Dar Motion Pictures and Emmay Entertainment’s D-Day (UA) is the story of a dreaded terrorist, popularly known as Goldman (Rishi Kapoor) who is holed up in Pakistan and whom the RAW in India is trying hard to get to India as he is the most wanted criminal here. Ashwini Rao (Nasser), a senior official of RAW, has sent four under-cover agents to Karachi to nab Goldman but the mission has been unsuccessful since years. Wali Khan (Irrfan Khan), living with his wife, Nafisa (Shriswara), and little son, Kabir (master Divij Handa), runs a hair-cutting saloon in Karachi and works as a barber in it. Rudra, an ex-army officer, comes to Karachi and often visits a prostitute (Shruti Haasan) whom he starts loving and who also falls in love with him. Zoya (Huma Qureshi) comes to Karachi and checks in into the posh Baituz Zahab Hotel where Goldman’s son is to be married to a leading Pakistani cricketer’s (Jehangir) daughter. Aslam (Aakash Dahiya) works as Goldman’s driver and is his trusted man.
Much against the Army General’s (K.K. Raina) wishes, Goldman decides to throw security to the winds and attend the marriage of his son, more so because he had forgone attending the nikaah of his own daughter. Despite security of the highest order, the four RAW agents strike at the wedding venue and corner Goldman just as he arrives in his car to the hotel. As bad luck would have it, their attempt is foiled and Goldman escapes, particularly because Wali Khan stops Rudra from killing the terrorist. It is Wali Khan’s dream to take the dreaded criminal alive to India.
Just before Operation Goldman, which it is called, Wali Khan has packed off his illiterate wife and son to London. But, as bad luck would have it, the two, like thousands of other travellers to Europe, are stranded at Pakistan airport itself after all flights to Europe are cancelled indefinitely. Since Wali Khan has stopped using the cell phone he was using, after dropping his wife and son at the airport, they are unable to contact him. After the attempt on Goldman’s life, the Pakistani authorities use their intelligence agencies to find out the persons behind the Operation. They get to know about all four agents. They hold Wali Khan’s wife and child captive and torture them mentally in a bid to make Wali Khan surrender. They also reach the prostitute to get the whereabouts of Rudra. In the course of the Operation, Zoya’s marriage breaks off. Aslam becomes a nervous wreck because he realises, the days of a traitor – who he has become for Goldman – are numbered. To make matters worse, the Indian government, much to the shock of the four agents and the dismay of Ashwini Rao, disowns the agents after the failed attempt on Goldman’s life. With no backing from their own government and being hounded by the Pakistani government, the four agents are at their wits’ end. Aslam wants that they all should run away from Pakistan.
Soon, Wali Khan gets the news that his wife is dead and his little son is alone at the airport. Fatherly love prompts him to give up everything and reach out to his helpless child. But Rudra and Zoya want to try just one last time. Does Wali Khan listen to them or do family emotions get the better of him? So, do they give the mission one last try? Are the four together or do Wali Khan and Aslam go their separate ways? Is Wali Khan’s wife dead or is the news a trap to nab him? Does Wali Khan meet his wife and child? Does the prostitute spill the beans about Rudra? Do Wali Khan and Rudra work as members of a team or do cracks develop in their relations? Does Zoya succeed in keeping the team together? Is Goldman arrested by the secret agents and, if yes, is he taken to India alive or dead? What stance do the Pakistani government and its ISI take? What happens to the secret mission, to Wali Khan, to Rudra, to Zoya, to Aslam and to Goldman?
The story is, quite obviously, inspired by the story of dreaded terrorist Dawood Ibrahim and the drama, therefore, engages the audience right from the word ‘go’. Except for changes in the names of the characters, the other references like those to India and Pakistan are so blatant that there remains no doubt in the viewers’ minds that they are watching, albeit fictionalised, the story of Dawood Ibrahim and of the kind never before seen on the Indian screen.
Nikhil Advani, Ritesh Shah and Suresh Nair’s story is very engaging and arrests the audience’s attention as soon as it starts. The screenplay, also penned by the trio, is very engrossing and although it may lack in entertainment of the usual kind, it has tremendous power to involve the audience. The structure of the screenplay is excellent insofar as the film opens with the four secret agents cornering Goldman in an encounter which could just have succeeded. It then goes into flashbacks but since the start is so engaging and shocking, even some dull moments in the flashbacks are taken by the audiences (particularly, class audiences) in their stride. Yes, the film lacks in light moments and humour but that seems to be the writers’ conscious choice rather than a flaw. The writers have taken the serious path even if it means sacrificing light moments and letting the film become tension-ridden and heavy, probably because they did not want to dilute the impact of the drama. Wali Khan’s family drama and Rudra’s love story definitely add the emotional quotient in the otherwise serious drama, reducing, to a large extent, the impact of the absence of light moments in the film. But it must be added that the drama, at places, becomes difficult for the masses to comprehend. However, the classes and city audience will simply love it all through, save a few points where its pace drops. The last about half hour of the drama is very interesting, engaging and enjoyable, not just for the classes but for the masses too. The climax is outstanding and will be met with thunderous applause in the cinemas. Two points here about the climax: one, there is a twist in it, which will leave the audience shocked and thrilled; secondly, there is a fairly long anti-India dialogue by Goldman, which – believe it or not – will draw a lot of laughter and, maybe, even a round of applause from the Indian audience but what follows that will evoke an even louder round of applause. In that sense, the film becomes one which inspires a sense of patriotism among the audience. Unfortunately, the audience might, from the trailers of the film, feel that this is yet another underworld film of the kind seen many times earlier, but what it actually is is a film which makes every Indian feel proud about what India is capable of doing even if it may not have done it so far.
Dialogues, written by Ritesh Shah and Niranjan Iyengar, are fantastic and force the viewers to sit up and take note.
Rishi Kapoor never ceases to surprise the audience and this award-winning performance of his is one more feather in his cap. He plays Goldman to such perfection that one can’t believe, the man playing India’s most wanted terrorist was once among India’s foremost lover boys. Kudos to Rishi Kapoor for slipping so easily into the character of the detested criminal. The few dialogues he mouths in Marathi are delightful! Irrfan Khan is another world-class actor we have and this is another award-winning performance from him. He will make the weak-hearted cry in the scene in which he pleads with Rudra and Zoya to let him go to meet his son, constantly referring to the sweater he had bought for him and which he can’t find now. His climax twist comes as a shock to the viewers. Arjun Rampal springs a very pleasant surprise as the silent yet angry secret agent who also has a lover in him. He does a wonderful job and will win accolades galore for his underplayed acting. Huma Qureshi does supreme justice to her role. She plays Zoya very effectively, sometimes confident, sometimes confused, sometimes loud and crass, sometimes sophisticated to the hilt. Aakash Dahiya is excellent in the role of Aslam and brilliantly conveys his fears after the failed Operation. Shruti Haasan looks beautiful and approaches her role with a certain elegance mixed with trepidation. Shriswara makes an outstanding debut in the role of Wali Khan’s illiterate wife. Her breakdown in front of the investigating officer is heart-wrenching. Nasser is extraordinary as RAW officer Ashwini Rao. K.K. Raina performs with a lot of dignity as Army General Raza. Chandan Roy Sanyal plays to the gallery as the eccentric nephew of Goldman. Imran Hasnee (as Saleem Pathan), Nisaar Khan (as Niyaaz Ahmed), Sandeep Kulkarni (as Mishra), master Divij Handa (as Kabir) and Pravina Deshpande (as wife of Ashwini Rao) provide very able support.
A special word here about casting director Mukesh Chhabra. His work is praiseworthy.
Nikhil Advani’s direction is of a high order. He has handled a very difficult subject with the confidence of a seasoned narrator. Had his narrative style been even a bit off the mark, the drama could have seemed to be a joke. Nikhil deserves a lot of praise for extracting such wonderful work from out of his actors and for making a film which will instill a sense of pride among Indians. Without making it seem like a sermon, he has made a film which engages, entertains ( a bit differently) and evokes a feeling of patriotism in the viewers. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is melodious and complements the mood of the film but it is not at all mass-appealing. ‘Alvida’, ‘Murshid khele Holi’ and ‘Dhuan’ are very good class-appealing songs, well-worded by Niranjan Iyengar. The remixed version of ‘Damadam mast kalandar’ is mass-appealing. Choreography (by Feroz Khan) is alright. Background music (Tubby-Parik) is excellent. Action and stunt scenes, choreographed by Thomas Struthers and Guru Bachchan and co-ordinated by John Street and Amin Arif, are as real as real can be and will appeal to the masses and the classes. Tushar Kanti Ray’s cinematography is superb. Rita Ghosh and Sukant Panigrahy deserve distinction marks for their art direction and production design respectively. Aarif Sheikh’s editing is supremely sharp. Production val- ues and technical aspects are very good.
On the whole, D-Day is an enjoyable fare and one which inspires a feeling of patriotism in the viewers. But it is more for the evolved audience. Its showcasing in the multiplexes is bad and, coupled with its poor start and unexciting title, this will mar the film’s box-office prospects and potential. Of course, collections will pick up due to positive word of mouth but the dull start is bound to play the proverbial villain, in the final tally. The film will win critical acclaim and will be a strong contender in many categories at the awards. Its business will be more in the cinemas frequented by class audiences and in the big cities.
N.B.: It needs to be underlined that the poor showcasing (odd and few shows in multiplexes) will, very unfortunately, definitely not let the film reach its true potential. Shame on the multiplex programmers for not giving the film its due in terms of shows.