When Farhan Akhtar remade the 1978 classic Don in 2006, he was clearly under more pressure to get the viewer to accept Shahrukh Khan as Don than he was to tell a fresh story. It was more a remake in the sense that Shahrukh Khan was playing the character that had already been played to perfection almost three decades before. Shahrukh Khan was the only actor who could’ve filled Amitabh Bachchan’s shoes, and even armed with Bachchan’s lines and a whole lot of reference points and Farhan Akhtar’s guidance, he had a hard time convincing cinema buffs that he was the new Don.
In 2011, Farhan Akhtar makes it clear that he isn’t any longer trying to sell SRK as AB. He focuses on storytelling, multiplies the thrills, adds a truckload of witty lines to the thick bunch his father co-wrote for Amitabh Bachchan, and uses Shah Rukh Khan as his primary weapon.
Don surrenders to the police because his enemies are out to kill him; Don escapes from prison with Vardaan (Boman Irani), who was in jail because of him; Don plans and executes a bank heist; Don, in the end, defeats his enemies, and walks away after striking a deal with the cops, and he has what he wants. In short, Don hoodwinks everyone because he’s Don. Anyone can predict that Don will emerge as the one and only winner, but what nobody will expect is Farhan Akhtar to blow your mind. Akthar uses a tight script, a fantastic car-chase sequence, and Lara Dutta, among other things… but these are only to help the story move forward.
Farhan Akhtar blows your mind with Shahrukh Khan, who, in turn, returns to power, acts like none of the other superstars can and probably ever will. His Don does go over the top, and unlike Amitabh Bachchan’s Don, expects and waits for a reaction after delivering his lines, but still, he’s a lot more fun to watch than the others. Aamir Khan will scratch his head for exactly 11 minutes and 57 seconds and will never say anything negative about SRK again. Salman Khan will get drunk and use foul language and his sycophants will say things like “Bhai is upset” and “Bhai is not keeping well” to the press. Abhishek Bachchan, if he hasn’t already, will now realize he is not the heir to his father’s throne. Akshay Kumar will evaporate.
Shah Rukh Khan opens the floodgates of his charm, and the viewer will be eating out of his hands from the first minute of Don 2, wishing it would never end. Shahrukh Khan has the laugh of a movie megastar. The laugh that tells you, when Don is under threat and in great danger or flirting with the hot chick (the ultra-sexy Priyanka Chopra – I love her) who is having the toughest time of her cute life fighting off Don’s advances, that everything is under control. Under Don’s control. Amitabh Bachchan had that laugh, even though I don’t remember him laughing in Don. And SRK has it. They don’t have the same style of laughing, but now there are two styles of laughing Don will be associated with. Maybe it’s because they both just have their own unique styles of laughing? I’m confusing myself here, so excuse me. Shah Rukh, even while hamming occasionally, looks a lot more at ease being Don now, in Don 2.
Priyanka Chopra is the sexiest woman in Bollywood, and she looks even sexier when she acts. There are others in Don 2 too, but you don’t want to know about anyone except SRK and PC, right? Right. But I’ll tell you anyway: Om Puri has become a joke, and Boman Irani gets a better shot at acting than he does in the Munnabhai series.
Don 2 is fucking slick – it’s like watching a Hollywood action-thriller. Farhan Akhtar leaves no loopholes, and makes the story rather believable. If only it hadn’t been stretched all that much to make Don seem like even more of a daredevil (he returns to the bank after executing the heist successfully and vanishing from the scene), Don 2 would have been a compact blockbuster worth watching several times. One more thing I have to credit Don with: he has impeccable taste. We both are extremely fond of wild cats.