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The 73rd Berlin International Film Festival will take place from Thu, Feb 16, 2023 - Sun, Feb 26, 2023
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Bollywood godfather to screen at Berlin

By Alex Deleon

For the second time in three years a major Bollywood "blockbuster" starring top Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) will have a high profile opening at Berlin.  The title of the new film is "DON 2, The King is Back", and is directed by star director Farhan Akhtar. In 2012 Mr. Khan was here for the world's premier of "My Name Khan" --a combination political film and love strory set in the USA. The subject of that one was actually anti-Islamic backlash in America post 9/11 and the subtext was "My Name is Khan -- but I am Not a Terrorist".  SRK played a lover with a physical handicap who is mistaken for a terrorist and marries a beauitiful Indian divorcee in San Francisco. The film was not very well received here at Berlin but went on to become one of the big hits of 2010 in the Indian film world.

Shahrukh Khan, now 46, has been the top drawer leading man of Bollywood films for nearly two decades playing a variety of roles from Bad Guys early in his career to mostly romantic leads later. Arguably the most powerful figure in the Bombay film world Shah is often referred to in the Indian media as "The King of Bollywood", a role which he seems to relish. He established his own production company, "Red Chilies" which has lately gone in for over the to gigantic productions, not all of which have been successful. 

 Not your typical handsome leading man, Khan with his thick shock of unruly hair, hawk like beak, and winning dimpled smile projects a devil may care confident romantic image, part mischievous good-bad boy and part energetic ballsy hero.   Five years ago he sort of remade himself in the image of a Don or Gangland "Godfather" in a film called "Don 2."

which was actually a remake of a 1978 hit "Don", starring Amitabh Bachchan, who was then the king of Bollywood at the height of his "angry young man" period.  The new Don was reworked, highly streamlined, and set, of all places, in Kuala Lumpur, with action scenes on the sky scraping Malaysian towers, then the tallest buildings in the world.

It was more of an adaptation than a total remake, but it was so spectacular featuring sexy leading lady Priyanka Chopra and a hot item number by Kareena Kapoor, plus some incredible state of the art special effects, that it went on to do very big business and established actor Farhan Khan as a director to be reckoned with.

Immediately there was talk of a sequel, but Farthan turned to other pursuits, actring , music, etc.  until he was persuaded to do the Don followup  after a gap of five years.  It was decided to film some of the key sequences right here in Berlin, where Mr. Khan has a considerable fan following, so this should add some extra spice to the mix.


"Don 2" (which is, in a sense Don 3) was released on Dec. 23 for the Christmas season and is already a blockbuster in India. An interesting sidelight is that Farhan's sister, Zoya Akhtar, is also a budding director and her film "Zindagi na mileya dobara" (Life doesn't happen twice") won a best film award at one of the many awards ceremonies on the Bombay calendar and featured her brother Farhan, who won a "best dialogues" award for his snappy one liners in this highly popular comedy. 

Bollywood is more a family affair than ever but the Bollywood honchos are pressing for some kind of breakthrough to the western markets which have pretty much ignored them until now. With  death defying "Godfather" Shah Rukh Khan leaping out of the 37th story of a Berlin building in one scene and breathtakingly beautiful Priyanka Chopra giving him the femme fatale treatment in recognizable Berlin locales, hopes are high that this "Indian Godfather" may provide the impetus for wider recognition.

Alex, Berlin


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Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
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