“Don 2 “… Don’t!

The depressingly underwhelming (and numbingly long) Don 2 is less about Farhan Akhtar’s commitment to plot and character than hairstyling and haberdashery. Watch Shah Rukh Khan, in the opening scenes, resembling the world’s nattiest Naga sadhu. Behold Om Puri, gratefully grown out of his simian buzz cut in the earlier movie. See Lara Dutta’s ripe cheekbone framed by an inverted-comma cascade of silken hair. After the first Don, the reboot, the question on my mind was why they bothered. Why remake a star vehicle so identified with a one-time superstar? Why not simply write something new around a next-generation superstar? And Farhan Akhtar’s response was that he was bringing Don to a generation that had grown up without fond memories of the Bachchan blockbuster. I suppose his justification for Don 2 would be that he’s bringing Mission: Impossible and Die Hard to a generation that’s grown up without those blockbusters. Don 2 is so derivative, so dull that it makes us realise something we’d have thought hardly possible as the year began: Anubhav Sinha has ended up making the better Shah Rukh Khan film.

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Ra.One, mistakenly marketed (and seen by many) as some sort of sci-fi breakthrough, was, at heart, an old-fashioned potboiler, unashamed about its lowbrow priorities. What kept us – okay, me – watching was some mildly diverting drama about a reincarnated hero avenging his death. The film was livened by vulgar showmanship. Farhan Akhtar, though, will never stoop to something as common as giving the audiences a rollicking good time, something to hoot and holler about (or at). Attitude, to him, is all. He stylises everything – clothes, performances, dialogues, and, yes, hair – to such an extent in Don 2 that the film is airless. It doesn’t breathe – all it does is pose, the world’s longest commercial for high living. Why condescend to make movies for Hindi audiences if all you want to do is mimic Hollywood? We have our own trash – like Ra.One – thank you very much. We don’t need this imported rubbish. When I watch laughably wannabe films like Blue, balancing their western stylings with desperate dashes of desi sentiment, I slot them as Hollywood films for those who don’t see Hollywood films. Who knew the director of Dil Chahta Hai would surrender to that ethos?

Don 2 raises more questions than its predecessor. Why resurrect the characters of Don and Vardhan (Boman Irani) for a commonplace heist movie? If Don is some sort of underworld drug lord, why doesn’t he seem to have any henchmen to do his bidding? Why does he end up doing all the hard work himself, like a Commissioner of Police doubling as a constable? Why the needless 3-D? Why the ridiculous romantic flirtation between Don and Roma (Priyanka Chopra) that undermines both characters, making them weaker and sillier than their positions of power suggest? Didn’t anyone protest at the rhythms of such dialogue as “Mujhe apne aap ko zinda rakhna suit karta hai”? Shah Rukh cannot decide whether to stay in character, or reduce Don to a preening peacock, mightily tickled that everything he does is so cool. Why should we bother investing in Don if the actor playing him can’t be bothered? Boman Irani, though wasted, has an entertaining few minutes where he pretends, like a schoolboy in math class, to be engrossed in the droning intonations of an expert. Only Lara Dutta, purring like a well-stroked kitten, escapes unscathed, amusing herself with her gorgeousness for lack of anything remotely amusing around her.

Copyright ©2011 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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47 thoughts on ““Don 2 “… Don’t!

  1. Lara really was ridiculously gorgeous in the film. I wanted way more of her than the movie had. I see your points, but I rather enjoyed the film, despite Shahrukh’s painful delivery of English dialogue. It was silly, pretty fun,

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  2. It’s seems, SRK banked more on DON 2 to cover the slip of RA one, may be he won lot of his fans back by this movie, as many seem’s to like, but he lost a good ground among Critics,and other Passionate movie goer’s., it will seriously Cost him, when he looks back!

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  3. hmm Indian’s have a tendency to run down their own creations.. I have never heard anyone complain about looks of Bruce WIllis or Tom Cruise in DIE HARD or MI series of movies.. but that apart…

    1. Has it occured to you that DON is a NOUN here and not a ADJECTIVE .. come to think of it ..even the very original DON ( with Mr Bachhann ) was a lone operator ..
    2.On one hand you say DON does not have a henchmen doing his bidding and on other hand you question the usefulness of Boman Irani / Lara Datta .. ( not to forget that Jabbar character and Kunal Kapoor etc )
    3. What’s wrong in a stylised movie? Or should India only be portrayed in Slumdog Millionaire fashion…
    4. 3 D – we should stop equating 3D to objects flying at you .. and see it as movie unfolding on a stage rather than on a 2 D flat screen .. but then you knew this already right?

    I would watch the movie for only one thing if nothing else… it’s true to its genre ( which is never the case with bollywood movies )… no useless item songs.. so stupid love triangles.. no Bollywood masala… Its sleek.. the screenplay is tight and and everyone has done good job with their roles..

    Cheers
    K

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  4. BR, what did you think of the ‘DZB ka Vice Prez Indian hai?’ line? That was the only line in the movie that got a chuckle out of me, simply ‘coz it evinced the only slickness in writing on Farhan’s part .. him winking at the audience to ‘go with it and accept that every key figure in Berlin is Indian’ … of course the moronic ‘Indian gunda’ hired to take care of Don killed that joke pretty soon … Guy charges 5 million euros, but can’t even track down Don on his own? and then follows him around like a common hoodlum? Farhan was so concerned with making Don awesome ‘by comparison’ that he made every other character a moron …
    One thought … we’re often told that production values can’t match Hollywood’s but when you set out to make a slick thriller and all the fault is in the writing, what to make of that?? Don 2 was a masterclass in squandering opportunities through loose writing …

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  5. Right. And “Dabangg”, “Bodyguard” and “Robot” were cinematic gems — just because they fell within the shallow parameters of masala cinema. And they had superstars whom everyone is too scared of criticising.

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  6. When I have an amazing vacation at a place, I fear to go there again. It is strange, but I don’t want some bad memory to cloud my good memory of a place. I had a great vacation at Goa. Despite reluctance my friends pulled me there again – now little more grown up, little more cognizant of optimism and positive attitude, I was less critical of the misses but concentrated on the hits. I kind of enjoyed the 2nd outing too. The very fact that I wasn’t let down (as expected), was a success.

    But, once again to Goa ?! Not in this life. Nothing would surpass those two experiences.

    In principle, I was always against the remakes/sequels of the old movies. When Don – Chase begins again was announced, a part of me cringed and hoped against hope that it does not spoil the great taste of original Don. Being a blind fan of Farhan Akthar, a part of me secretly enjoyed (taken over by the positive attitude grown up self) that it didn’t fall into bad hands ..at least it is Farhan Akthar – who could do no wrong.

    Stylish, revamped, for the new age kids came the Don. It reversed the two twists – the very two story elements that we thought had happened in original Don and the beauty in the original was that they did not happen , and hence had kept us curious. So, by changing those plot points, we were again fooled by the directors, as we were busy drawing parallel to the original all the time and this again came as a surprise. In hindsight, this was how the original and logical one should have been. By that, somewhat crude logic and subjective analysis, I enjoyed the Don again for its smartness, for its getting the younger generation. If the younger generation had just watched Don -Chase begins, without having watched the original, they still would enjoy.

    But when Don 2 was announced, the commercial, new age bollywood had taken over. It is ironical that the guy who breathed fresh air into Bollywood with DCH, the guy who later followed with Lakshya, Rock On – would want to do a sequel of a trusted brand instead of venturing into something new. But then, money talks at the end.

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  7. “When I watch laughably wannabe films like Blue, balancing their western stylings with desperate dashes of desi sentiment, I slot them as Hollywood films for those who don’t see Hollywood films”

    Spot on, B!

    As an action junkie, half of whose DVD collection (currently numbering around 500 and growing, not counting downloads ) consists of action movies from Hollywood and HK, why would I choose to see half-assed rip-offs masquerading as the real thing?

    I’ve said it before, Indian movies can’t do action. Our filmmakers either can’t be bothered to get the appropriate (read:imported) people in to do it right, or have convinced themselves that the buffoonish antics from the likes of Peter Heine (or his Bollywood equivalent) is the high water mark of fight choreography (when 5 minutes of a Jet Li or Donnie Yen flick will drive home the point we’re about 10 years behind!).

    Why subject myself to an Indian gunfight when I have the entire John Woo ouevre at my disposal? Why endure a Bolly/Kolly/ car chase when Peter Yates’ Bullitt and John Frankenheimer’s Ronin is the Gold Standard and within arm’s reach?

    Thanks for the warning, I’ll give Don 2 a wide berth. About the only thing I liked about the original (remake that is) was the neat twist at the end. which judging from your review, is something that has been thoroughly squandered in this installment.

    I’d rather stick with something like Peepli Live or Pudhupettai or Veyyil if I want Indian cine fare. As flawed as they were, they were uniquely Indian, showcasing things we do better than Western filmakers as opposed to the Dons or Blues or Dhooms tepidly refrying Hollywood beans.

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  8. Hey rangudu, Let sharukh Khan and Farhan akhtar know one thing from me,

    “Ramesh (ram) ko marna mushkil hi nahin , namumkin hai!” :D

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  9. “I have never heard anyone complain about looks of Bruce WIllis or Tom Cruise in DIE HARD or MI series of movies.”

    I’ll let the Tom Cruise remark slide, but Bruce Willis had a “look” in Die Hard?? John McClane’s soiled singlet and bare feet were a function of it’s terrific plot, NOT a Fashion Statement. McClane was an increasingly bloodied survivor, trying to hold his wits about him and boosting his own morale with sardonic quips, not an air-brushed poser trying for Cool.

    Biiiiiiiig difference…..

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  10. I found it enjoyable in a campy, silly, eye candy sort of way (though it does take a nosedive once the DZB siege portions start)…but then, those days of films showing phoren locations without any plot are long gone…this harks back to earlier pre-90s climes, now we are no longer content to see films as just travel-porn… Also, all that smoke and mirrors stuff for a flailing currency…..seriously now…

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  11. Watched this in Tamil, hoping it’d at least be fun, even if bad. The promo showed some promise (Roma, my kaattu poonai); but it turned out to be so bland and lazily written, even the dubbing couldn’t enliven the proceedings.

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  12. Point is .. why start review of the movie based on make up of a character… there are million other good or bad things which are cinematicaly more sensible .. I didn’t see any comments about cinematography.. editing .. script , screenplay etc etc .. There was a comment or two about dialogs , but then most so called Hollywood and HK action flicks have tons of idiotic and cliched dilogs .. no?
    All am saying is .. be critical.. but on right parameters…!!

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  13. @BR

    Et tu Brute?!

    Why this kolaveri da?

    Don 2 is by no means a cinematic gem… but to trash it the way you(and my good friend Sudhish Kamath) have…makes me wonder if critics are generally on a downer trip by the end of the year.

    Calling it the better SRK film of the year vis-a-vis Ra one..ROTFL! Come on! Ra one is barely a film… this at worst is a bad film.

    “We have our own trash – like Ra.One – thank you very much.” – NO! no thank you very much… we shouldn’t be having trash like Ra.One… Don 2 IS the kind of trash we should be having.

    I totally understand your angst with such derivative work… I share it too… In fact that’s my big grouse against filmmakers like Shimit Amin, Gautam Menon, and Farhan Akhtar.

    But let’s please not project ‘3 music videos+2 racist jokes+25 brand endorsements+some video game mumbo-jumbo’ even in a faintly positive light, just to vindicate a hatred towards ‘Desi hollywood’.

    “the world’s longest commercial for high living” – Yes, I too hate films which do nothing but look stunningly pretty…but then I am forced to think this… We all want women/men with substance who are pleasing to our eyes… but is the plain hot chick/guy really that bad? Isn’t he/she more fun than half-baked intellectuals with ill-fitting clothes?

    Also I’m forced to hark back to the same point I made last time on your blog…Aren’t ‘We’ being a little too lenient to MI 4 and offensively harsh on Don 2?

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  14. Wannabe? Huh. Most of the “desi” movies that you blindly venerate are snobbish and pseudo-entertainers. People like you and the brainwashed acolytes of the so-called “desi” masala movies are just too scared to think for themselves and just go by whatever media or “popular folks” tell you to like or dislike.

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  15. @vijay

    It’s ok to insult a movie/star. But you end up sounding stupid when you don’t even have the faintest idea of what you’re insulting. ;)

    Billa 2 is NOT a sequel. It is a PREQUEL that will narrate how Billa becomes an international ganglord from lowly(?) means.

    In case you haven’t heard of the term “prequel” and wish to refute its existence, I would suggest you google the upcoming Hollywood film Hobbit, that’s also a prequel.

    You could also check here if you still have doubts:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prequel

    In any case, whatever Thala does is sure to be a gazillion times better than what that greased up mannequin Saarukan can do. It’s a no-contest.

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  16. These days reviews are posted ignoring the fact and hard work which was done behind the scenes. Its easy to comment and difficult to make things happen.
    People want to put in few bugs and enjoy the fun of 100 crores and months of hard work,but cant have dignity to even appreciate the effort …good or bad is subjective.
    Every one has their own perception and way of looking at things. DON 2 might not be greatest movie, but are you expecting everything to be perfect. I have never seen reviews on movies which might not even have big names or big actors and would be making more sense( ex: parallel cinema).
    These days every tom dick harry has right to write( including me ..ha ha) and so reviews come out in anyway possible, which can impact the business or anyone’s hard work.Or ppl are worried abt their rs and so forget some one has invested crores to make a piece of entertainment, but was any viewer forced? to watch a film when he was so gaga about hollywood films or action films elsewhere!!

    think before you write. People who want to watch will still watch, your words are just showing your craving of being intelligent and being judgemental.
    Max of people who go to watch movie, want entertainment ,every one doesnt want an intelligent cinema, well crafted plan, excellence in every aspect.
    remember ” if you are using too much brains in entertainment, you might even find the fastest ride in amusement park as childish and blunt”…..

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  17. I just saw “Vikram” – that was derivative even for its time – though admittedly hilarious to watch now.
    Is Don 2 even worse than that ?

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  18. Nice review Brangan. Agree with everything u said except one thing. Just matter of opinion -I dont agree to the verdict that ra.one is better film. I am very sure that though independently it may not pass for a good film at all but Don 2 is a far far and 10 times better film than ra.one just because it looks like a film and not a game. It may boil down to the fact that i can see a point in srk’s Don1 and hated ra.one completely while is vice-versa in your case.

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  19. I know you’re not much of an action movie critic, but nonetheless, I can’t help but be curious. Don (the first part) had some of the best action sequences and fight choreography I’ve seen in an Indian film. Does the fight choreography hold up in this film?

    As for “Indians can’t make action films” sentiment, I disagree. We have some excellent raw-street-violence-based films – just because we do not have men kick-boxing the shit out of each other in perfectly timed moves doesn’t mean we can’t direct action properly. Also, I honestly do not get the love for John Woo films – all of his action sequences are insanely unrealistic. I might as well be watching a Bay film – how does every 30-round magazine in his film suddenly turn into a 300-round magazine? Seriously, his guns just keep firing without any re-loading whatsoever.

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  20. AJ, two points:

    1) This is his personal opinion. You are free to agree or disagree. A reviewer’s job is not to say how mass audiences would find the film.

    2) Every movie, even bad ones, take a lot of hard work. If how much hard work was put into a movie, book, album etc. made it immune to criticism, then goodbye criticism. Its hard to run a political campaign for even the most corrupt politicians too, so I don’t want to hear any criticisms there :-P The amount of work put into a film is irrelevant. Reviewers aren’t reviewing the process of making a film. They’re reviewing the PRODUCT. Great films have been churned out in a few weeks, and terrible films have taken a year. The amount of work put into a film is irrelevant for the reviewer, and ultimately for the audience. Nobody comes out of a film appreciating the hard work of the grips and production coordinators. They just know whether or not they liked a film.

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  21. Haven’t watched Don 2 but regarding the Ajith comment, I had an interesting thought earlier today. All superstars in Tamil cinema, right from MKT to MGR to Rajini, have been older than their closest competitor. In that sense, I think Ajith may well be the next big one, so respect! But seriously, it isn’t nice to call them names.

    I omitted Vikram because he seems to be in a different orbit from the rest, try as he might to be classified as a ‘normal’ hero. I’d say Madhavan is in a similar league, but his priorities are clearer to the naked eye.

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  22. the guy who wrote this article should be exported to america. comparing bollywood movies to hollywood is ur biggest mistake. and stop finding so many mistakes with the movie, its because of ppl like u that dumb critics are present. if u are talking so much, why not direct a movie or even easier, tell us how u want the movie to be presented. if u do any of that, i’ll agree don2 sucks.

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  23. Seriously, Baradwaj?

    I didn’t go to there to watch a movie with terrific plot – but rather a slick action thriller with a tolerable storyline and some badass Don one liners. And I’m by and large satisfied by the film.

    I dunno whats the point of such scathing review? What exactly were your expectations after watching the promos?

    The only part I agree with is the Roma/Don romance part, though I think it might have been just an act (though he does like Roma as he admits) and worked well in the end for him.

    But yeah, whatever.

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  24. this review is a complete trash…I never liked srk much but after this movie i am not only his fan but also a fan of farhan akhtar’s directorial and script writing skills.
    action was jaw dropping , srk was awesome , and story was brilliant and intelligent. i think BR has seen an entirely complete movie.

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  25. BR, spot on! Also Rk, agree!

    Yes, the movie was slick, polished, and not embarassing (unlike Anil Kapoor’s turn in MI-4), and in production values can match Hollywood.
    But:
    – it was way too slow
    – there was hardly a plot (i don’t need a story, but let there be at least plot elements to fill those 2.5 hours)
    – Shahrukh Khan drained the life out of every one-liner he was given, as if he was acting on stage. Every one-liner, he used to start by chewing the lines, then wait for a second, so that the public could cheer (almost like a ghazal singer or a shayar waiting to hear wah-wah) and then throw out the punchline and look supremely pleased with himself, following it up with a goat-like-laugh. It took me the last bit of patience, and my solidly paid $10 to sit through this one.
    I went in expecting a slick movie with a menacing villainous lead. I got the slick, but insterad of ‘villainous’, I got a “superstar” , whose “menacing” smile, was boring, his dialogues were amusing, and his swagger, errr, could he please watch Sanjay Dutt for a month and practice? Dialogues (or one-liners) and menace works when exhibited at specific intervals, not throughout the movie. I did not think that Farhan Akhtar would succumb to this overtness.

    And to think I was looking forward to an entertaining Christmas movie!

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  26. One more thing: I thought Game was a slick movie with a stiff actor and not much plot to move it forward….Don2 could be said to be almost the same, except that there were stars in here which were absent in Game, and they did not do much better than those non-stars in Game.
    I guess to those who are brought out their knives and started accusing BR of “comparing Bollywood to Hollywood” should just for once compare the two movies. And also understand that we are no longer in a ‘protectionist’ state, hence in an open market, competition is no longer with yourself.

    And oh, you are not “better than other Bollywood movies” just because you have a budget that enables you to shoot in foreign locations and a superstar…go see ‘Band Baaja Baarat’ for that matter…or even Dabangg…or even Shahrukh’s Chak De.

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  27. Sal/vikram: I get the “silly” part, but it was way too slow/turgid for any fun for me.

    KayKay: Yeah, when I was a kid all the dishoom-dishoom was kinda fun. But now I get terribly bored by our one-man-fights-many.

    Krishna Kumar: Maybe to you MI4 are Don 2 fall in the same bucket, but they are very different experiences for me. They may be the same *type* of film, but the execution is worlds apart.

    Aurora Vampiris: Even the action left me bored here. See, and I don’t know if “Don (the first part) had some of the best action sequences and fight choreography I’ve seen in an Indian film” matters any more. With Hollywood films being released here simultaneously, the “for an Indian film” logic, as Apu says, doesn’t hold water.

    Bhavesh: If you thought “action was jaw dropping… and story was brilliant and intelligent” then yes, I did see an entirely different film :-)

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  28. ya sir… looks like that. even i hated dhisoom dhisoom but in this one i didnt see much one-man fight. i loved the priyanka chopra and srk car chase, which i think was completely awesome and the shoot out in the bank wasnt one-manned.

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  29. Lets do an year end compilation of one-liners . I submit –

    “Dil hamesha left hota hai..par iske faisle hamesha right hote hain” – The Dirty Picture.

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  30. Indians have a tendency to run down their movies?Then why do senseless,money-wasting,time-wasting Indian films get so much money?Who has a name called DON?The word clearly signifies a crime lord.The first film HAD a lot of henchmen apart from stupid,pretty girls and Boman Irani.Style without substance is what the reviewer is talking about.And why do you want 3D for?Do you want to see Shah Rukh Khan’s heavily made up face in 3D?
    Man,you seem to be a fan of Indian movies.Best of luck!

    Cheers
    S

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  31. Absolutely agree with your review . I couldn’t believe i was watching a Farhan Akthar movie.The director capable of Dil Chahtai Hai . The movie was a disaster from the word go. I was more interested in Ra.One than i was ever in Don-2 and this is being a SRK fan . I have no qualms with commercial or masala fare . I went for this movie with the expectation of watching a full-on masala movie ,Where Don fights,Songs,Parades,Spits Dialogues. But i was shocked by the standard of this movie, I was so more interested in the popcorn than the movie in the second half.
    It was basically lazy writing from Farhan Akthar , When a audience who comes in expecting a full-on masala fare ,The Director just has to deliver it with aplomb . But here there is zero character development , Next to nothing plot , Zero drama (As Don is the most powerful start to finish ) , Bad direction and a terrible music score. The only saving grace of the movie is SRK , Who delivers his dialogues Don Style with perfection. Besides him only Lara Dutta walks away with any praise. Boman Irani’s acting and timing was so off the mark , His dramatic dialogues comes off as funny. Priyanka Chopra carried a SAD expression throught the movie, Dunno if she was sad for acting in this movie or hr personal troubles . This movie is also a testament to Rakesh Omprakash Mehra for making even Kunal Kapoor act ,Because he was awful in this movie.
    IMHO Farhan Akthar is better director than he is an Actor or a Singer . Though Lakshya was not a commercial success ,It was the closest any Indian Direcor came to making a honest army movie. His DCH was a game changer as it ushered in a freshness to Hindi cinema . Don was his weakest movie till Don 2 came along . This movie is so abysmal , it was shocking . My gripe is not because this is a commercial fare, My gripe is this movie doesn’t even scrape the surface of commercial fare. Even in commercial format , A movie requires basic ingredients to make it a good movie, Like a Story , Character Build – Up , Dialogues , Music , Acting & Drama being the most important ones. This movie lacks in all departments and it is unacceptable stuff from a director like Farhan Akthar . We have enough directors who excels at making mind numbing movies , I just hope Farhan Akthar doesn’t join that list . This movie was intended for SRK fans and even his hard-core fans will be disappointed by this movie.

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  32. It’s not meant for the adherents of Salman Khan’s school of cinema. Whiners like you can whine but it’s continues to make big profits for its distributors (72 cr India and 50 cr overseas after week 1). FYI a film doesn’t “flop” just because it doesn’t surpass Dabangg’s or Bodyguard’s box office figures.

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  33. Whoa, I wasn’t accusing you of anything BR. I didn’t mean to offend. But hey, I can’t help it – I’m one of those “action movie junkies.” I’ve watched every single Van Damme movie ever, at least 80% of John Woo’s filmography (as a director)… as well as every Akshay Kumar film with a “Khiladi” in its title.

    Nonetheless, when I said “Don had some of the best sequences I’ve seen in an Indian film,” I wasn’t insinuating that you should judge Indian films with a blinders on with respect to the rest of the world. I was actually insinuating that Indian films do not generally have good action sequences.

    Also, I like your review. At least you’ve been consistent – you’ve consistently heaped abuse on every unintelligent action film and I respect that. Fast Five, Expendables, this and so on. So all of the people on this website saying “I HATE YOU BR!” can go suck it. Or like the film. :D

    That said, I must confess, from what I’ve heard of Don 2 (I haven’t seen it yet), I’ll probably end up liking it. Now what does that say about me? :P

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  34. Oh and way too many SRK fanboys accusing everyone else of “Sallu fans” make me cringe to no end – got a problem with the review? Post a coherent criticism instead of shallow ad hominems.

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  35. 8½, Just stick to watching your Bhojpuri films and stop forcing your views on others. And 8½ doesn’t make you cool, wannabe.

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  36. I went in for a night show with a bunch of friends with minimal expectations and came out with the same feeling….super slick with nothing much else. However, I did have a good time watching Farhan splurge on the visuals and action. It must also have been something to do with my ears getting bombarded and the recliners quivering with the loud sound volume in the theatre which I haven’t experienced in quite a while. I gotta say, I’m getting used to the “gold class” …..might start missing it when I get back :-)

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  37. for the love of humankind, organize your blog and put the reviews in one place. the thing is like a shoddily edited film.

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