani mein twist, which would unnerve the purists, but which, in my opinion, only add positively to the overall impact of the film. In keeping with the genre of the film, the technical aspects are all first rate. The cinematography, the editing, the background score - everything is in tune with the theme. The music of the film has a retro charm, borrowing liberally from the original yet adding a unique stamp on it. The only downer I found in the film was its erratic pacing. Even though I went to watch the movie with a clear intention of avoiding any comparison with the original, at times I did feel that the original moved at a tighter and faster pace than Farhan's version. And that probably means that Farhan needs to take a crash course in screen writing from his illustrious father and his estranged friend Salim (this comment is strictly based on what I saw in the credits - 'Adapted from the original screenplay by Salim-Javed' and 'Written and Directed by Farhan Akhtar')

With Don, Farhan Akhtar proves yet again his versatility as a director. He shows that a good director doesn't always have to stick to similar style and themes. Something a certain Mr. Johar could learn from.