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Review: Daddy – The white collar gangster leaves us conflicted.

Cast: Arjun Rampal, Aishwarya Rajesh, Farhan Akhtar, Nishikant Kamat
Directed by: Ashim Ahluwalia
Written by: Arjun Rampal and Ashim Ahluwalia
Prduced by: Arjun Rampal


Daddy is the biopic of ‘Arun Gawli’ who was a Mumbai gangster in the 80s and 90s. He grew up in the Dagdi Chawl and eventually, like most of the men there, became involved in gang activities. Along with him were Rama Naik (Rajesh Shringarpure) and Babu Reshim (Anand Ingale) and they formed the BRA gang. Maqsood (Farhan Akhtar) who had the monopoly of the gang activities in that area was the ‘Bhai’ they worked for but soon they wished to break free. So, they separated. However, when Babu Reshim is killed in jail and Rama is shot in what is disguised as a police encounter, Arun sees no other path than to take over and avenge his brothers. The journey he sets off on is not one he expects to return from. Following his every move is Inspector Vijaykar Nitin (Nishikant Kamat). Gangs are not the only ones fighting, the city’s politics comes into play and as they all clash, along with the police, you are left wondering – who is the real villian, circumstance or character?

Acting and Script –
Arjun Rampal is his usual incredible self as Arun Gawli. The audience is constantly torn between hating and respecting the character, and this conflict is only caused because of the actor’s very obvious dedication to the role. A soft whiff of Ajay Devgn’s Sultan Mirza is visible in his portrayal. He has us on the edge of our seats throughout the two and a half hours of the film. Nishikant Kamat plays Inspector Nitin who brought down this icon when he was at the height of his power. His complete dedication to the cause is inspiring but as Gawli’s wife reminds him, they are on opposite sides, but not that different. Parallels are seen and the character’s depth is hinted but not absolutely explored. Aishwarya Rajesh is the female lead as Asha Gawli and blows us away with the layers she brings to the character. She plays the conflicting qualities as a caring lover and conscientious mother very well and does not leave us wanting. Anand Ingale and Rajesh Shringarpure play two thirds of the BRA gang and although their bond is not properly shown, especially Naik and Gawli’s friendship, they do play typical baddies, letting us hate them.

Direction and Cinematography –
The direction and cinematography are done quite well. The time period is kept in mind and all the important areas are covered. The atmosphere of the Bombay riots and the Ganesh processions, along with the gang turmoil is incredibly shot, without over stating or over dramatizing. Even the item/disco music videos were not unnecessarily sexualised. They made their point and quietly moved on. There is no unnecessary glamour here, as often is in films set in the 70s to 90s. Jessica Lee Gagne and Pankaj Kumar really bring alive the period in the city of dreams for us.

Music –
The background score is the real winner here. It is beautifully composed and very well set in the film. Sajid-Wajid have really outdone themselves with this particular score! Apart from that, the Qawwaali, sung by Shabab Sabri, Tanvir Hussain is soulful and alluring. What’s a Marathi biopic without at least one Ganesh song? “Aala Re Aala Ganesha” by Wajid & Dr. Ganesh Chandanshive is much like any other Ganesh Chathurthi song, accompanied by views of processions and colors. “Zindagi Mera Dance Dance” by Alisha Chinai & Vijay Benedict, although not that catchy, is a good one time hear and filmed quite well, keeping the bars of the time period in mind.

All in all, it’s a film that deserves to be watched at least once. It leaves you conflicted about the character of a man who killed thousands and yet managed to win the hearts of millions.

By : Divya Mehta

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