The Music of "Don" - a re-iterative mixed bagRemaking Chandra Barot's Don begged the question: Why? Don was a great entertainer, not really a great classic that would offer any particular revisitation pleasures. But entertainers like The Italian Job and Ocean's 11 are precisely the ones that have been remade to varying degrees of success. So well, let's move on now that the film is almost here.
The music, released last week, is by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, with whom Farhan Akhtar has enjoyed great success in his previous two films. The music is in this film (official T-Series listing) consciously reuses the greatly popular music from the original, which is a bit of a thankless job. Expectations are notoriously hard to fulfill, you want to add a modern touch to the music, and it takes just a few slips for people to wag their finger at you. Unfortunately, I'm going to wag a couple of fingers myself.
1. "Main Hoon Don" (Shaan): Studded enticingly with the well-known Don theme from the original., this song is excellently done. I think I prefer the slower remix versions in general, and this prefers to create an air of mystique - this is after all "Don" (re-)introducing himself. Nice homage, despite the slightly puerile lyrics ("bahut khatarnaak huu.n mai.n"!)
2. "Yeh Mera Dil" (Sunidhi Chauhan): Characteristic twanging (what should it be called?) from the original kicks off the song that many people who follow Kareena Kapoor's career closely are interested in (Why? Because she gets bumped off soon after :-) ). The song soon hits what can only be described as DJ Aqeel/Akbar Sami territory. A fast beat and a synth progression that I'm sure has already graced(!) several GaNapati visarjan ceremonies in the past are the only major variations from the original. Sunidhi Chauhan is mercifully restrained in this re-rendition and good on the ears. Clearly, if you have access to the original Asha song, then replace this with that. The question "why" comes back.
3. "Moriya Re" (Shankar Mahadevan): A mainstream GaNapati Hindi film song after quite a while (was the last in "Vaastav"?). Not much to note about this strictly functional song (who knows? perhaps background to either the standard gangster felicitation or a chase)- this gets a little better on multiple hearings, but not by much.
4."Khaike Paan Banaraswala" (Udit Narayan & Shahrukh Khan): Starts with the same kind of Bhojpuri (am I right about the dialect?) lyrics that got the original Kishore Kumar to a spectacular start, only the lyrics are a little different here (the rest of the song is identical). The opening gets quite interesting, but then the revenge of the DJs hits you again. For this song is again the case of old wine set to a disco beat. Painful, because the original song was all about how Vijay can relax with co-fraternals amidst the frenetic chase (the song is actually a bad insert in the midst of all the action and meant to relieve the tension, but the combination of Kishore, Amitabh in those black flares and the "Thumkaas" of Zeenat Aman worked). Hopefully the local panwaalaa now also has an octopad stowed away in these modern times. Shah Rukh Khan competently "speaks" out his lyrics in the middle, but that shouldn't prevent you going back to "bha.ng kaa ra.ng jamaa ho chak-aa-chak" instead of this particular "punar-janam".
5. "Aaj ki Raat" (Alisha Chinoy, Mahalaxmi & Sonu Nigam): But despair not. S-E-L redeem themselves with this really wonderful song; what seemed to me to be a tribute to many things. First, the 70s traditional leading-up-to-climax song with the lyrics hinting at things to come (in the mould of "Yamma Yamma" - "Shaan" and others). Most immediately, this song reminded me of two songs, both involving Amitabh and Parveen Babi: the opening bassline and rhythm is easily reminiscent of the wonderful R.D. Burman song "Pyaar karane waale" ("Shaan" again), while the overall song melody is akin to Bappi Lahiri's equally great "Raat Baaki" ("Namak Halaal"). Great slow melody and one that S-E-L should be proud of (though you could slot it in with their numbers of "It's the time to Disco"). The singers do a good job and I enjoyed listening to this one.
6. "Don The Theme" (Instrumental): This is probably the track that plays alongside the titles, judging by how the theme unfolds. Very classy variation on the original theme track.
7. Don Revisited (Midival Punditz): By now, if you're not experiencing a serious overdose of the Don theme then take the wax out of your ear, pal. Featuring some of the cult dialogues from the original (spoken here by "Main Hoon Khan") and a cameo by the question "Why?" again.
8. Main Hoon Don (Fncinternational Mix): So now, this is a remix of a revisitation of the original. (When our friends the DJs make their own remix of this, we shall finally experience stack overflow). This time, you start to hallucinate "Why?" with the accompaniment of the "Don" theme. You really wish you had wax in your ear this time.
Before I saw the trailers, my faith in Farhan Akhtar had been shaken on news of this production. The smoke-effects that caused Dr. Ramadoss to send smoke out of various orifices have somewhat restored my faith in this being a fairly decent tribute to the 70s Hindi films that we all enjoyed (though you can't see the fingers crossed behind my back). Though IMO, the best way to pay homage to these films is to leave them alone and buy the DVD. Hopefully, we won't be made to feel we should have watched this tepid Dutch not-a-remake film also called Don.
(Disclaimer: While people were being apprehensive about "Lakshya" last time around, I was quite confident FA'd pull it off.)