Thursday, September 3, 2009

Billa: Don - Telugu Style

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably noted my

growing dissatisfaction with the increasingly Hollywood-ish style of

storytelling coming out of Bollywood. I’ve been exploring the world of

Sandalwood (Kannada language films) for the last year and have

decidedto branch out to Telugu and Tamil films, as well.

My first selection was chosen with a eye towards the familiar plot.

Telugu film Billa (2009) is based on the plot of Don (1978) and with a

serious nod towards the style of Don (2006). (I compare and contrast

bothversions in this post on my old blog.) And I have to say that I was

highly satisfied with Billa - it took all the masala goodness of the

1978 Donand added some seriously updated eeeshtyle.

There are no spoilers for Billa here beyond the fact that it's a remake

of Don, so let's all watch it!!

I'm not going to waste everyone's time by recounting the plot of Don,

so we'll just jump right into it. Billa (an extremely studly Prabhas) is

Don. Ranga (also Prabhas) is the man with Billa's face who tricks

Billa's gang into believing that he's Billa.

Namitha plays Lisa, Billa's girlfriend. Her role is a lot bigger

than either Ishaa Koppikar or Arpana Choudary as Anita,

Don's girlfriend.

Anushka Shetty plays Maya, the woman who joins Billa's

gang to kill Billa - and Anushka is just as good as Zeenat

Aman in the original!

Here's the thing - Billa is a total jerk. As he says multiple

times, he uses weapons and women in the same way.

(What he's actually implying in that, I don't want to know.)

And like the 2006 Don, we're treated to some ultra-fan servicey

shots of Prabhas being cool and studly. The difference between

the 2006 Don and Billa, though, is that Billa is cool - not in

the slang sense but more that Billa is emotionless. He'll transfer

cases of money around, sure, but that doesn't mean he has to have

any facial expressions while doing it. But Billa, unlike Amitabh's

Don, is not quite passionless. He's into violence - but less sexualized

than Shahrukh's Don. He needs violence to get off but he's not into

the sexual violence that SRK was in Don.

The first really interesting difference between Don, Don,

and Billa is the seduction song at the beginning - the "Yeh Mera Dil."

Instead of a private number - it's done in public, with backup dancers.

We see Lisa getting jealous, but Billa is totally unmoved.

Even the "U R dangerously sexy" note doesn't move him. You get the

feeling that the only reason he gives in to the dancing Priya is because

he's bored and Lisa has left already.

The Billa duplicate Ranga enters about 50 minutes in and

is a complete breath of fresh air. I loved Ranga so much -

which is what we're supposed to do! One of the things that

really bothered me about the 2006 Don was that Vijay

was a fool. While I enjoy a slick anti-hero as much as the

rest of you (Dhoom 2, anyone?), Don wasn't an anti-hero,

he was a villain straight-up and to really enjoy a villain,

I want to see him or her defeated at the end - not victorious.

Ranga is a sweetheart but not sickly sweet. He's got a bit

of an edge and a really funny sense of humor. He takes

care of his younger siblings - eliminating the DAD subplot -

and agrees to join Billa's gang for them.

The training sequence alone is worth watching Billa for!!

I'm definitely checking out more Prabhas movies.

And that's Billa - a cool and good-looking Hero, some

masala dil, catchy songs, and over-the-top plot twists.

Not to mention some attractive ladies! Shall we discuss?

You know me, I love strong female characters and Billa has

two of them.

Lisa, as Billa's girlfriend, is not the Heroine of the piece

but she is sympathetic - kind of like Helen always managed

to be a little bit vixenish and vulnerable at the same time.

Not only does Billa keep her guessing about his affections,

but when Ranga shows up impersonating Billa, she is

tortured a bit more as she doesn't understand why he

is no longer running both hot and cold. Now, it's

just cold and cold.

Not to mention that former Miss Universe contestant

(if Wikipedia is to be believed) Namitha is smoking

HOT! And I want her white bathing suit from the

beginning of the film - which is something I never

thought I would ever say about a piece of swim wear,


And then there is Maya, whom I liked very much. She

never lets Billa get the better of her like Roma does

in the 2006 Don. Maya is determined to kill Billa and

acts like it. Anushka and Prabhas have great chemistry, too!

So, please go watch Billa and then tell me what you think!


ajnabi said...

Tell me, Filmi Girl, do you just buy these movies sight unseen based on recommendations, or is there a cool Southie rental service I can make use of? Because I would love to see these movies but Netflix's very sad selection is making ME very sad!

Cindy said...

I'm glad you gave the thumbs up to this -- I love Prabhas, but I wasn't too fond of the 2006 Don for many of the same reasons you gave. But, this sounds totally worth it.

Filmi Girl said...

@ajnabi I usually buy them sight unseen - I try to find a hero a like and then just watch everything he does. :) The nice thing about southie movies is that they are pretty cheap. I just got a big pile of VCDs at about $4.00 each.

@cindy Yes! If you didn't like the 2006 Don but you did like the original Don, you'll like Billa! Definitely give it a watch!

martoufmarty said...

That sounds amazing. I loved both the original Don and the 2006 Don for different reasons.

If only I could convince my mother and my sister to watch the old one! They loved the new one and don't want to ruin their love by watching the old one, or something, I have no idea.

I'll have to check this one out. You're helping me expand my Indian film knowledge!

rhilex said...

YAY for strong female roles! (and for females who aren't deathly skinny!)

You're really making me want to watch this... and I thought my to-watch list couldn't get much longer! (which I'm learning to be impossible when it comes to Indian films)

Filmi Girl said...

@martoufmarty You should see it! I bet even your mother and sister will like it - the styling is very similar to SRK's Don but the plot is closer to the original with enough twists to keep me - who has seen both - watching and unsure of the ending!

@rhilex Yay!! You should watch it! It's a nice entry to Telugu films because the plot is already kind of familiar. :)

layla-aaron said...

Oooh, I have a copy of this, and based on your review I'm definitely interested. I've not seen the original Don, but enjoyed the 2006 remake. (Now to add the original to a film order being formed. *g*)

But the real reason for me to watch is Namitha...WOW! She is smokin' hawt!!! :)

Emily said...

Yay Billa love! Isn't it great? Obviously I love it for Prabhas (I saw the first few minutes on YouTube and decided that even if seeing him walk all sexy like that was the best part of the movie it would be worth it) but everyone kept saying it was all style over substance so I wasn't expecting to like the movie as a whole so much.

Filmi Girl said...

@layla-aaron YES! Namitha is v. v. hot! And her eyes just kill me... *is dead*

@Emily Hee! I need to see more Prabhas, apparently... :)

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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