Review: Don - The Chase Begins Again (2006)

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal
Director: Farhan Akhtar
Country: India
Genre: Action | Comedy | Crime
Official Trailer: Here

With the imminent release of Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan’s Don 2: The Chase Continues, the time is right to revisit Don: The Chase Begins Again, the picture to which Don 2 is, as can be easily determined, the sequel. Don itself has historical precedent, being a remake of the 1978 Amitabh Bachchan classic of the same name (and to a lesser extent, the 1980 Tamil remake Billa, starring the legendary Superstar Rajnikanth.) The attempt to remake Don alone was a declaration by Shahrukh Khan that he was a star of the same caliber as Bachchan and Rajnikanth, which is to say, one of the greats in the history of Indian cinema. That audacity alone would have made Don: The Chase Begins Again an “event movie,” even were it not for Shahrukh Khan’s star power.

As for the movie itself, Don: The Chase Begins Again is an engrossing, near-epic tale with all the flash and pizazz money can buy, and features—sure enough—magnetic lead performances by Shahrukh Khan in two roles: one is Don, a slick, lethal (and lethally brilliant) Kuala Lumpur-based lieutenant in a pan-Asian drug syndicate. The other is Vijay, a street singer in India who happens to bear an uncanny physical resemblance to Don. This comes into play when, after the police chase leaves Don rather indisposed, Deputy Commissioner D’Silva (Boman Irani) calls upon Vijay to assume Don’s identity, under the pretense that he’s lost his memory, that he might provide the police with enough information on the drug organization to bring it down. Of course, things are not that simple. There is the beautiful Roma (Priyanka Chopra), seeking revenge against Don for her brother. There is the father (Arjun Rampal) of a street child whom Vijay looks after, seeking revenge against D’Silva, whose insistence on following the letter of the law led to his imprisonment and for the care of his son to fall to Vijay. Then, at the film’s intermission, things get really complicated.

While supporting players like Rampal and Irani are able to sustain the brief sections of the picture in which its star is elsewhere,  this is very much Shahrukh Khan’s picture. His (and to a slightly lesser extent Priyanka’s) star power is what makes the story, even at its most double-, triple-, and quadruple-crossing, a grabber. Of Shahrukh’s various personae, Invincibly Cool Shahrukh works the best here, with Humble Ordinary Funny Guy Shahrukh (an acquired taste in most of his films, as he tends to lay it on a bit thick) only intermittently hitting the mark; most of the picture is spent in the relatively happy medium of Earnest, Determined Shahrukh, a compelling variation that generally makes the last hour of his movies at the very least tolerable and at best quite wonderful. He is a movie star before he is an actor, as previous indicates, but one of the world’s finest, and in Don: The Chase Begins his star shines very bright indeed. Co-star Priyanka Chopra’s does as well; her vengeful Roma is as lovely as she is deadly. However, Kareena Kapoor’s luminous guest appearance (and mindboggling gold dress) early on threatens to outshine Priyanka (and, arguably, does; this is more a testimonial of how good Kareena is than any shortcomings on Priyanka’s part.)

The increasingly convoluted story requires very close concentration to follow, particularly after intermission, though it never degenerates into complete incomprehensibility, and after intermission come the picture’s two best songs, the compelling, disco-influenced “Aaj Ki Raat” (whose choreography interweaves seamlessly with a surprising plot point) and the completely plot-superfluous but delightful (and one of two songs from the 1978 film) “Khaike Paan Banaraswala.” The picture’s conclusion comes as a genuine surprise, and while a bit implausible, so too is nearly everything leading up to it. Director Farhan Akhtar has a good touch with this kind of pop, escapist material, staging action that is just a hair cooler than anything normal human beings can do but not so absurd as to take the audience out of the picture. If Don: The Chase Begins Again has a weakness (or two), it is in having perhaps one plot twist too many and perhaps being just the slightest bit too long. Neither of these prevent Don: The Chase Begins Again from being a splendidly satisfactory blockbuster, though the repeated use throughout this review of the remake’s whole title should underscore that it is a radically different creature from the Amitabh Bachchan iteration, the one true Don.

The title antihero is compelling enough (to say nothing of Shahrukh Khan), and the sense of style of (returning) director Akhtar sufficient to create a great deal of interest in the coming sequel; not to mention, even as definitive as the ending of this picture seems, there are surely any number of truly surprising twists yet to come.

84/100 ~ GREAT. With all the flash and pizazz money can buy, Shahrukh Khan’s charisma carries this slick, twisty blockbuster to a truly surprising finale.

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NYC Film Critic. Danny Bowes is a NYC-based filmmaker and blogger (at He reviews science-fiction/fantasy movies for, and theater for, and is a former contributor to

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