In remaking the film from a new perspective, Farhan Akhtar wanted to give a contemporary style and treatment to the original film and make a film that he believed would be perfectly suited to modern times. The director later bought the rights and conceived his adaptation as an homage to the original film and its cast and crew, and to the 1970s era in general. He co-wrote the screenplay with his father, Javed Akhtar, who had also written the original script with Salim Khan. He kept the basic plot but introduced some changes that included an international setting and a different ending. Principal photography commenced in Mumbai, before moving to Malaysia, where 80% of the filming was done. The soundtrack was composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, with lyrics by Javed Akhtar.
The illegal drug trade based in Kuala Lumpur is booming. A team headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police De Silva (Boman Irani) is sent to the city to target the operations of Singhania (Rajesh Khattar) and capture his manager, "Don" (Shah Rukh Khan). Singhania is one of the two lieutenants of a deceased kingpin; the other is Vardhan, whose whereabouts are unknown.
After Ramesh (Diwakar Pundir), one of Don's close associates, decides to leave the gang, Don kills him. Later, Ramesh's fiancée Kamini (Kareena Kapoor) decides to help the police, but she is also killed. Planning to avenge her brother and his fiancée, Roma (Priyanka Chopra) infiltrates Don's gang. Don is injured and falls into a coma while trying to flee from the police. De Silva finds a look-alike named Vijay (Shah Rukh Khan) and asks him to join his mission so the police can get close to Singhania. Vijay agrees when De Silva promises to admit Deepu (Tanay Chheda), a boy Vijay looks after, to a school in Kuala Lumpur. Meanwhile, Jasjit (Arjun Rampal), Deepu's father, just released from prison, plans to kill De Silva to avenge his own wife's death.
Vijay is admitted to hospital, where Dr. Ashok Gilwani gives him scars identical to Don's. When Don suddenly dies, the masquerade begins. Vijay, as Don, joins the gang in Kuala Lumpur. De Silva asks Vijay to find a computer disc containing details about the cartel and bring it to him. When Vijay finds it, Roma attempts to kill him, but De Silva tells her about his plan, and she agrees to help him. Vijay hands over the disc to De Silva. When De Silva murders Singhania, the police arrive and arrest Vijay. De Silva is killed in the shoot-out, which is unfortunate for Vijay because De Silva was the only person who could prove that he is not the real Don. Having discovered his true identity, Don's associates turn against Vijay and the group engage in a fight. Don escapes and reconciles with Roma to recover the disc and prove his innocence.
Meanwhile, Jasjit enters De Silva's apartment to wait for him and finds the disc. He receives a phone call saying that if he wants to see his son again, he will have to bring the disc to the men who are holding Deepu hostage. When he meets them, he learns that De Silva has been alive all along and is actually Vardhan, who was using Vijay to get close to his competitor. Later, Jasjit engage in a combat with Vijay but Deepu interrupts him, telling him about Vijay, who has been his guardian in Jasjit's absence. Jasjit teams up with Vijay and Roma and shares information about Vardhan's real identity. They come up with a plan. Jasjit arranges a meeting with Vardhan, but the trio have informed the Interpol.
In a combat, Vijay overpowers Vardhan and is about to kill him but is interrupted by Inspector Vishal Malik (Om Puri), who pleads with him to leave Vardhan, who is later arrested. Vijay is acquitted, and Roma confesses her love for Vijay when is about to be taken to the hospital. After Vijay calls Roma a "Junglee Billi" ("Wildcat") and the van takes Vijay away, a baffled Roma realise that he is actually Don as he had given her that nickname and informs Malik.
It is revealed that the real Don was alive, and was pretending to be Vijay the whole time. While in the hospital, Don had recovered quickly from his injuries, and had overheard Vardhan/De Silva's conversation with Vijay. After Vijay's operation, Don had gotten up from the room at a moment when Vardhan and Dr. Ashok were absent and gone to the room where Vijay lay. He had switched places with Vijay and taken Vijay off life support, causing him to die. It is also revealed that the disc Don had given to the police was fake. Now, with both Vardhan and Singhania removed from his path, Don becomes the master of the entire Asian drug dealing ring. Don reconnects with Anita (Isha Koppikar) at the airport and says half of his popular dialogue, "Don Ko Pakadna Mushkil Hi Nahi...." as the screen cuts to black.
The cast is listed below:Shah Rukh Khan as Don/VijayPriyanka Chopra as RomaArjun Rampal as Jasjeet AhujaBoman Irani as DCP De Silva, alias VardhanIsha Koppikar as AnitaOm Puri as Inspector Vishal MalikPawan Malhotra as NarangRajesh Khattar as SinghaniaTanay Chheda as DeepuSatyajit Sharma as Mystery manChunky Pandey as TejaSushma Reddy as GeetaDiwakar Pundir as RameshKareena Kapoor as Kamini
Farhan Akhtar conceived the idea to remake the iconic 1978 film of the same name after listening to a remixed version of a song from the original film. In early 2005, media started reporting that Akhtar was planning to remake the film, but rather than confirming the news, he revealed that though he was writing the screenplay based on the film, he would take the final decision after completing the script. The director co-wrote the film with his father, Javed Akhtar, who had also written the original film with Salim Khan.
Akhtar revealed that the reason behind the remake was a desire to give a new treatment to "a fantastic film which he enjoyed watching as a child", and create an adaptation that he thought would suit modern times. He found the film little ahead of its time. And, he thought so because of the narration, dialogue and the writing style, which he thought was very modern even for its time. Akhtar said "Don is the one film from that time that in my mind lends itself to being remade today. So today, when you adapt it, it fits very easily into a contemporary space. I think it fits into the modern sensibility of movie viewing." Additionally, he wanted to pay tribute to the stars and makers of the original film, the 1970s era in general, and the films made by Salim-Javed and Amitabh Bachchan.
In order to suit the modern sensibility, several changes were introduced. Akhtar changed a number of aspects of the climax as he felt the original ending was outdated for today's audiences. On the other hand, a number of elements from the original were retained in the new film, notably the background score, two songs, some dialogue, and some situations, all of which Akhtar believed were fine in the original, saying that not including them would be a crime.
Akhtar initially wanted Hrithik Roshan for the titular character, after having worked with him on their previous film Lakshya (2004). However, Akhtar felt that the character required a more mature actor, saying he wanted "a face that had seen the world and roughed it out". The director said that Roshan's innocence was not right for the role, and instead cast Shah Rukh Khan for the part that had been portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan in the 1978 film. Akhtar believed that Khan was the most suitable for the role, saying, "He has the personality, the style, the flair, the larger than life persona, the sense of humour and the sheer magnetism that this character requires".
In July 2005 Priyanka Chopra was cast to play Roma, a role originally played by Zeenat Aman. Akhtar found Chopra to be perfect for the role, saying, "There is a docile sensuality about her which suits the character". When he offered the role to her, she was excited to play the character and immediately agreed to do the film. Later that month Arjun Rampal and Isha Koppikar joined the cast. While Rampal was cast as Jasjit, played by Pran in the original, after Akshay Kumar turned down the role for being secondary, Kopikar was cast in a completely new role that was not in the original film. In August 2005 Kareena Kapoor was confirmed to appear in the song "Yeh Mera Dil", which had been performed by Helen in the original film.
Khan, Chopra, and Rampal underwent extensive martial arts training from an expert from the Shaolin Temple. The principal cast received training in different kinds of martial arts. Khan revealed that he had always wanted to look the way Amitabh Bachchan had in his films, but he said he gave his own interpretation to the role. After signing to do the film, Chopra was very excited, but a few days later, she became nervous, wondering if she would be able to do justice to the character. Having seen the original film as a teenager, Chopra avoided watching the film again as she did not wanted to imitate Zeenat Aman's portrayal of Roma. She made a conscious effort to give her own look and style to the character.
This was Chopra's first action role, and she was excited to the part, so she wanted to do all the stunts by herself. After Chopra decided to perform her own stunts, Akhtar revealed that he was happy as it gave him the scope to film the fight sequences from different angles. Rampal, in the role of Jasjit, said that he approached his character in a way similar to how Pran had played it in the original but with an emotional graph. Boman Irani, who plays DCP De Silva, a role performed by Iftekhar in the original film, revealed that he played the role according to what suited the script, but retained some of the dignity from that film.
Principal photography commenced in February 2006 in central Mumbai. Art direction was handled by Aradhana Seth, and the costumes were designed by Aki Narula. Akhtar chose K. U. Mohanan to handle the cinematography after having been impressed by his work in documentaries and commercials. This was Mohanan's first Hindi film as a film cinematographer. To give an authentic feel to the film, scenes were shot on a closed set in actual chawls in real locations. The film was also shot at Film City and Yash Raj Studios. Some filming was done in Paris in March over a three-day schedule.
The filming moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in April 2006 where the majority of the film was shot. 80% of the filming was done in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. In Malaysia, filming was done over the course of seventy days at 42 locations including KLCC, Kampung Baru, and Penchala Link, and included more than thousand extras, all of whom were selected following auditions. Additional filming was done in Singapore. Apparently, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad, who had previously declined even Hollywood films to be filmed in the Petronas Towers, gave his permission for the crew to film inside his personal office in the Towers. For a scene depicting a media ambush, several real-life journalists from India and Malaysia were hired.
The song "Yeh Mera Dil" was choreographed by Farah Khan. Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan agreed to choreograph the new version of the popular song "Khaike Paan Banaras Waala", which had been choreographed by her mentor P L Raj in the original film. The song was filmed in Malaysia on 13 May 2006 with Khan and Chopra. The dancing for other songs was choreographed by Prabhu Deva, Ganesh Hegde, and Rajeev Surti. Hollywood technician Angelo Sahin, the special Effects supervisor behind Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), and aerial stunt co-ordinator Joe Jennings, known for his work in films such as Charlie's Angels (2000), were hired for the action sequences.
The soundtrack was composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, with lyrics written by Javed Akhtar. The album contains eight songs: three original, two remakes of from the original film, a theme, a reprisal, and a remix of one of the three new songs. The vocals were performed by Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shankar Mahadevan, Alisha Chinai, Mahalakshmi Iyer, Sonu Nigam, and MIDIval Punditz. It was released on 26 August 2006 by T-Series.
The soundtrack received favourable reviews from music critics, who praised "Aaj Ki Raat", calling it "innovative" and the best song on the album. The recreation of songs from the original film, "Ye Mera Dil" and "Khaike Paan Banaraswala", received mixed comments. Joginder Tuteja from Bollywood Hungama gave the album a 4 out of 5, noting its success at surprising its listener, and wrote "Shankar Ehsaan Loy do exceedingly well with the soundtrack and establish their supremacy as the composer trio who can give their own even while rearranging the songs from the past." Planet Bollywood gave a rating of 6.5 out of 10, praising its lyrics and vocals, and termed "Aaj Ki Raat" as "the best song in the entire soundtrack". Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com was less impressed with the album, calling it "Snazzy, good mix" and writing "This lavish enterprise has a little bit of everything. An eclectic mix of old, new and everything in between; Don is an unusual presentation of old wine in new bottle."
The Don soundtrack album was the first Indian soundtrack to be released on iTunes on the same day of its launch or before the public release of physical copies. The music topped charts on a number of platforms in India. It was one of the best-selling Bollywood soundtracks of the year, with 1.5 million units sold according to Box Office India. The song "Aaj Ki Raat" was used by A. R. Rahman in his Grammy and Academy Award–winning soundtrack Slumdog Millionaire (2008).
Being a remake of an iconic film, and the starcast involved, Don was one of the most anticipated films of the year. The first look poster was released in late April 2006, which according to the media hinted at the kind of adaptation the film was going to be. This was followed by another poster in late July 2006, which also revealed the release date of the film. Following the poster reveals, the theatrical trailer was released in mid-September. Bollywood Hungama deemed it promising, writing that the "trendy accessories, sleek gadgets, lavish settings, expensive wardrobe and deadly action scenes build the framework of the new Don." To promote the film, the filmmakers teamed up with Hungama Digital Media Entertainment to launch a mobile game based on the film. It was the first Multiplayer online game launched for any Bollywood film. The filmmakers also launched popcorn holders of Don before the release film. An 80-page comic book was published and copies were given for free in multiplexes along with the tickets of the film.
In December 2005 UTV acquired the overseas rights of the film. Made on a budget of ₹380 million, Don was released worldwide on 20 October 2006 in 800 screens during the Diwali festive season, clashing with another high-profile Bollywood film Jaan-E-Mann. The film opened to excellent to very good response at the domestic box office, with an occupancy of 90 percent. After a first day opening of ₹46 million, the film grossed ₹141 million on its opening weekend. It also received a good opening in overseas markets with an opening weekend of over $2.2 million. On its opening weekend, the film grossed over ₹302 million worldwide. After its first week, the film took in more than ₹244 million in India. The film grossed $1.1 million in its first week in UK, while the total overseas first week earnings were more than $4.1 million. The film grossed ₹529 million worldwide at the end of first week. The film had a very good hold in its second week, and performed extremely well, even better than that week's new release and collections increased in several centres, with setting new second week highs. After its theatrical run, the film grossed over ₹7100 million in India, becoming the fifth highest-grossing Indian film of 2006, and was deemed a "hit". It also grossed over $7.8 million in the overseas territories and was declared a blockbuster. Worldwide, the film grossed over ₹1.06 billion (US$17 million) and was a major commercial success.
Distributed by T-series Home Entertainment domestically and Internationally by UTV, the film was released on DVDs on 5 December 2006 across all regions in a two-disc Collector's Edition pack in NTSC format, with several bonus content such as making of the film, bloopers, trailers, deleted scenes, and clap track. It also included a "Don Comic Book". A steel case limited edition DVD was released in January 2007 with the same bonus features. The VCD version was released at the same time. A single-disc DVD pack was also released later. The Blu-ray version was released on 27 April 2011.
Upon release, Don was generally well received by critics. Mayank Shekhar from Mumbai Mirror gave the film a rating of 4 out of 5 and wrote, "The former was a character-driven, intimate film, albeit a fairly slick thriller, mostly for its screenplay. The latter is a most updated Indian film of the action genre that always calculably concentrates on the new twists, and the turning points, both of which mostly seem cleverer than contrived; ably fitting pieces, the known characters, into a new domino." Raja Sen of Rediff.com gave a mixed review, saying that the film was "conventional and predictable", and complained that the director did not develop his characters. However, Sen was impressed by Chopra's performance, calling it "film's biggest surprise", and wrote, "Stepping into Zeenat Aman's shoes is a tough task, but she doesn't really waste time pretending to be the stunner's successor. Chopra handles her role with efficiency, looking every bit the competent woman of action – and a ravishing babe who fills out a skintight white jumpsuit deliciously. Roma is a hard part to play, but Priyanka has a no-nonsense air about her throughout the film. This is an actress willing to push herself, and has definite potential for screen magic. Not to mention a great smile."
Pratim D. Gupta of The Telegraph gave the film a positive review, noting that the director turned a formula "good defeats bad" film into a modern-day neo-noir film where "bad fights bad", and wrote, "The new Don is more of a remix than remake with the scratchy edges smoothened out with grunge grooves and blistering beats. Farhan changes the backdrop and the background and yet manages to keep the original sequences and lines." Gupta also praised the acting, "eye-catching locations", cinematography, and production design, and thought that the "breathtaking chase and action sequences" broke new grounds on Indian screens. Bollywood Hungama's Taran Adarsh rated the film a 3 out of 5, praising the performances of the lead actors and writing "Shah Rukh Khan does very well as Don. He enacts the evil character with flourish. But he fails to carry off the other role [Vijay] with conviction. It looks made up, it doesn't come natural to him at all. Priyanka Chopra carries off her part with 'lan. The stunt [when she rescues Khan] is bound to win her laurels."
Planet Bollywood gave a rating of a 7 out of 10, particularly praising the twist ending, and wrote, "The Don of the 21st century is stylish with flaws, yet, you do enjoy the experience of watching it in the cinema." While labelling the film a "disappointment", film critic Sukanya Verma questioned Akhtar's decision behind remaking such an important film. She further criticised Akhtar for taking a fairly simple but engaging storyline, strangling it mercilessly, and turning it into a shockingly unimaginative adaptation. Verma also found Khan to be inconsistent in the dual roles; however, she praised Chopra's portrayal of Roma, and wrote, "The seriousness with which Priyanka Chopra plays Roma is rather notable. She is a picture of restrained toughness and bubbling seduction." Giving a 1 out of 5, film critic Rajeev Masand panned the film, terming it an exercise in indulgence, and wrote, "Spiffily shot and stylishly packaged, the new Don may wear a new look, but what it's clearly lacking is the raw energy, the unpredictability of Chandra Barot's original thriller."
A sequel entitled Don 2, also directed by Akhtar, was released on 23 December 2011. Khan, Chopra, Irani, and Puri reprise their roles as Don, Roma, De Silva alias Vardhan, and Malik, respectively.