Friday, June 03, 2005


The Bollywood gangster film has become as much as a cliché as ‘running around trees.’

When Vishram Sawant’s D starts with a view of the Mumbai skyline and some pseudo-profundity about life in the city, you know what’s coming…. another self-conscious homage to Satya (directed by Ram Gopal Varma, who produced this one.)

In retrospect, Satya with all its glorification of crime, had the sincerity of a pioneer—it was genuinely gritty, had moments of raw emotional power, and a clear point of view. With repetition—including in Varma’s own Company—the impact and shock value of the gangster flick is gone. D is just a cynical attempt to cash in on the genre, with the hope that audiences have not become too desensitized to the casual violence in these films. Sadly, they have—after seeing the tenth man being shot at point blank range, you cease to recoil or look away.

The same elements recycled and repeated like a monotonous drone— squalid chawls, rival gangs, brutal cops, street wars, extortion, underworld nexus with the film industry and political parties… unemployed chawl boys recruited into gangs with the line, “You can make in a year what you can’t make slogging your whole life,” – then seen lounging around, drinking and carousing in dance bars.

Deshu (Randeep Hooda) is given a bare-bones introduction—son of a cop, abruptly decides to become a gangster when he is roughed up by cops after refusing to identify hitmen in a line-up. He joins the gang of old, invalid don Hashim (Goga Kapoor), whose two sons (Yashpal Sharma, Sushant Singh) do not take kindly to the new incumbent.

Deshu is intelligent and merciless, which allows him to rise very fast in the hierarchy and cause the sons to attack him in a jealous rage. But Deshu seems to accomplish all this with such ease, it seems far-fetched. You never know what exactly is the ‘dhanda’ they are into, and what ‘maal’ they deal in.

In between shootouts—in short, repetitive bursts—Deshu has an affair with an actress (Rukhsaar) and manages some political machinations, before deciding to move to London.

However, at no stage does the film involve the viewer, either in Deshu’s life, or in the endless gang wars. The promos said it was the story of one man who engulfed, monopolized and corporatized the underworld, the voiceover at the end says he brought the underworld to the “upperworld”– none of which is visible in the film—perhaps it will in the inevitable sequel (to be shot in London?)

All you see is Deshu and his men killing other gangsters… just the matter of being in the right place at the right time, and pulling out a gun faster. There didn’t seem to be any conscious strategizing.

The film is populated with the usual Varma actors who must probably be kept on hold, just in case extra gunmen are needed—plus some more, who seem to have been selected for their ugliness more than for talent.
This gangster ‘look’ is also such a cliché.

Randeep Hooda with his model looks and gym body does not look like a chawl boy, and he must have been told not to move a muscle on his face and deliver his line in a flat, expressionless way. But somehow, he doesn’t look convincing or real. Chunkey Pandey gets a couple of interesting scenes which he does well—his and Ishaa Koppikar’s (she plays his girlfriend) death sequence is truly harrowing, even in a film with such a high body-count.

Ultimately, D’s is quite unwatchable, hope it makes Varma give guns and goons a rest for a while.


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