The Cinema Station’s Rating: Third AC journey (2.75/5)
Starring: Arjun Rampal, Aishwarya Rajesh, Rajesh Shringarpure, Anand Ingale, Nishikant Kamat
Director: Ashim Ahluwalia
The Indian film industry, over the years, has continued to shed light upon some of the darkest, most notorious and petrifying characters of the Indian mafia. Whether it be the flamboyant and charismatic Sultan Mirza of Once Upon A Time in Mumbai, the many stylish and deadly faces of Dawood in films like D-Day or the cool, composite and stealthy Ramadhir Singh of Gangs of Wasseypur, Bollywood somehow manages to do justice to their characters that evolve out of the stories of real life gangsters. Ashim Ahluwalia’s portrait of Arun Gawli is dark and engrossing but suffers from some directorial and editing casualties in its 140-minute long run.
What kicks off in the streets of Dagdi Chawl in 1976, soon begins to take shape around the evolution of the BRA gang and the metamorphosis of Arun Gawli, the protagonist, into a gangster from an average mill worker who loses his job. Just like every Bollywood-gangster film, Daddy also builds upon the hardships of Arun during his early days and how circumstances force him into partnering Babu Reshim and Rama Naik in their unscrupulous activities. Yes, it matches the tonality of others in the genre, but Daddy adds the unique touch to it. The time, locations, costumes and above all, the characters add a tangible and believable aura to the film. The first half gets almost all aspects of a Mumbai based gangster right; from the chawls and slum style life to the encounter with Dawood followed by shootouts and chase scenes, everything is done justice to.
Daddy follows a pretty simplistic and already explored story line but with a sensational protagonist at the helm of things. Gawli’s character is completely nailed by Arjun Rampal. From the prosthetics to the accent and the makeup, Arjun Rampal is without a doubt the best thing Daddy has. Music of the 80’s and effecient supporting cast members play their part in the transformation of Arun to Daddy, but after a rather eventful first half things start to get a little dull and dark in the second part of the journey. With Gawli reaching his peak as the leader of the BRA gang, Ashim Ahluwalia’s film tends to solely rely on Rampal’s on-screen persona.
Another feather in the cap for Daddy is that it keeps facts and figures in check. The film is well researched and ensures the chronology of events is not tampered with. As we near the end, the film successfully exits its temporary monotony as Arun Gawli enters into politics. From this juncture, the film sprints towards the end, giving a very high level view of Gawli’s career as a politician.
It’s well finished by a bold and touting speech by Rampal as we see Gawli being sentenced for life. Despite some of its flaws, Daddy ended it up impressing me. It could be because it does not conveniently tamper with facts or even because of the relentless efforts put into making this film given the innumerable challenges faced by the production unit. Summing it up, I’d say Daddy is watchable if you enjoy dark and treacherous hindi cinema, Daddy fits your genre.