A piece of criticism that most of Sivakarthikeyan's films - including Manam Kothi Paravai, Remo and Rajini Murugan - have received over the years is that the hero is celebrated for stalking and pursuing the heroine despite repeated rejections.
However, we are in for a pleasant surprise with his latest film Don. His character refrains from disturbing the girl when he realises that she doesn't reciprocate his love. He even says it out loud, stressing that he wants to be a good guy who doesn't like to chase a woman when she is not interested in him. And that felt like a mature answer to the criticism.
Helmed by Cibi Chakravarthy, Don stars Priyanka Arul Mohan, SJ Suryah, Samuthirakani, RJ Vijay, Bala and Shivangi in key roles.
The story revolves around Chakravarthy aka Don (Sivakarthikeyan), who is on a quest to discover his passion after he is forced to join an engineering college like most Indian students. He fights two villains: his father (played by Samuthrakani) and the college’s disciplinary head Boominathan (SJ Suryah). Chakravarthy has full support from his fellow students.
What are his dreams? Can he succeed after fighting against the strict parents and professors? He embarks on a journey of self-realisation, and that's what most of the film is about.
Don delves into the toxic upbringing that Indian parents engage in to make their kids successful. They don't realise that the pressure is scarring the children for life.
It also talks about how the flawed education system only focuses on marks, discouraging students to even engage in extra curricular activities.
Towards the beginning we see Don's dad through his eyes, making us feel that the latter is the same toxic parent. However, towards the end, the director shifts gears to make us empathise with the father and understand the reasons behind his stiffness.
The film makes an honest attempt to represent the real intent on why Indian parents are the way they are.
It shows how they are from the generation that has struggled so much that they are hesitant to explicitly express the love for their kids. We also realise that they feel they are not financially sound to realize their kids’ dreams. In the desperation to provide a better future, parents eventually tend to kill the passion of their children because they want them to opt for safer careers. The film connects with you at an emotional level.
The love sequences between Don and Angayarkanni (Priyanka Mohan) are slightly cringey, but mostly cute. The songs by Anirudh Ravichander add to the essence of the movie.
The humour is on spot most of the time, but there are some miserable jokes too. However, the Sivakarthikeyan and Suri combo reminds us of the good old days of his previous film, Varuthapadaadha Valibar Sangam.
If you are someone who looks for logic in every scene, the film will subtly question you with, ”Do you really want to find logic when the intention is to give you a commercial entertaining drama?”. That’s a valid point and it does help in explaining the absurd yet funny jokes.
As an audience, we cannot buy into the intent completely as there are moments of acute exaggeration.
For example, even though Don challenges the most powerful professor in his college, throws tantrums, hacks official computers, forges marksheets and leads meaningless student strikes, he still manages to get away easily.
Don has it all - comedy, action, love, emotions, social message and a truck load of cliches too - but it's still bearable. I love how Sivakarthikeyan churns out entertaining films that follow these lines from his song in Seemaraja - “Aracha maava arachalum, athukkum venum oru thiramai”. It loosely translates to - "Even if it is too cliched, you need talent to make it likeable and sellable".
Don is running in theatres.