The underworld that ruled Mumbai at one point has spun many films over the years. But surprisingly, no film was made solely on Arun Gawli, who has also been a prominent figure in the city’s underworld and politics and continues to be. Director Ashim Ahluwalia takes the challenge and comes up with DADDY, and makes an unconventional choice of having a suave Arjun Rampal for a character that’s diametrically opposite to his persona in all aspects. So does the risk pay off or does DADDY turn into a disappointing gangster fare, let’s analyse.
DADDY begins on a shocking note and you expect the film to be a fast-paced, well-preserved gangster drama. The film however falls a bit immediately but still, the scenes of the ‘B.R.A. gang’ are engaging. But as the film progresses, it becomes too confusing and incoherent. Too many things are packed in the film’s 135 minutes run time. Also there are far too many characters. One fails to understand who exactly is the villain and if it’s the system that’s the villain, then it’s not established very well. It is mentioned that poverty drove Arun to crime but one never gets to see his family struggling due to poor economic conditions. Moreover, the film suffers from another strange problem – the background score and sound design at places is too loud because of which certain dialogues are inaudible.
Arjun Rampal and Ashim Ahluwalia’s story is weak and should have been detailed. The screenplay is average as it fails to put together the life of Arun Gawli in a cinematic format. Ritesh Shah’s dialogues are strictly okay and fail to register.
Ashim Ahluwalia’s direction is the biggest culprit. He fails to do justice to the script, however faulty it may be. With his execution, he could have taken the film to a great height. But barring few scenes and the finale courtroom sequence, he misses the mark. Few scenes are quite bewildering. For instance, the encounter attempt on Arun Gawli at the ‘nakabandi’ failed to make an iota of sense. And why was Arun using paper ballot to vote when EVMs had already been introduced by then?
Arjun Rampal however saves the film to a great extent with his performance. Arjun proves his worth as an actor in this film and gets totally into the skin of his character. Surely, this is one of his most accomplished works! Aishwarya Rajesh (Zubeida) has a fine screen presence and gets the best scope among the other actresses. Shruti Bapna (Rani) leaves a mark while Anupriya Goenka (Hilda) gets scope only in the post interval scene with Arjun Rampal. Farhan Akhtar (Maqsood) is quite decent as the dreaded Don. Rajesh Shringarpore gives a bravura performance and is a highlight of the first half. Anand Ingle looks menacing and puts his best foot forward. Nishikant Kamat (Inspector Vijaykar) is quite nice and he has a crucial part in the film. His character however is quite controversial and the way Mumbai Police is shown as being hand in glove with Dawood like gangster is bound to raise eyebrows. Purnanand Wandekar (Vijay), Raj Arun (Rafique) and Deepak Damle (Phamplet Bandya) are too good in small roles.
Sajid-Wajid’s music is average. ‘Eid Mubarak‘ and ‘Aala Re Aala Ganesha‘ are relegated to the background. ‘Zindagi Meri Dance Dance’ however is quite impressive and reminiscent of the bygone era. Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor’s background score has an 80s touch and is entertaining.
On the whole, DADDY is a poor show due to its incoherent script and weak direction. Arjun Rampal’s performance is the sole factor that makes the film realistic. Watch it if you are a fan of Arjun Rampal or gangster flicks.
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