A debate on comparing the new Don to the original will be as conclusive as comparing Sachin Tendulkar to Sunil Gavaskar. Discounting the minority view arguing the definite superiority of one over the other, one thing most people would agree on is that they were both good batsmen and each is in a league of his own. But, like Tendulkar, being contemporary gives you an edge.
The same holds true for the new Don. It is an adaptation that is sleek, stylish and with a story that will entertain you with well-timed twists and turns.
Shah Rukh Khan is outstanding as the Don, a slick underworld guy whose ruthlessness is portrayed with ease and at the risk of inviting angry rebuttals. Amitabh Bachchan can never look as cruel as SRK. In playing the brief part of Don's replacement, Vijay, though, to be fair, he is just tolerable, unlike Amitabh who was very convincing. But hey, every movie has its weaknesses and barring this detail and some editing, one finds few flaws in the film.
Kareena Kapoor is no Helen, but her brief performance and dance in Yeh Mera Dil is excellent. But before I get to the other performances, I quote Phantom comics, 'For those who came in late,' the brief story is this: The Don is a much sought after criminal and has a look alike in a simpleton, who is used by a policeman to penetrate the Don's underworld organisation after the Don has a fatal encounter with the police. Of the three women in Don's life, two are out to avenge a murder.
Isha Koppikar plays Anita, the Don's moll well but does not deserve poster space for that. Priyanka Chopra surpasses expectations as Roma all the way -- from the way she is introduced to looking polished -- the essence of the modern Bond girl minus the Oh James!
Boman Irani delivers again and does not really play Iftekar, the quintessential inspector. I could go on about the other performances but quite simply, Arjun Rampal, Pawan Malhotra and Om Puri are like icing on the cake.
The movie leverages Malaysia wonderfully within the context of the film. It is not just an exotic locale, which has become the norm these days, it looks classy. The songs are woven well into the story. The choreography reflects the modern theme in Moriya Re and the Khaike Pan Banaraswala songs.
Farhan Akhtar deserves kudos for this movie. Pardon my obsession with the cricket, but you are in for a stylish Tendulkar knock here.
Madhusudan Hegde is based out of Detroit and works for an Indian IT major.