Arjun Rampal, Aishwarya Rajesh, Nishikant Kamat, Farhan Akhtar
Ashim Ahluwalia

A solo release for Arjun Rampal after a long, long time, DADDY is clearly a film where Rampal has decided to put all his eggs in one basket and wait to see how it is taking shape....writes Shubarna Mukerji Shu.


...We were curious too - given his last release Kahaani 2 clearly projected him as the surprise package. We never did think he could look affable in a performance centric film. He tries his best with DADDY too. For the uninitiated, Daddy is based on Arun Gawli's life. A known criminal whose life has been debated extensively. With Daddy - we see a whole new side of the criminal vis-a-vis the onscreen character and also the actor, Rampal.


To begin with, we are seeing a very different look on Rampal. He wins us there, with his prosthetics and reluctance as a youth pulled into a different gamut in life. The prosthetics of course helped, but we cannot take away from how well Rampal has morphed into Gawli sinking into the character with a pretty accurate voice modulation. The film certainly wins us at the first impression. You are waiting anxiously to know the life of a much-dreaded gangster and suddenly we are sent into reasons, explanations and more reasons, trying to get the audience to consider him the prince of thieves rather than the menace that is usually associated with Gawli. The encounters start following suit, since most of Gawli’s life is rather well documented, the film more or less adheres to the facts yet leaving room for sympathy for the lead.


The makers opted for a non-linear approach to story-telling, while the editors, Deepa Bhatia and Navnita Sen Datta, have tried to keep the pace with the life of the gangster. The jerky narrative leaves you with a disturbing sense of confusion rather than breathless, which was what the game plan should have been. The film touches upon Gawli’s personal life more heavily than his condemned life of a criminal nature. There are fleeting mentions of his Dawood connection, which I frankly was looking forward to, because it is not often that you see Farhan Akhtar playing Dawood. After Rishi Kapoor’s accurate depiction in D-Day, it was difficult to see Akhtar filling the space. Though, he went with the name Maksood and looking rather powerful in his sunglasses, that chilling fearing/repulsion you are supposed to feel was not coming across potently. Coming from someone like Farhan Akhtar, you expect a little more… remember how well he got into Milkha Singh’s skin?


All and all, Daddy was a documentation of Gawli’s life in the perspective that his family would have appreciated. Couldn’t help but think if the gore could have been depicted more realistically, without trying to paint a rosy picture with reasons and more… it would have been more effective. What was it that stopped Ashim Ahluwalia, who has given us films like Miss Lovely, from going that mile and crossing over the border rather than choosing to sit over the fence for the most of the film! Don’t get me wrong… by gore I don’t mean to criticize the director/writer’s choice of going subtle with the encounter scenes, I mean the gore that is a part of a gangster’s life. The tough choices he has had to make are not as effective as it could have been. With every person one kills, a part of the victor too dies – why has Ashim not dealt with that? With no remorse and very predictable reasoning – this film fails to reach the heights the trailers promised it could reach.


However, you must watch the film for the astounding recreation of Mumbai from the late 70s through 80s. Fabulous work by cinematographers - Pankaj Kumar & Jessica Lee Gagné and location director Parul Sondh. Cannot help but tell the ladies in the crew of this film have really made the difference you find in this piece, also Aishwarya Rajesh makes an impact with her role - taking the film on the fringes of art.

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