After the splendid Miss Lovely, director Ashim Ahluwalia is back with his latest venture, Daddy. The film is loosely based on the life of gangster-turned-MLA Arun Gawli. But the film reveals its tendency to airbrush Gawli's life from the word go.
When Gawli asks his daughter what people mean when they refer to him as ‘Robin Hood,’ she replies: “Aap chor hain, par villain nahi”.
The film, written by Ahluwalia and Arjun Rampal, painstakingly puts together a portrait of Gawli as a loving family man who becomes a victim of circumstances.
It’s difficult to make an engaging film on a widely publicised story like that of Gawli, but the non-linear narrative trajectory draws up a taut plot.
Gawli and his friends Babu (Anand Ingale) and Rama (Rajesh Shringarpure) claim their stake on Dagdi Chawl. As the ‘bhai’ culture grips Mumbai, the trio’s dadagiri begins to challenge the reign of Maqsood, another don. Maqsood’s character mirrors that of Dawood, and the actor essaying the role springs a surprise.
Echoes of gunshots begin to ricochet around the city and a dreaded gang war renders the police and law and order machinery ineffective.
It is through investigating officer Vijaykar (Nishikant Kamat), that we see Gawli, as he goes from a mill worker’s son, who falls into the web of crime owing to a lack of better opportunities and bad company.
Rampal and his prosthetic nose mean business here. Rampal is suitably restrained, his command over his character never slips and his Marathi accent is on point throughout.
The slick pace of the first-half of Daddy keeps us engaged as we meet the other cohorts who set out on a killing rampage.
Aishwarya Rajesh, who plays Gawli’s wife, fits the bill perfectly, while Kamat makes a powerful statement as the menacing police officer who leaves no stone unturned to get Gawli behind bars.
One of Daddy’s best touches is its successful recreation of Mumbai in the 70s and 80s.
After the interval, however, nothing really seems to come together. Some side-plots – like the meeting between Gawli's wife and the police officer Vijaykar are brusquely abandoned.
Such is the rush to put a halo over the gangster that we are deprived of some genuinely intriguing moments.
Why did Gawli choose the path he did? How did his eventual change of heart come about? These questions are only superficially explored.
Daddy, sadly, isn't the ‘baap’ of gangster flicks. What it is, however, is a strictly one-time watch for the sake of Rampal and Kamat.
2.5 Quints out of 5
Producer: Vivek Das
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Editor: Puneet Bhatia
(#TalkingStalking: Have you ever been stalked? Share your experience with The Quint and inspire others to shatter the silence surrounding stalking. Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp @ +919999008335)