Review: Daddy

The title card at the beginning declares the film to be based on a true story. With the Gandhi cap, the prosthetically altered nose, the manner of speech and the intense look, there was going to be little doubt that it wouldn’t be a biopic. But the moot point is – how much of the film’s storyline was (not) in public domain? Producer and Co-writer Arjun Rampal has undeniably given one of his best performances as the protagonist (or antagonist?) Arun Gawli in the eponymous ‘Daddy’.
The film charts the life of the rags- to-riches Arun, but sadly only from the late 70’s, coinciding with the long drawn-out strike which left most of the city’s mill workers in penury. His association with Babu Reshim (Anand Ingle) and Rama Naik (Rajesh Shringarpure) prompted the local cops to dub it the BRA gang, an epithet shown literally in the film.
Ahluwalia, while taking care to reproduce the 70’s and early 80’s feel, ensures the authenticity of the period details. Names like Newman, Sada and Pamphlet Bandya too are retained. While Gawli’s association with his future wife Zubeida (credible performance by Aishwarya Rajesh) later rechristened Asha, is poignantly drawn out, one wishes at least 10-15 minutes could have been devoted to his early childhood.
The film begins with the killing of an anti-Gawli MLA at the MLA quarters in 2011; then goes into a non-linear mode with a flashback to the 70’s, then to 2012 and so forth. A major part of the film, though, is reserved for the bitter animosity between Inspector Vijaykar (Nishikant Kamat), avowed to incarcerating the Dagdi Chawl Robin hood, and Gawli.
With some admirable cinematography, ‘Daddy’ is one of the better gangster flicks – but did Farhan Akhtar (in an utterly unconvincing impersonation) playing Maqsood – based on Dawood – have to be perpetually shown wearing those yellow-tinted shades?

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