Director Nikhil Advani’s one-line narrative – ‘To bring back world’s most wanted man to India’ – is given life on the big screen in the most convincing way possible by his stars, Rishi Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and Arjun Rampal
As a genre, espionage thrillers haven’t been explored too deeply in Bollywood, even though they are popular. Nikhil Advani’s latest presentation D-Day is an exemplary work reportedly based on the story of dreaded underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. And what a film it is! This is one that you – and everyone – should watch, without fail.
This year alone three films – D-Day, Shootout At Wadala and Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobara – have taken inspiration from the life and times of gangster-in-hiding Dawood. But we wonder if any other could come even close to the brilliance of Nikhil’s subject, vision, treatment and the purpose with which he has created this film.
Filmmakers have made films on Dawood earlier too, but they tended to lose the finesse simply because more importance was given to glorifying the gangster and his crimes on celluloid than to realistic story-telling. That’s where Nikhil scores brownie points – he sticks to the theme without any deviations. His interpretation is simple and acceptable rather than being unduly drawn out or lecturing: don’t nurture a terrorist.
D-Day narrates a story that will resonate with every Indian. The film is set against the backdrop of some of the most heinous terrorism in India over the past several years. Unfolding over a period of four days, it tells the riveting story of a group of unauthorised government agents who enter a neighbouring country in a bid to capture the man responsible for the acts of terror, a man who has evaded justice for over two decades.
The operation to nab India’s most wanted man is carried out by four undercover agents and is truly absorbing. Wali Khan (Irrfan Khan) is sent to Pakistan to keep an eye on Goldman (Rishi Kapoor). But Wali falls victim to the dilemma of family vs duty, one that most undercover agents succumb to. Rudra Pratap Singh (Arjun Rampal) of the Indian Armed Forces, Zoya Rehman (Huma Qureshi) who is a R&AW explosives expert and Aslam (Akash Dhaiya), a petty thief from Mumbai, are recruited by R&AW and infiltrate Pakistan to join Wali and fulfil the mission – to bring Goldman back to India. On the eve of Goldman’s son’s wedding, the mission that will result in the downfall of the notorious don is carried out, but is it successful? How brilliantly the climax is tied up with surprise elements and action sequences makes D-Day an unparalleled production.
Rishi Kapoor as Goldman delivers a stunning performance. His two-minute dialogue in the climax taking a dig at the Indian legal system evokes whistles, laughter and applause from the audience. Irrfan as Wali Khan is superlative in emotional and action-packed moments. Arjun Rampal suits his character Rudra Pratap to the T; it’s THE best performance in his decade-plus long journey as an actor. His angst and his rarely used baritone serves his purpose well. South Indian actor Nasser’s brief appearance as RAW chief Ashwini Rao, who battles with his own system to ensure his team is unharmed in Pakistan, is commendable. Huma tackles her part well, but Shruti Haasan is misplaced. Sriswara as Irrfan’s wife does a fairly good job.
Overall, D-Day is well-made. The script and screenplay is terrific. Tusshar Ray’s cinematography is innovative and Tom Struthers’ (of Inception and Dark Knight fame) realistic action sequences are A-grade. Clean editing makes the film crisp. The last 15 minutes is an adrenaline rush as all the drama unfolds.
D-Day is Nikhil’s way of putting an end to a chapter that started 20 years ago on March 12, 1993. It’s his solemn and humble tribute to the lives that were lost in the most horrific terrorist blasts that only marked the beginning of a series, including the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. This is the director’s way of bringing to justice India’s most wanted man and his interpretation of what needs to be done with such individuals. He deserves the applause we are sure you will give him. D-Day is for us one of the best espionage thrillers we have seen!
With D-Day, Advani successfully inks his name on the list of ‘different’ filmmakers. Take a bow, Mr Advani!
Reviewed by Dhiren Trivedi
**** Very good