Farhan Akhtar's Don is sadly a major disappointment. For those who have seen the original, this film, a contemporary retelling of the Bachchan classic Don (1978), comes a distant second and for those who haven't seen the original, it is a dull slow paced thriller full of style, some interesting action sequences but no substance whatsoever. The film is without doubt the weakest Shah Rukh Khan starrer to hit the Indian screens in a long, long time.
The original Don is the closest Hindi Cinema has come to making a good, genuine Hitchcockian-innocent-man-on-the-run thriller. It was without doubt Salim-Javed's tightest and most ingenious screenplay, had well etched out characters who involved you, moved at a rapid pace, had innovative twists and turns, music that gelled beautifully with film and of course a knockout performance from Bachchan as both don and the simple rustic, Vijay. However, much of all this is missing in the new stylized, hyped up film.
The biggest failure here is the weak screenplay of the film. A good thriller should not make you think of loopholes but this one with its sluggish pace gives you plenty of time to do so. The earlier Don also had a strong emotional base that motivated all the various characters but the new one trivializes this aspect. As a result the film appears totally hollow. Also, much of the emotional track of the earlier film and its treatment was very correct for its time but looks hopelessly outdated today.
The first half largely follows the original film with most of the key dialogues intact but with one new twist at the interval. However, unfortunately this does nothing for the film so you wonder why - maybe it was just a way to shake the viewer who has seen the original Don out of his complacency. But rather than being utilized properly this works for the moment but that's about it. The most interesting change in the new avatar however is the final twist. Depending on your take, you could applaud the director for being audacious and gutsy or you could react more with a what-are-you-trying-to-pull Mr. Akhtar? Acting extra clever? Though initially taken in by the director's audacity, as one thinks about it later, the more one tends to favour the latter argument. Although, to be fair a few elements have been worked backwards in the screenplay to make this a little more believable but it also leaves several loose ends lying about. Maybe the makers are thinking of a sequel in these days of follow ups???
Coming to the performances, Shah Rukh Khan tries hard and gives it all But Amitabh Bachchan's shoes are tough to fill and that too for two roles. Shah Rukh is naturally second to the Big B in both of them but he does come off comparatively better as the stylish don than the other avtaar of the good hearted but poor Vijay. Priyanka, Arjun Rampal, Pavan Malhotra (good to see him again on screen) and Kareena are all adequate at best. Boman Irani has his moments but what is it with Om Puri and Farhan Akhtar? After Lakshya, this is the second consequetive time the supremely gifted actor is totally wasted in the role of a glorified extra by the director. But essentially if none of the performances can be spoken of in superlatives it's largely because the actors are defeated by the one dimensional uninvolving, cardboard characterizations the screenplay affords them.
On the technical side, special mention must be made of KU Mohanan's splendid cinematography and Aradhana Seth's rich Production Design which give the film its style, look and polish. The Music works best with Shankar-Ehsaan Loy's new take on the Don title track. The Ganapati song is adequate enough but the re-recorded version of Yeh Mera Dil and Khaike Paan Baranaswala come again as distantly inferior to their original counterpoints. And, the less said about the picturization of Khaike the better. The action scenes too are just interesting in bits - what was that Moonraker fight in the skies??? The film plods along, feels never ending and needed much crisper editing.
Our advice? Stick to the original.