Cibi Chakaravarthi’s directorial debut, Don, is a 2022 Indian Tamil-language coming-of-age romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Cibi Chakaravarthi, and produced by Allirajah Subaskaran of Lyca Productions.
It centers around a hesitant engineering student who clashes with his college’s discipline mentor on a regular basis while still attempting to figure out what he wants to do with his life.
The film was announced in January 2021, and it would be shot between February and December of that year. It was shot in locations throughout Tamil Nadu, including Coimbatore, Chennai, Pollachi, and Udumalaipettai, with a song shot in Agra.
The film incorporates Anirudh Ravichander’s soundtrack, as well as K. M. Bhaskaran’s photography and Nagooran’s editing.
On May 13, 2022, Don was released in theatres. Critics and audiences praised the cast’s performances (particularly those of Sivakarthikeyan, Suryah, and Samuthirakani), Anirudh’s soundtrack, Cibi’s screenplay, climax, and emotional weight.
The film was a commercial success, grossing over 100 crores worldwide.
- Sivakarthikeyan as Chakaravarthi Ganesan (Don)
- S. J. Suryah as Bhoominathan
- Priyanka Arul Mohan
- Kaali Venkat
- Bala Saravanan as Bala
- RJ Vijay as Mani
- Sivaangi Krishnakumar as Lilly (Student)
- Singampuli as Kandhan ARTS
- Manobala as School teacher
- Thanus Karan Swamy
- Swetha Venkat as Swetha Miss
- George Maryan
- Aadhira Pandilakshmi as Bhavani
- Raju Jeyamohan as Raghu
- Shariq Hassan as Teja
- Radha Ravi as Killivallavan
- Gautham Vasudev Menon
- Big Boii Vish as himself
- Nakkalites Chella as professor
Given that his strict father (Samuthirakani), or as he refers to him, the “sirappana tharamana villain” in his life, wants him to study hard, Chakaravarthi (Sivakarthikeyan), the protagonist of Don, seeks to build a reputation for himself without studying.
The story is about whether or not this young man can find out what he wants to do with his life while studying at an engineering college, which is a soul-sucking environment. Boominathan (SJ Suryah), a college professor who is even stricter than his father, adds to his sorrow!
Cibi Chakaravarthi, a newbie director, creates a Santhosh Subramaniam-meets-Nanban set-up that allows him to appeal to both the younger and older audiences. He cleverly divides the film into two portions, one for the youth and the other for the family audience. Yes, we can see how deliberate this technique is, which makes Don less of a coming-of-age drama and more of a commercial entertainer (cinematographer KM Bhaskaran fills the frames with color, which is appropriate), but the filmmaker succeeds.
The tension between Chakaravarthi, the college’s Don, and Boomi is the focus of the film for the most part, and Sivakarthikeyan and SJ Suryah’s energetic performances bring these scenes to life. The maneuvers and counter-moves that the two devise to bring down the other result in a number of amusing moments, such as when Boomi arranges a parent-teacher meeting with Don’s father or when Don successfully puts the teachers in the shoes of the pupils. This war of wits is interspersed with a few moments of adorable and cringe romance between Don and Angayarkanni (Priyanka Mohan, okayish).
Things swerve into emotional terrain in the last sections, and the picture comes perilously near to treacly melodrama, which is totally wrong from the light-hearted tone we’ve had up to that point, but it doesn’t ruin the film. However, the emotions it elicits in these scenes do not feel well-earned, as it attempts to pass off destructive parenting as a type of “untold love.” While the phrase about parents learning how to raise their children via trial and error is accurate, it’s difficult to believe the film’s attempts to make Don’s father an endearing figure, given the way the character treats his son up until that point.
Regardless, the cast pulls it off. Sivakarthikeyan is a superb fit for this part, even convincing the school scenes, and it is his honest portrayal in the climax (the real-life similarities add to the impact) that elevates it. SJ Suryah excels in a part that may have easily devolved into caricature (as Sathyaraj’s character in Nanban did).
In the first half, the minute shifts in his face contribute to the hilarity. And Samuthirakani aids us in overlooking his character’s last-minute shift. The remainder of the supporting cast — Soori, who plays Chakaravarthi’s relative, Bala Saravanan, Vijay, and Sivaangi, who portrays his buddies, and Aadhira Pandilakshmi, who plays his mother — is good, though the subplot involving Raju and Shariq, who play Chakaravarthi’s college competitors, feels forced.
Given how he is used for some pleasant moments early on, one also wishes that the director had found a way to include Angayarkanni’s father — refreshingly, a polite cop — a part of the events in the later stages.
Finally, Cibi Chakaravarthi’s conviction and Anirudh’s energetic score carry the picture to its conclusion, ensuring that, despite the film’s formulaic presentation of the topic (which is plainly influenced by early 2000s films), it stays mainly engaging.
Box Office Collection:
The film grossed nearly ten crore rupees on its first day of release in India, making it one of Sivakarthikeyan’s most successful opening days. The film earned more than 8.5 crores in Tamil Nadu, 75 lakhs in Karnataka, 50 lakhs in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and 20 lakhs in the rest of India.
According to the Times of India, the film has grossed roughly 11.50 crores after two days in theatres.
The film has already surpassed the 30-crore milestone on its third day of distribution.
The film grossed Rs. 47.50 crores and Rs. 44.50 crores on the fourth and fifth days of its release, respectively. College Don, the Telugu remake, made 3.10 crore on its sixth day in theatres. The film had already grossed 100 crores worldwide in its second week of theatrical distribution.
- India Net Collection ₹ 77.86 Cr
- Worldwide Collection ₹ 114 Cr
- Overseas Collection ₹ 23.35 Cr
- India Gross Collection ₹ 90.65 Cr
|Day 1 [1st Friday]||₹ 0.92 Cr||–|
|Day 2 [1st Saturday]||₹ 0.94 Cr||2.17%|
|Day 3 [1st Sunday]||₹ 0.96 Cr||2.13%|
Don is a movie with good intentions. Its goal is to describe our education system as a well-oiled processing machine. Whatever the input, the output must be the same. It also attempts to convey Indian parents’ unwavering faith in the system. However, Don’s script rarely engages with nuance, which is surprising for a film with such lofty intentions. It’s solely interested in extremes. Chakravarthy’s father and his college’s disciplinary head, Boominathan, are two of the film’s key ‘villains’ (SJ Suryah).
They are mostly one-note characters. Boominathan, like Chakravathy’s father, is preoccupied with discipline. Their actions touch on dictatorship. When they realize Chakravarthy has a ‘dream,’ they mysteriously convert into nicer, empathic beings. It’s impossible to deny that they want the best for their son or pupil. Their good intentions, however, can not compensate for the emotional pain Chakravarthy has suffered as a result of their actions. Reality does not operate in binary terms, but Don’s writing lacks this nuance.
The ease of writing extends not only to the individuals but also to the broader story and location. The film’s first half is, unsurprisingly, light. It is reliant on humor and Sivakarthikeyan’s comic abilities. A few instances, such as the spoof of a famous episode from Baasha, make you smile.
However, the universe is mostly set up without any logic. Despite his fondness for discipline, Boominathan is unconcerned about Chakravarthy’s casual attire and jeans. The minor nuances fade away. Students in the audience are armed with glitter pom-poms while witnessing a cultural performance. Chakravarthy almost gets away with everything, from fraudulent applications to inconsequential strikes, thanks to the intervention of a foolish dean.
The commercial cliches and platitudes stifle Don’s emotional impact. Chakravarthi discovers his true calling in filmmaking and aspires to be a director. For obvious reasons, his father and girlfriend Angayarkanni (Priyanka Mohan) oppose it. The movie acknowledges it, but just on the surface. Thousands of great individuals may fail to break into the industry, but Chakravarthi is not one of them because… he is the hero. Even elephants move to the side to make space for him. With only one short film and a feature film, he becomes a pan-Indian success in typical Suryavamsam fashion.