Daddy Movie Review: Rampal’s Daddy Cool’ Act
A biopic is a tricky venture and when it is based on a person, who is still alive and mired in controversies, walking on eggshells without cracking any seems like a relatively easy process. Despite this, Arjun Rampal teamed up with Ashim Ahluwalia to make Daddy, a film on the life of former underworld don Arun Gawli, who started his life as a petty criminal before becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Mumbai underworld. But does ‘Daddy’ work? Read on and find out… Set in the gritty alleys and mean streets of Mumbai, ‘Daddy’ revolves around Arun Gawli (Arjun Rampal), the son of a mill-worker, who took to petty crime with his associates Babu Resham (Anand Ingale) and Rama Naik (Rajesh Shringarpure) for a living. The film then goes on to trace the rise and fall of Gawli after his associates are killed and he is compelled to step up to take reigns of the gang in order to fight the ‘Bhai’ (Farhan Akhtar) and carve a niche for himself in the hierarchy of the underworld. How Gawli manages to do this while staying one step ahead of his nemesis Inspector Nitin Vijaykar (Nishikant Kamat), forms the rest of the plot. At the outset, let me make it clear that when it comes to performances, every actor has given his absolute best without any exceptions. Rampal, who underwent an amazing physical transformation to get under the skin of his character, has absolutely killed it as Gawli. There is a certain gravitas that Rampal brings to the role, which is simply admirable and the actor manages to convey emotions through his eyes when no dialogues are needed. One can almost feel Gawli’s reluctance to join a life a crime and his helplessness as he gets sucked in deeper. Aishwarya Rajesh, who plays his wife Asha Gawli, is bang on as she bears an uncanny resemblance to the real Asha Gawli and the actress has put in a solid performance, despite her limited screen time. Kamat as the cop on Gawli’s trail is almost frightening in his single-minded intensity and there are scenes where you actually tend to empathize with the criminal rather than the cop. Farhan plays ‘Bhai’ (clearly modeled on Dawood) and manages to project an aura of menace without trying too hard. Ingale and Shringarpure have lent able support to the narrative with their restrained performances. As for the film itself, it is quite technically sound right from the first frame itself. Be it costumes or locations or cinematography or the background score, Daddy is an absolute winner on all counts. What works against the film is Ashim’s trick of using various narrators to present Gawli’s story as it tends to make the plot lose its crispness and stretches it. Had the filmmaker stuck to a sole narrator or just let the plot unfold without the help of a narrator, the film may have moved at a desirable pace. Also, though Rampal had sworn that the film will not glorify Gawli, ‘Daddy’ does tend to be tilted in favour of the former don and presents him as a reluctant gangster rather than an active member of the Mumbai underworld. Also, the second half is somewhat stretched and could have done with some editing. Nevertheless, if you are a fan of Rampal and/or Mumbai gangland lore, Daddy should make your weekend interesting.