The Hindi film industry is indeed going through an exhilarating phase. A variety of movies and assorted stories are being attempted week after week. With a novel tale unfolding every week, a Hindi movie buff has a lot to look forward to.
Who would’ve ever anticipated that the maker of poignant and stirring films like KAL HO NAA HO, SALAAM-E-ISHQ and PATIALA HOUSE — underlining a strong emotional undercurrent in each of those films — would attempt a film about India’s Most Wanted Man? Not me, for sure! But Nikhil Advani ventures into an alien terrain with D-DAY, which, on surface, may seem like yet another gangster film, but it’s not. There have been a lot of debates about gangsters who have sought a secure haven on foreign soil and a lot is being said about getting them back to India for trial and justice. But D-DAY is the first Hindi film to explore this pertinent aspect [read burning issue].
The plotline of D-DAY conjures up memories of the 2012 film ZERO DARK THIRTY, which was about the manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden. However, the similarities between the two films end there.
What makes D-DAY relevant and relatable is the fact that Nikhil borrows from real-life headlines/occurrences and gives it a new spin altogether, interpreting the story his way. The basic premise of the film — RAW agents being assigned the task of bringing back the fugitive crime lord back to India — evokes tremendous curiosity, but at the same time, Nikhil knows that since the subject matter is sensitive and volatile, it ought to be tackled with extreme concern and caution. Thankfully, Nikhil treats this explosive theme with extreme care.
Nine years ago, Wali Khan [Irrfan] was sent to Karachi, Pakistan by the Chief of RAW Ashwini Rao [Nasser] to report the activities of the Most Wanted Man in India. Nine days ago, Rudra Pratap Singh [Arjun Rampal], Indian Armed Forces, Zoya Rehman [Huma Qureshi], RAW Explosives Expert and Aslam [Aakash Daahiya], a petty thief from the streets of Mumbai, recruited by RAW, join Wali in Pakistan to carry out the mission to bring back the Most Wanted Man in India. The man who was going to break all ISI protocol and security and attend his own son’s wedding. The man who could, on that day, be abducted and brought back to India to face justice.
The team sent in to bring the Most Wanted Man in India did the unthinkable — they carried out the most daring operation and almost got away with it. Almost, because something went horribly wrong!
There have been umpteen debates and discussions to extradite gangsters and criminals operating from foreign land and Nikhil, together with writers Ritesh Shah and Suresh Nair, weaves a yarn that’s part bona fide, part fiction. D-DAY is gritty and hard-hitting, but most importantly, it’s an earnest attempt. The setting appears authentic [D-DAY gives the impression of being filmed in Pakistan], the sequence of events is well connected and the implementation of the written material is compelling. Not once do you feel that Nikhil bites off more than he can chew.
D-DAY tackles a knotty issue and it’s imperative that Nikhil stays close to authenticity. The demanding plot and the edgy, gritty and raw situations, besides the ambience [recreating Karachi], makes this espionage thriller so different from the gangster films we have witnessed on the Hindi screen thus far. The four patriots, each with a back story, joining hands for a common mission, their expedition and how the hunters become the hunted in the neighbouring country gives the film that edge and power that’s hard to expunge from memory.
Nikhil reserves the best for the finale. The fight at the border and what ensues blows your mind and can easily be termed as the icing on the cake. Sure, Nikhil and his writers run their imagination wild here, but let me tell you, this finale is sure to meet with wild cheers. The sole hiccup is that the film appears elongated and could’ve been short and snappy by 10/15 odd minutes. A succinctly narrated theme only aids in augmenting the overall impact, as we know by now.
Nikhil keeps the action [Tom Struthers] as real as possible. Besides, the action in D-DAY is not the type that is dominating the Hindi screen of late. It’s raw, but believable, keeping in mind the characters the protagonists illustrate. The soundtrack [Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy] is absolutely in sync with the mood of the film. The best track of the film is, without doubt, ‘Alvida’. The visuals in the song are mind-blowing. Tushar Kanti Ray’s cinematography captures the gritty ambience to perfection. Dialogue [Ritesh Shah and Niranjan Iyengar] are strong and compelling.
D-DAY has an ensemble cast, but the scene stealer is, without doubt, Rishi Kapoor. The veteran continues to push boundaries, challenging himself and astonishing the spectators. Recall the man coping with inflation in DO DOONI CHAAR, the stern family patriarch in PATIALA HOUSE, the villainous character in AGNEEPATH, the college dean in STUDENT OF THE YEAR and the ageing romantic in CHASHME BADDOOR. D-DAY proves his versatility yet again as he gets to portray the much-feared don. He’s tremendous!
Irrfan has always proved himself, irrespective of how good/bad the film may be, and it’s no different this time. Of course, the accomplished actor gets a power-packed character and he leaves a stunning impact yet again. The film proves, yet again, his brilliance as an artiste of calibre in several sequences, especially the ones towards the closing stages of the film. Arjun Rampal continues to surprise and evolve as an actor. It seems, he is on an experimenting mood and the character he portrays in D-DAY gives him the opportunity to step forward as an actor. He’s top notch!
Huma Qureshi too gets ample opportunity to get into a diverse zone with this film and she seizes the prospect instantaneously. She stands on her own, despite the presence of formidable and much-experienced actors in the frame. Shruti Haasan gets a complicated, layered character and she handles it with gusto. The chemistry with Arjun is electrifying as well. Sriswara, portraying the character of Irrfan’s wife, is a revelation. She will make heads turn with her talent. Aakash Daahiya is competent. Although the film stars far more experienced names, he grabs you attention every time he appears on screen.
Nasser [as RAW chief], K.K. Raina [as Gen. Raza], Chandan Roy Sanyal [as Bhanja], Imran Hasnee [as Saleem Pathan], Nissar Khan [as Niyaaz Ahmed] and Sandeep Kulkarni [as Atul Mishra] — each of them contribute so much to every sequence. Divij Handa, as Irrfan’s kid Kabir, is super. Rajpal Yadav’s presence enlivens the song at the very start.
On the whole, D-DAY is what a well-made thriller ought to be — taut, transfixing and spellbinding, with an astounding finale. Don’t miss this high-octane thriller!
4 out of 5
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