Arjun Rampal is back on the big screen today with Daddy, a biopic on gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli. Unlike past Bollywood films on gangsters like Maya Dolas, Haji Mastan or Manya Surve, that took us to the life and times of some of the most dreaded and notorious individuals who are now dead, Daddy tells the tale of Mumbai’s Dagdi Chawl’s Gawli, who is serving life imprisonment in jail right now. Interesting much? I thought so too. Add to it Arjun Rampal’s look as the gangster which was beyond belief. The film Daddy showed potential to be one of its kind gangster flicks. Also Read - Spotted! Arjun Rampal, Dia Mirza, Ranbir Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan Clicked in Mumbai
Does Daddy live up to expectations? Read my review… Also Read - Dhaakad New Poster Out: Arjun Rampal is 'Dangerous, Deadly And Cool' As Rudraveer
What’s it about Also Read - Bollywood Drugs Case: NCB Summons Arjun Rampal’s Sister Komal Rampal For Interrogation
Arun Gawli (Arjun Rampal) from Byculla, Dagdi Chawl is just a regular young guy who is forced to turn into a local goon to get rid of his poverty post the mills in Mumbai were locked down. But once you start treading down a dark alley, there is often no light to guide you back home. Arun finds himself in a similar, difficult situation where each time he tries to get out of the muck, he is dragged deeper into it. He starts as a goon, with don Maqsood (Farhan Akhtar) acting as the wind under his wings, and gradually turns into gangster who is much feared in areas of central Mumbai. But there comes a chance to change things and start anew. While he is ready to put his past behind him, there are a lot of nemesis – old and new – that won’t let him succeed. But apart from nemesis, his Robinhood-esque ways have made him the Daddy for his people who see him as their hero, their saviour. Life may only be about black and white, but you will find Arun Gawli walking on the grey line.
Two basics of a gangster film are to get the look and mannerisms of the personality right and to get the period the film is set in correct. Daddy gets a 10 on 10 for both these aspects. Director Ashim Ahluwalia does a fab job in re-creating the Mumbai of the 70s and 80s, with the background score complementing the look and feel of the era. ALSO READ: Arjun Rampal’s Daddy Will Be A Treat For All His Fans
Talking about the performances, Arjun Rampal has always been impressive when he is given a character that needs to deliver a restrained performance. Daddy gives him immense scope to talk with his intense eyes and use his heavy baritone to create a powerful aura that his role as Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli requires. Special mention: A couple of scenes where Arjun’s character is in jail and has his wife visiting him, sees his vulnerable, almost psychotic side, exposing a phobia ridden individual’s mental state.
Casting of the other characters is on point. Farhan Akhtar as Maqsood (a powerful character inspired by Dawood Ibrahim) gives a reigned in performance that exudes power and menace. Aishwarya Rajesh as Gawli’s wife Asha Gawli does a convincing job. Nishikant Kamath as cop Vijaykar, who leaves no stone unturned to get his hands on Gawli, is great and will remind you of Nana Patekar.
Director Ashim Ahluwalia comes from an arty background and perhaps that’s what forces him to treat the film in a way that despite being a commercial film, it ends up looking like a docu-drama. ALSO READ: Sunny Deol’s Poster Boys To Outdo Arjun Rampal’s Daddy At The Box Office, Reveals Trade Expert
The script lacks the punch and fails to deliver any heart-racing moments due to it’s slow pace. We have seen gangster films like Shootout At Lokhandwala (Maya Dolas); Shootout At Wadala (Manya Surve); Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (Haji Mastan) in recent times. Unlike these gems, Daddy doesn’t give you much to talk, think or feel about. It had potential to become the Baap of all gangster films we have seen so far, considering that it is based on a living person. Also, he is a lesser known gangster, not just for the Pan Indian audience, but also for those in Mumbai. His legend wasn’t really famous outside Dagdi Chawl.
But clearly, the story isn’t well researched. What beats me is… if Arun Gawli as a person, as a story was not interesting and intriguing enough, why make a film on him? Even then, since it is a film made for commercial purpose, why not add a dash of fiction to spice it up?
What to do
Watch it for Arjun Rampal for he delivers one of his finest performances till date. And also if you like gangster movies sans any blood, gore and action.
India.com rating: 2.5 stars