Don Struggles To Blend Two Completely Different Genres, Film Companion

Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Priyanka Arulmohan, S.J. Suryah, Samuthirakani, Soori

Director: Cibi Chakravarthi

When you watch Don directed by debutant Cibi Chakravarthi, you can see it is falling into two distinct parts. The first part runs for about two-thirds of the film’s length and the second occupies the rest. The first part is a full-fledged mindless comedy about students in an engineering college and the second is a serious sentimental drama trying its best to squeeze your tear ducts. Let’s look at the first part, Chakravarthy, known as Don, is played by Sivakarthikeyan — enjoyable. He is joined occasionally by Angayarkanni played by Priyanka Mohan. They were paired last in their outing Doctor (2021) directed by Nelson. SJ Surya plays the head of the college while Samuthirakani plays Don’s father.

The first part as I said before is a comedy. A track which is a law in itself. Imagine a bunch of college students going on a long picnic. What do you expect them to do? Simple, they’ll make an ass of themselves playing what is colloquially known as mokka jokes (bad/poor jokes) and teasing each other with no logic. This kind of ribaldry can take you back to the Marx brothers followed by guys like Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, and Kevin Hart who just make fools of themselves and you just watch them and laugh it off. One of the most memorable films of this genre will be a wonderful film by CV Sridhar called Kadhalikka Neramillai (1964) dealing with unemployed young guys trying to date rich girls. One of them is a character played by Nagesh who wants to be a film director and proves to his father that he is worthy enough. Nobody takes him seriously but the romance still happens and all is well.

 

Recently we had 3 idiots (2009), a college comedy where nobody takes themselves too seriously and the film still goes on to become a very strong critique of the education system in India, especially in the higher education echelons. With such precedence available, Don sadly takes itself too seriously. Firstly, blasting out at engineering colleges, their unqualified teachers and their greedy owners are coming a bit too late in our times. We have over 21,000 seats going empty in Tamil Nadu engineering colleges alone. The manhole lid is opened. The system just stinks coupled with an outdated ridiculous JEE (Joint Entrance Examination). Studying in such colleges makes no sense for it is just a huge real estate proposition.

Back to the film, the problem is simple. I can imagine debutant director Cibi Chakravarthi going to the producers and explaining the sad stories of helpless parents, clueless students and hapless faculty, bluffing their way to getting an engineering degree. But with Sivakarthikeyan coming in the lead, they would’ve felt his comic talents, dancing capabilities and dialogue deliveries should be highlighted with lots of junior artists, dancers and big sets thrown in. It becomes a perfect recipe for a blockbuster.

Also Read: Don Movie Review: Sivakarthikeyan Sells The Hell Out Of A Vapid Nostalgia Trip

The first part is indeed quite hilarious with all its mokka jokes. A courageous Sivakarthikeyan shaves off his beard and moustache to look like an 11th-grade kid. The villainous students get bashed up by two faculty members, one fat and one small, who get recorded on a mobile camera slamming their boss man, and when blackmailed, they break down seeking apologies from the students. Viewers are ready to lap it all so long as you’re driving on the goofy side of the road. The trouble begins when the film hits the second part switching lanes while heading towards some conclusion. Suddenly the second part becomes very melodramatic. Possibly, it is because it is rooted in the original script written by Cibi Chakravarthi and it catches the audience completely unaware. I can still hear the audience clapping, whistling and howling in the first part suddenly going silent. Some were even giggling hearing all those moralistic speeches.

 

You know, that’s where the story literally hits its nail on its own two feet, killing its own momentum. I don’t want to get into the story details here. You see it or imagine it. The problem is very simple. It is very difficult to weld together two completely different genres when you don’t have the right technique. The two hours normally demand that you stick to the path you’ve taken, to the genre you’ve worked with. If you ask me what was most memorable for me in the film, I would only recollect the song sequences. The first one ‘Jalabula Jung’ is a kind of tribute to Thalapathy Vijay’s style where he goes very beautifully and ‘Private Party’, the one with angels and guys dressed in animal costumes in an overcrowded kindergarten set gives our poor heroine Priyanka Mohan a little glamorous moment, thanks to choreographer Shobi Master. The background score as usual is predictably unimaginative. Cinematography by KM Bhaskaran is equally bland with most frames looking like composed on a TV serial mode in a hurry. 

As a reviewer, it does not matter to me whether I was tickled to laugh anywhere in the film or not and the fact is I could hear the large millennial crowd whistling, cheering and howling away. So you go and try it out, either you shall howl with them or hear them howling.

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