Don 2 is a film that throws light on the megalomaniacal tendencies of Shah Rukh Khan – a film that loves the actor more than it loves the audiences.
Narrating in first person, Don (Shah Rukh Khan), voice filled with hauteur, talks about how noble a man he is by selling drugs at a lower price than his European counterparts, and how those ruthless, clinical men, whose only purpose in the film is to raise their hands like kids in kindergarten when asked a question, want to assassinate him for jeopardizing their business. At that time, Don is in Thailand to receive his drug shipment. However, that facile mission goes awry when the naive men try to kill him, ignorant of the fact that Don is awesome at kicking multiple arses. So, after sending about a dozen people to hell, he returns to Malaysia and surrenders himself to Roma (Priyanka Chopra) and Inspector Malik (Om Puri). Whether that falls under the purview of his dictum of ‘Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi namumkin hai’ – a little too Napoleonic – is debatable.
The reason he goes to prison voluntarily is the oldest one in the book – he wants a cohort for his future undertakings – and who would that be but his old arch-nemesis, Vardhaan (Boman Irani)? Don, femme-fatale Ayesha (Lara Dutta) and the scowl-faced Vardhaan travel to Switzerland, hire an Indian badass called Jabbar (get the ingenious Gabbar inclination?) played by what looks like a wooden plank, make plans and blackmail high-placed officials, with the sole purpose of extorting the Vice President of Deutsche Central Bank – just the act of a man who can’t differentiate between intrepid and asinine.
The image of a Don cultivated by classics like Godfather and Goodfellas is mercilessly disembowelled by Shah Rukh Khan. Don isn’t who he ought to be; not suave, not debonair, instead he strikes a figure of a playground bully given access to a lot of power and wealth, which makes that prestigious title a mere aggrandizement.
Nevertheless, at the same time, he is portrayed as a narcissistic God-like figure that commands pawns on a chessboard, which is a blatant character-contradiction. He can either be the sophisticated man driving fast cars and wearing masks or the absolute playmaker who has everything planned out without getting his hands dirty – either Ethan Hunt or Michael Corleone. Between masquerading as the two, the movie seems to get befuddled by what kind of man it wanted Don to be, and the mouthing of dialogues in a Bale’s Batman-esque, hoarse voice makes that all the more palpable.
Don 2 lacks the adrenaline-pumping action sequences that you would expect from the film. For some unfathomable reason, the movie restrains itself on the edge-of-the-seat, hair-raising stuff that are an exigency in a movie that terms itself as a member of the action genre. Instead of a classy tuxedo that gorgeously embraces the body; the action comes across as a pair of socks that fit loosely around the legs.
The film is a farrago of movies that have already graced theatres in their days. After shamelessly plagiarizing the poster Batman Begins’ poster for Ra.One, SRK borrows heavily from a plethora of movies in Don 2 too. The bank-heist (some originality, that) is an Ocean’s 11 casino-heist rip-off, some of the action is plugged from Die Hard and the part in the jail is nothing you haven’t seen in a hundred different places. Zurich has been shown in a manner similar to The Bourne Identity and even Vardhaan’s demands from the cops towards the end is Dog Day Afternoon done again and done horribly wrong. It is here that the movie-makers forget the basics of cooking – while making a dish out of stale food, conceal the fact well.
The crescendo is what Bollywood is notorious for serving. Shah Rukh speaks the usual mawkish, romantic lines to Priyanka (“tumhe kuch ho gaya toh?”) as they enter the battle-field, a bullet in the fleshy part of the waist miraculously doesn’t kill a person, Shah Rukh goes berserk and tops off a few guys with WWE-inspired pyrotechnics, and the film culminates with a shoddily done ‘surprise!’ But the Jack in the Box is marginally better than the rest of the movie itself, which isn’t really saying much, is it?