Don review: A tedious affair that doesn't even try
Don is a film about pursuits. The hero is after his calling, and we, the audience, are after an entertaining film. The hero succeeds, we aren't as lucky.
Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Priyanka Arul Mohan, SJ Suryah, Samuthirakani
Director: Cibi Chakaravarthi
Music director: Anirudh
Synopsis: Chakravarthy, an unruly college student, rejects academic success and aspires to carve his niche by discovering his gifts.
The patience of an audience tends to wear thin if a film's story lacks novelty. It wears thinner if the difference between technical strengths and narrative weaknesses is blaring. Cibi Chakaravarthi's Don belongs to the latter category.
Don opens on a serious note with Chakravarthy (Sivakarthikeyan), a well-to-do individual in his late 20s, getting ready for an arduous return to his alma mater. Taking the road is the only option that his compatriots advise against. Why does he want to go there on time braving the weather and bad roads is the question Don tries to answer in a runtime of three hours.
Trouble starts brewing right when the flashback kicks off and it falls short of building on the initial curiosity. Dullness sets in when Samuthirakani is introduced as a curmudgeonly father who holds back on the love that he has for his son. It’s a role that Samuthirakani can literally sleepwalk through. Sivakarthikeyan is the truant scion who in the middle of his adventures in school and college strives to discover what he is really interested in. Father has his way as always and shoves his son into an engineering college against his will. The college on display can't be found even on Mars, where the college advertises that its alumni would be resourceful when everything else fails. Fans have long brought into the Kollywood idea of an idealistic college, so that might not be a problem.
The problem with Don is, Cibi misses the mark by a long shot both in the serious and comedy aspects. Unable to create an emotional gravitas akin to Srikanth-Naren from Nanban, he falls back on comedy which doesn't get much support from Bala Saravanan, 'Mirchi' Vijay and Shivangi.
The director visibly struggles in deciding how to treat his film, something that campus entertainers like Attakathi (where nothing is really serious) and Meesaiya Murukku (where we sympathise with the protagonist's needs) have perfectly cracked. Priyanka looks charming and cute but has very less to offer to the film.
The repeated use of contrivance deprives the audience of an opportunity to connect with the characters. Take the dialogues for instance, "yeradha Kovil illa", "kovam illa aana varutham" like lines reflects the imbalance between technicalities and ideas. This is not to say emotions do not work anymore, it's schmaltz that won't work. When it comes to emotions, keeping it simple and organic is the key. The debut director has conceptualised too many artificial situations in this film.
Don’s cinematography is commendable, and the songs are staged picturesquely. But depicting the Taj Mahal in Jaipur is a sign that someone hasn’t done his or her homework. Anirudh, the pillar of strength in SK's films, is surprisingly absent in the background score. Don, in a nutshell, is a film about pursuits. The hero is after his calling, and we, the audience, are after an entertaining film. The hero succeeds, we aren't as lucky.