Director: Farhan Akhtar
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta, Boman Irani, Kunal Kapoor
Storyline: Don is a smartass. Don is a smartass. Don is a smartass. Repeat statement scene after scene.
Bottomline: Ra.One was the smarter SRK film this year.
Imagine this. You’re in prison. You haven’t eaten all day. And someone tells you: You have fifteen minutes to come up with a script for the Don sequel. And you can walk free.
No time to think. You start with the punchlines first. Obviously, you begin with the epic one that the 1978 film made popular. “Don Ko Pakadna Mushkil Hi Nahin, Na Mumkin Hai”. You come up with a couple of good ones. But since you’re running out of time, you just fill in Punchline Nos. 13, 26 and 49 with the same “Don Ko Pakadna” line.
Too much pressure. But you are in prison and need to get out.
Fine, put that in the first act. Don is in prison. But wait, he can’t get caught according to the best punchline you have. Ok, so he got himself in.
But why? You don’t know. Ok, so you write “Don smiles mysteriously.”
Ten minutes left.
You continue scribbling… Don is in prison. But Don has many a dushman (arch-enemy in Don-speak) there. Ok, let’s say Don has come to break one of his enemies out of prison. Say Vardhan (Boman Irani). Why? You don’t know. So you write “Don smiles mysteriously.” You can think of the why later.
Now you are really stuck.
All you can think of is prison and prison food. Stale fish served last week had inmates down with food poisoning. Brainwave. Engineer food-poisoning and break jail.
All that thought of food is getting you hungry. What you would not give for a plate of leftovers. A brainwave again. Don wants to steal plates. Plates? Five minutes left.
Focus. YOU want a plate of food. Don probably just wants to steal plates used to make money. How? Write “Don smiles mysteriously.”
Think harder. Don’s a chase film. You can’t just change genre and make it a heist film. That would be blasphemy. But you need to get out before prison changes the genre of your life to gay porn.
Fourteen minutes are up. Don steals the plates. How? Action scenes. Let action director figure that out. Also add, “Don smiles mysteriously.” Lame big shocking twist. Obvious one but time up. The End.
So you smile mysteriously and hand over your script. You’re free.
It turns out that Farhan Akhtar who has ambitions of making a slick looking film like Ocean’s Eleven with stunts from Mission Impossible has already started shoot before he’s read your script.
Since it’s the sequel, the actors already know what they are doing. Shah Rukh Khan walks in suits, reels of slow motion shots are canned and bottles of hair gel are sacrificed, take after take.
Lara Dutta shakes it to the tune of the title track of the previous film since she’s been told the song will be just like the old one.
Priyanka knows she has to say all her lines exactly the same way when she speaks to Don. In a tone that says: “I want to do you. I want to do you now.”
SRK loves the punchlines. They glorify him. Wait till Sallu hears them.
“Let me do it again,” says Shah Rukh after every line. “A punchline needs to be delivered in style.” But Mr. Khan, there are some 50 punchlines in here, says the assistant director. “It’s ok. They love me,” he opens his arms wide, smirks and delivers it like Punchline No. 51 looking at us.
They are at the scene where Don can just trigger off an explosion and escape but that would mean SRK doesn’t get a chance to say a good line. “Well, we have to shoot Roma then,” says the action director. Bang. Roma is shot. And timing presents itself. “Little does Don’s Dushman know that before he can make a move, Don has already made his next,” says Don. Boom.
The editor wishes his studio exploded and didn’t have to put this together. But he’s getting a fat cheque. He does his job to the best of his ability and is almost done when he hears that line “Don Ko Pakadna Mushkil hi nahin…”
Screw it, says the editor, stops it right before SRK could finish the line and walks out.
End credits slapped together with a song recorded even before the script was written. The film releases. And a critic scratches his head wondering if he should take this cheesy action entertainer seriously enough to dissect or analyse it.
“Ok, whatever I can type in 15 minutes,” he says.
This review originally appeared here.