Sunday, December 25, 2011
'Don2 'a Hindi film made in Hollywood style like other Farhan Akhtar films
Hindi films have borrowed from Hollywood as long as one can remember. Shakti Samanta's 'Howrah Bridge' starring Ashok Kumar and Madhubala is a classic example of this trend. So overeducated culture critics should not jump to the lazy conclusion that it is the latest generation of film directors of a liberalised India who have become Westernised in their film-making style. But even in 'Howrah Bridge' there was the unmistakable Indian flavour in sentiment and song. With Farhan Akhtar we see a trend that began with Shekhar Kapoor where the attempt is to imitate the Western manner lock, stock and barrel. One cannot really quarrel with that. It is a question of personal choice. All that we can do is to point out the trend.
Akhtar's early movies, 'Dil Chahta Hain' and 'Rock On' carried a similar Western manner. That could be the reason for its limited success because it has limited appeal. In 'Don2', Akhtar adopts the Hollywood action thriller format, competing as it were with 'Mission Impossible 'series. The scene opens in Kuala Lumpur, moves to Zurich and Berlin. The film has been shot entirely outside India. The trend of shooting outside India is old as well. But in this film the plot unfolds completely outside India. Call it the globalisation of the Don played by Amitabh Bachchan, singing 'khaaye paan banaraswala' and with a genuine love interest in Zeenat who loves the man donning the role of Don and finds out the secret at the end. Iftikhar, who played the inspector then was very Indian. Om Puri, the Indian Interpol officer is Western except that he speaks in Hindi. So is police officer the American-style Roma Bhagat (Priyanka Chopra), who wears her strapped gun belt even inside office. Lara Datta, who plays the Don's mole and sweetheart is sufficiently Western as well. It has to be admitted that Priyanka Chopra pulls off the Western manner quite convincingly. The villains -- the other gangsters, are all Indian with the Western flavour. Then we have the Don himself, played in an android manner by Shah Rukh Khan, starting out as a Hong Kong-type Chinese underworld lord and turning into the normal Anglicised underwolrd don. The dialogues of Farhan Akhtar are as inane as that of any Hollywood thriller. Those punch lines are supposed to convey irony, wit and pathos but they turn out to be simply flat.
As in 'The Slumdog Millionaire', in 'Don2' as well, the attractive song featuring Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra comes after the film is over and the titles are being shown. It is an embarrassing compromise that wants to have a song and dance number but the director is unable to make it part of the screenplay which runs on the assembly line Hollywood lines. Perhaps Farhan Akhtar will feel less embarrassed to include songs in his films as he gathers more confidence and he turns more Indian in his film-making sensibility.
Priyanka Chopra deserves special mention. She leaves Angelina Jolie way behind. It would seem that the filmmakers and stars of 'Don2"are indeed looking to Hollywood to make their break but they will not even as the Chinese stars of Hong Kong films with their Western image could not do so. It is good for India that Priyanka Chopra remains Indian despite the efforts of Farhan Akhtar and Priyanka Chopra herself.
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