With a couple of days to go before his third film Don releases worldwide, director Farhan Akhtar sat down with his legendary Pa Javed Akhtar -- who wrote the original film with Salim Khan -- at the latter's Juhu home; together, they revisited the old Don and unraveled the new in an exclusive and exhaustive interview with Prem Panicker and Raja Sen.
The second of a three-part interview:
So the 'remake' bit is only during its making, it is valid only till the theatre goes dark and the movie begins -- and then it is a whole other movie?
Farhan: When the picture starts, you are seeing the remake, and that is true until some point when the whole thing changes, and you begin seeing an entirely new film. Even within that new movie, there are points of reference that you will recognise from the earlier one, but at some point it is a totally different story. You will know what the differences are, but you won't stop to think about them.
The character's dilemma is the same, the plot is the same, the conflict is the same, but what transpires across all of that is different.
You've made a new Don but you've hugely referenced the old one, haven't you? Scenes, situations, dialogues, even a song or two -- you keep bringing back references; you are not shying away from the old Don.
Farhan: Of course not -- I am not for even one moment shying away from the old Don. Apart from the fact that I love that movie, the reason why I am remaking it, reimagining it, is because of how fantastic the first movie was.
So it is your tribute to a much-loved film.
Farhan: At some level, of course yes. It is a tribute, not just to that film, but to that time, to the films Pa and Salim uncle (Salim Khan, who co-wrote Don with Javed Akhtar) and Mr Bachchan made. The movies they made at the time have had an amazing impression on me, a deep impression, and this is my way of harking back to that time and publicly saying yeah, these movies did mean a lot to me.
Leaving the movie aside for a moment, what is it about Don, the character, that appeals to you; that makes you want to tell his story?
Farhan: It is always fascinating to see how a twisted mind works. We see good people on the screen all the time -- and the trouble with good people is they are not multi-dimensional. We see them as a good person and they remain a good person for the rest of the film; nothing can change them, nothing will ever happen to them, what they have decided to do they will do. But to have a mind that can keep changing, to deal with a mind that is dark, to create that kind of a character and then to tell his story, that is really fascinating.
Javed-saab, what was your mindset when you conceived Don?
Javed: At first, it was not about the character -- we thought that it was a very interesting plot. To begin with, it was about this man who was planted by a police officer in a gang because he resembles the dead criminal. And then the only man who knows he has planted this person, the only one who knows this man in the Don's clothes is innocent, dies -- so for the world, not just for the gang, this innocent person is actually a Don.
So now this man is in deep trouble. This twist was interesting, and to begin with we had only this twist. And then we evolved the whole screenplay around it. The creative spark was this impossible situation -- tala bandh, chabhi phenk di, so now what will happen? How will this person unlock himself?
Don't forget to read the next instalment of this fascinating conversation with Farhan and Javed Akhtar tomorrow!
Photograph of Farhan Akhtar: Prem Panicker