Direction: Nikhil Advani
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Huma Qureshi, Arjun Rampal, Rishi Kapoor
Rating: ** 1/2
Any self-respecting Hindi film buff can rattle off names of half a dozen films on Dawood Ibrahim. D-Day is the latest. And it comes from unexpected quarters. Nikhil Advani is known for elaboraltely woven love stories (Kal Ho Na Ho, Salaam-E-Ishq). His only prior attempt to action (Chandni Chowk To China) was universally shot down.
Yet, Advani shows command over the genre in D-Day. The action is slick, the settings credible and the cinematography impressive (DOP Tushar Kanti Ray also shot Dhobi Ghat and Shor In The City). And till halfway point, the film is thoroughly gripping. Post that, however, the story unravels so fantastically, it demands tremendous suspension of disbelief.
References to actual events (1993 Mumbai blasts, 2013 Hyderabad blasts) build premise rather than root the story in reality. The R&AW despatches a team to Karachi to nab India’s ‘Most Wanted’ criminal. Iqbal Seth, aka Goldman (Rishi Kapoor) is obviously Dawood, with rose-tinted glasses, moustache, even some lines in Marathi.
But the film invests more in the agents’ stories than in Seth’s. Wali Khan (Irrfan) is the most fleshed-out character — an undercover agent with a family he cares and fears deeply for. Irrfan, unsurprisingly, is also the strongest actor. Arjun Rampal (agent Rudra Pratap Singh) brings to the role what he brings to every film — good looks and a standard brooding expression. Huma Qureshi (Zoya Rehman) gets plenty of screen time, but has little to do. As does Kapoor who, when not getting yanked around at gunpoint, spews one-liners like “trigger kheech, maamla mat kheech” (pull the trigger, don’t stretch the matter).
Yet, the matter does get stretched, till plot lines wear thin and reason dies a bullet-riddled death.