Mumbai,Sept8:Daddy starring Arjun Rampal as Arun Gawli and directed by Ashim Ahluwalia is the big Bollywood release today and here is our Daddy movie review.
Daddy Cast: Arjun Rampal, Aishwarya Rajesh, Nishikant Kamat, Farhan Akhtar
Daddy Director: Ashim Ahluwalia
Daddy begins with a bang and takes the viewer through the narrow alleys of Dagdi Chawl where the 1970s mill strikes and eventual shutdown ended up snatching many youngsters’ jobs. “Policewale ke ghar mein paida hota toh police-wala hota. Dagdi Chawl mein paida hua toh gangster bana,” is a dialogue from Daddy that tells you the reason why Arun Gulab Gawli, son of a mill worker, became Daddy; godfather to Dagdi Chawl, dreaded gangster to the rest of Mumbai. With police officer Vijaykar (an extremely convincing Nishikant Kamat) close on his heels, Arun finds himself constantly part of a cat-and-mouse chase.
Arun, along with Rama Naik and Babu Reshim, start the BRA gang derived from their initials. The trio handles chhota-mota contract killings and ‘Bhai’s’ ‘import-export’ of electronic goods. Gawli is not happy being a henchman. He wants recognition and respect in Dadgi Chawl.
From the inception of the BRA gang to how Gawli remained the only one who did not run, is a narrative that director Ashim Ahluwalia and actor-producer Arjun Rampal have crafted with much expertise. Daddy the film does not glorify Gawli for most part. But there are those subtle indications in Gawli’s silent sighs and just the slightest hint of sarcasm at his ‘belief in the system’ even as he is being escorted to prison that give off a scent of deifying this godfather-gangster of Agripada.
Arjun Rampal pulls off his role as Arun Gawli with elan. It is a refreshing change to see a role completely cut out, tailor-made for Rampal. He does not have many dialogues in Daddy, and he takes care of the anger well. The grimace on his face is befitting of Gawli. He pulls the trigger with as much skill as he delivers a speech in front of his chawl. Daddy is one of Rampal’s best roles and definitely more impactful than the one he won a National Film Award for.
Farhan Akhtar as Maqsood is largely believable but not menacing enough. Aishwarya Rajesh as Zubeida, Arun’s lover and then wife, makes an impression on the viewer. Actor-director Nishikant Kamat takes the cake as far as the ensemble cast is concerned. He plays Vijaykar, the limping police officer who ensures that Gawli ends up behind bars.
Daddy brings the 70s-80s Bombay alive on screen. The fancy sideburns to the moustaches, the bell-bottoms to the sunglasses, all are tinted sepia and presented to the audience in a believable manner. But it is the story that stops short of being powerful after a point. It works in fits and starts before losing steam altogether. The problem with Daddy lies in its inability to rise above the superficial. Ahluwalia never quite lets his lead actor dive into the complexities and flaws of Gawli’s character. Gawli comes across as one-dimensional. The script is saddled with a lot of action per se, but none of it is powerful enough to help Daddy overpower its weaknesses.
A qawwali, a Ganesh Aarti song and a 70s disco song comprise the soundtrack of Daddy. Sajid-Wajid’s music is passable and the three songs don’t hamper the pace of Daddy.
The problem with making a film on the Mumbai underworld is the sheer number of films that have already been made on it (we have Haseena Parkar arriving in two weeks). True, no film till date has concentrated on Arun Gawli’s life, but it presents nothing extra or nothing more than we don’t already know. It tells you nothing about how this man swept off the elections or why he was so loved in Dagdi Chawl. The rivalries, the power struggle between Dawood and Gawli, everything has happened in the last few decades and there is a lot of material on it. Daddy says nothing that is not already there is public domain. For a subject like this, therefore, the real feat lied in how you told the story. Daddy, sadly, is gripping only in parts.
Watch this gangster drama for Arjun Rampal’s heartfelt performance. He breathes as Arun Gawli in Daddy.