David Billa is the Telugu version of the Tamil film Billa 2 which is a prequel to Billa (remade in Telugu as Billa). While a sequel is the continuation of a film like Don 2 and Men In Black 3 and so on, a prequel tells the story that happened before the film. Thus we have seen Billa, and David Billa tells the story prior to that of Billa and shows how Billa eventually becomes a don and the reasons behind his transformation from an ordinary man to a gang-lord.
David Billa (Ajith) is a Sri Lankan national put up in an Indian refugee camp. He gets into small-time crime acts until he meets Abbasi (Sudhanshu Pandey) who uses him for big-time criminal activity. He rises to become number two in the gang hierarchy. When an arms dealer Dimitri ( Vidyuth Jamwal) arrives on the scene seeds of suspicion are sown between David Billa and Abbasi. They fall apart and a violent turf war erupts concluding in a predictable climax.
Ajith, as usual, gives a gritty performance, but his role is hampered by very poor delineation of the character. Sudhanshu Pandey is cool, calm and collected as the don. Vidyuth Jamwal oozes sophisticated villainy. Bruna
Abdulla, Parvathy Omanakuttan, Gabriela Bertante and Meenakshi Dixit are just glam-dolls in cameos. Many of the other characters are of the blink-and-you-miss category.
The story is visualised in a series of slick episodes but they are incredibly unbelievable and most often logic-defying cinematic license plays spoilsport. The element of thrill is totally missing in the phenomenal rise of a lungi-clad small-time crime-sheeter into a suit-attired gun-trotting super don. The screenplay sometimes gives the narration a rather too leisurely an amble. Thankfully, there are no running-around duets but just sizzling item numbers. The dialogues suffer from serious translational glitches. Rajasekhar’s cinematography is splendid. Action sequences are thundering spectacles. Sound design is good. Production values are very high.
The subject of an ordinary man transforming into a dreaded gang-lord has earlier been tackled in Yash Chopra’s Deewar (1975), Mani Ratnam’s Nayakudu (1987) [Hindi remake Dayavan 1988] and Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya (1998). These three movies attained cult status and so it is inevitable to draw comparisons with these films while watching Chakri Toleti’s David Billa which is made on a similar premise.
The opening of David Billa also reminds you of Brian De Palma’s classic Scarface (1983) where Tony Montana (Al Pacino) arrives in Miami, Florida as a Cuban refugee and latter gets into the drug dealing mafia through Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia). Here David Billa (Ajith) comes as a Sri Lankan refugee and meets don Abbasi (Sudhanshu Pandey).
Poor characterisation makes the character of David Billa difficult to empathise with, while sloppy screenplay makes the narration wobble with gaping yawn-gaps. Mere slick and stylistic presentation cannot be a suitable substitute for the substantial solidity of content.
David Billa may appeal only to those who have not seen Deewar, Nayakudu and Satya or Scarface, and of course to all those fans of Ajith.
The Cast and Crew
Ajith, Parvathy Omanakuttan, Bruna Abdulla, Prabhu, Rahman, Vidyuth Jamwal, Sudhanshu Pandey, Manoj Jayan, Krishna Kumar, Gabriela Bertante and others
Written By: Eric Felberg
Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Art: Selva Kumar
Action: Byron Gibson
Cinematography: RD Rajasekhar
Editing: Suresh Urs
Producer: Sunir Kheterpal, Shobha Rani
Banner: Wide Angle Creations / SVR Media Pvt Ltd
Director: Chakri Toleti
2.5 out of 5
Review by Deen Kumar
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