Bloody Daddy opens with an extremely brief history of the COVID-19 pandemic and the way it affected the world: several lives were lost and so were scores of livelihoods.
This opening perhaps explains why there is nobody but a security guard in sight when two men, Sumair Azad (Shahid Kapoor) and Jaggi (Zeishan Quadri) orchestrate a public shootout and one fight-and-chase sequence later, they obtain a bag of drugs.
That’s the ‘bloody’ part. We’re then introduced to Sumair’s son Atharv who is currently vacationing with him, away from Sumair’s ex-wife and her partner. Everyone around him chides him for being irresponsible; as a father, as a husband, as a person.
These two incidents come together in the most Taken (think Liam Neeson) of ways and Sumair is on a quest to get his son back from dangerous criminals. So far, a pretty basic action-thriller premise and that doesn’t change throughout the rest of the film. As is expected, more adversaries are introduced and everything starts going haywire for the main character.
It is immensely enjoyable that Sumair isn't an underdog who somehow finds his winning streak to use it to manoeuvre every stumbling block.
Kapoor’s Sumair is more Sunny from Farzi than Kabir Singh and that’s a relief. The actor imbibes the angry, brooding, and frustrated hero into himself and it’s more than delightful to watch. The script requires a certain level of vanity from Sumair and Kapoor manages to deliver. Sumair’s paths soon cross with a hotelier-cum-drug lord Sikander (Ronit Roy).
Like Kapoor, this is a role Roy could sketch out and play in his sleep. Being domineering and menacing seems to come naturally to the actor but this role allows him to show off his comic chops as well (if one remembers, witty repartee was a staple of his show Adaalat). He is given enough screen time but not enough heft in the screenplay and that is what takes away from what could’ve been the film’s most enjoyable role.
One thing that surprised me about Bloody Daddy is that in some parts it is genuinely hilarious; Sumair’s frustration at his life falling apart, Sikander absolute disbelief of how incredulous everything happening around him is. But this laughter-potential, that admittedly elevates the film a bit, lies primarily in the first half, the more agreeable part of the film.
The first half is enticing enough to almost lull you into letting your inhibitions go and giving yourself to the hammy cat-and-mouse chase. The COVID pandemic touch helps explain a lot of the film's setting.
It's a theme that is astutely used across the film: the streets are empty, a hotelier is surge-pricing cocaine. It's these little touches where it seems like the writers are just having fun with the film's premise that keeps you hooked for a while.
The second half becomes all about the vengeance with one action scene following another and a climax that’s pretty much evident from the get-go considering how much the film loves its main lead. Director Ali Abbas Zafar adapted the French film Nuit Blanche for this venture and despite the fact that he and co-writer Aditya Basu attempted to tweak the screenplay to suit their audience, it falls short of being a gripping film.
Bloody Daddy is a man’s world through and through with one token female cop Aditi played by Diana Penty. Aditi is apparently good enough to be trusted with this important a mission but she constantly makes rookie mistakes, undermining herself and squandering any hope of having even one effective female character in the mix.
Marcin Laskawiec’s cinematography is effective for a film like this; it walks the lines of disaster comedy and neo-noir action. The action sequences come across slightly shabby but that’s more because of the choreography (hand-to-hand combat seems notoriously difficult to structure).
But the camera paints everything well, the emptiness of the vast city, the extravagance of the ‘seven-star’ hotel the majority of the film is based in, and the dark underbelly of the crime world that festers within.
The emotional heft you’d expect from a film about a man separated from his son is mostly absent from the film and comes through only through Kapoor’s acting. There’s really nothing else tying the audience to this seemingly terse bond.
All in all, Bloody Daddy starts off in full steam, contrasting the violence and chaos of the film with the serene, dilapidated silence of the pandemic, but towards the end it loses this steam.
A stronger second half that relied more on suspense than bullets flying haphazardly towards unsuspecting targets would have tied together a decent film but alas, it all unspools and even a brooding, sleek Shahid Kapoor can barely hold it taut.
Bloody Daddy is streaming on JioCinema.