Don: The Chase Begins Again

The trailer for Don 2 is out and I was impressed enough by it to check out the earlier Don: The Chase Begins Again. Directed by Farhan Akhtar, it is based on the original Don starring Amitabh Bachchan. I had not seen that movie either, though I was familiar with the song Khaike Pan Banaraswala.

The movie is built around two rival gangsters Singhania and Vardhan who are into drug smuggling. No one has ever seen the face of Vardhan, but the cops know that Singhania uses Don (Shahrukh Khan), an infamous gangster working from Malaysia to get his work done. Cop D’Silva is hot on the heels of capturing Don, when he is injured in an accident. D’Silva uses this situation to inject a look-alike of Don named Vijay to infiltrate the drug network. Vijay successfully embeds himself into the gang and with his help D’Silva starts to kill off gangsters. All is not what it seems when Vijay and D’Silva start discovering each other’s identities.

For a Bollywood thriller, the story of (the original) Don is quite intriguing. Farhan Akhtar’s Don is shot completely in Malaysia and looks great. Playing the panache of Don is easy work for SRK. Boman Irani plays his role effortlessly, surprising the viewer with his twist. Priyanka Chopra and Isha Koppikar are mostly wasted in their roles. Don features songs from the original movie in addition to some new ones. The only song that really hooked me was Aaj Ki Raat, which I had loved on the soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire. This one is a real earworm! Don has everything going for it, but fails miserably in its length and pace. 3 hours is too long for a 2006 Bollywood movie and the lethargic pace adds to the torture. If Farhan can edit this down to a tight 2 hour movie, Don will be an entertaining watch.

Dil Chahta Hai (दिल चाहता है)

“Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you can hardly catch it going” said Tennesse Williams. Dil Chahta Hai (दिल चाहता है) was released 10 years ago in 2001 when me and my friends were (finally!) at the end of our college days and our futures looked bright and happy. Colored by that lens, Dil Chahta Hai, or DCH as we came to call it, became the definitive movie for a lot of us. I watched DCH again recently and it was quite a different experience, though I could clearly see why DCH had felt like our movie in the past.

Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna play three rich kids caught in that carerfree twilight zone between college and real life. Aaamir is a prankster who is aloof of love. Saif is innocent and confused about love. Akshaye is the serious type and has fallen in love with an older woman. After a memorable Goa trip, the trio have a spat and Aamir moves away to Australia. Real life catches up with him and he discovers love in Preity Zinta, but is not able to express it. Predictably, his friends return to help him in the act.

Dil Chahta Hai was the debut for director (and now actor) Farhan Akhtar. Though dealing with a standard story, it is told remarkably well with flashbacks. Acting and cinematography are good, but the best memories from this movie are its music. Songs by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, spun around the poignant poetry of Javed Akhtar. Though Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe gets all the airplay, I personally love the depth of the lyrics in Dil Chahta Hai and Tanhayee. I only need to listen to the title track to open the dam of memories of carefree college days. Chamkeele Din indeed! 😐 In the 10 years since DCH, what has not really aged well is the length of the movie. At 3 hours, it now seems tortuously slow and unnecessarily long drawn out. Farhan should probably create a shorter director’s cut edition sometime. In the year of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a quarter-life-crisis-movie by Farhan’s sister, Dil Chahta Hai still remains a good movie to recollect those times! 😀

Karthik Calling Karthik

Rating: 3/4 (A watchable gem of mystery, except for its length)

There is not a boring moment in Karthik Calling Karthik, a new movie starring the ever-interesting Farhan Akhtar. Karthik (Farhan Akhtar) is a shy guy who is taken advantage of by everyone. To make matters worse, Shonali (Deepika Padukone), the hot chick at his office does not even notice him. When Karthik gets pushed too far, he decides to end his life. But, he is saved by a mysterious caller on his new phone. The caller identifies himself as Karthik too and seems to know everything about his life. The caller peps up Karthik and helps him succeed at work and with Shonali. Just when things are hunky-dory, Karthik reveals his secret caller to Shonali. This angers the caller and he starts to wreak havoc on Karthik’s life. Who is this mysterious caller and how does Karthik get rid of him?

Karthik Calling Karthik creates an intriguing plot based on a teeny little trick. The clue is hidden right there in the movie title itself. Just how that happens is revealed towards the end. The movie is fast and fun while Karthik is bullied and he hits back with the help of his mysterious caller. But, everything gets glacially slow once the caller starts taking his revenge. This half of the movie could have easily been cut further in half. Farhan Akhtar is eminently watchable, with his expressive face and raspy voice. Deepika, not so much of acting, but just a pretty girl. The music is peppy, but forgettable, no track or melody you will recall after the movie. The production quality of the movie is neat, the visuals are all nicely composed. Karthik Calling Karthik is a watchable gem of mystery, except for its length.

Rock On!!

After sampling Farhan Akhtar‘s acting (and singing) debut Rock On!!, I was not exactly eager to see it. Friends on a Saturday evening convinced me otherwise. Farhan and Arjun Rampal are two of the four members of a rock band. The rock band falls apart just after they win a chance to record an album. 10 years later, the band members are stuck in mundane jobs when Farhan’s wife discovers his old rock photos and calls for a reunion of the band. That slowly leads them to come together for one last act.

This will be the last time I say this — Hindi movies are now just as technically good as Hollywood ones. Casting, script, styling and cinematography are all top notch here just as with most movies I have been seeing over the last couple of years. Rock On!! is one long rock act, do not make the mistake I did — judging this movie based on the music. You will love the music after you have seen the movie! The live performances have all been shot very well. My feet were tapping all through, yes the silly lyrics (thanks to the subtitles) really work in the movie. The story is predictable, but I doubt it has been done in Hindi before. There is good humour all through and the movie never slows or feels boring. Farhan has acting chops, especially the lost-soul-like scenes. Farhan’s grating voice actually works with the songs, but sounds odd when he speaks loudly or shouts. Rock On!! is a fun movie that should not be missed! 🙂