Saturday, July 20, 2013


What If...?

D-Day is a wish-fulfillment fantasy for Indians. At many a party or coffee table discussion, the point about India not being able to send a team of covert operatives to deal with the ‘D Company’ problem comes up, particularly after the US got to the world’s most dreaded terrorist hiding out in Pakistan.

While so many filmmakers are busy glorifying gangsters, Nikhil Advani’s D-Day is about a small group of dedicated RAW agents, who put their lives at stake to nab Iqbal (Rishi Kapoor), a fictional don (obviously based on a real-life criminal mastermind) orchestrated “unofficially” by their Chief, Ashwini (Nasser).

Hollywood does this sort of thing very well, peppering their films with great action, and unencumbered by the need for romance, music or heightened drama.  The premise of D-Day is fabulous, and if Advani could trim the fat, it would have been a great entertainer. Even with its maze-like plotting and needless digressions, it is a fairly absorbing film, with a final burst of jingoism. 

Wali Khan (Irrfan) lives with his wife (Shriswara) and son in Karachi, an undercover agent for nine years, hoping for one lead that will make his existence worthwhile. When he gets news of the wedding of Iqbal’s son at a Karachi hotel, he kicks into motion the plan to catch the don and take him to India.  Joining the team are other covert operatives, Rudra (Arjun Rampal), Zoya (Huma Qureshi) and Aslam (Akash Dahiya).

Their attempt fails; the Indian government professes ignorance of the plan and leaves the four to fend for themselves.  A brisk, fast-paced, no-nonsense film might have worked better, but Advani meanders off into Rudra’s passion for a prostitute (Shruti Hassan), Wali’s concern for his family and Huma’s marriage breaking down.

On the plus side, the four are not robots, the emotional conflicts in their lives are part of their personalities, making their thankless sacrifice even more poignant. The complicated political ramifications of the operation slow down the pace. That the RAW team actually wants to bring Iqbal to India to face trial, might seem a bit too idealistic (or faintly ridiculous), knowing our legal system, which their prey is only too familiar with and talks about with contempt.

Rishi Kapoor plays the character with flamboyance, his speech peppered with Marathi, and brings such menace into his bearing, that he dwarfs everyone else in the frame.  Irrfan has the tougher part, since his Wali Khan has the most to lose, Arjun Rampal gets to play the stone-faced fauji, and Huma Qureshi the femme fatale, and they do well.

The look of the film is dark and realistic, the action gritty, even if there are some curious slips like Iqbal’s nephew being allowed to attack the prostitute for sheltering Rudra, with Pakistan’s army general standing around, and an absence of any police action, or tracing of cell phones, even though a hotel is blown up and innocents killed.  Still, it has enough merit to warrant a visit to the cinemahall.


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