Cast – Arjun Rampal, Aishwarya Rajesh, Nishant Kamat, Farhan Akhtar, Anand Ingale, Rajesh Shringarpore
- Directed by – Ashim Ahluwalia
- Produced by – Arjun Rampal, Rutvij Patel
- Written by – Ashim Ahluwalia, Arjun Rampal
- Dialogues – Ritesh Shah
- Music by – Sajid Ali, Wajid Ali
- Cinematography – Jessica Lee Gagné, Pankaj Kumar
- Edited by – Deepa Bhatia, Navnita Sen Datta
- Distributed by – Raksha Entertainment
- Duration – 2 hours 14 minutes
- Censor Rating – A
- Genre – Crime, Drama, Biography
The story of Arun Gawli – from a shy young boy of the Dagdi slum to the nefarious member of the BRA (Babu-Rama-Arun) gang to a failed politician – is not a new one. Daddy’s plot is an oft repeated, all-too-familiar one. Mill worker’s son from a poor family takes to crime. Arun Gulab Gawli’s entry into underworld is quite by accident and despite his attempts. His friendship with Babu (Anand Ingale) and Rama (Rajesh Shringarpore) and the patronage of a don, Maqsood (Farhan Akhtar), propel them further into infamy. Set in the backdrop of this bloodshed and violence is Gawli’s love story with Zubeida (Aishwarya Rajesh) who becomes his wife.
Brushes with the police become regular and Maqsood becomes a rival rather a mentor. Even as Rama and Babu are both killed, Arun emerges as the leader of his gang and Dagdi becomes impenetrable fortress. With the introduction of TADA and Maqsood’s flight to Dubai Gawli chooses to stay at the safest place possible – in prison. After about a decade of controlling from behind bars, Gawli decides to enter politics but fails to garner the respect he hopes to get. His crimes ultimately catch up with him and he is sent away to serve a long sentence.
The story of gangster Arun Gawli offers no surprises, not that we expected any. The responsibility of holding the audience in awe then falls on the narrative but this too fails to offer any novelty or thrill. This is Daddy’s greatest shortcoming.
While Arjun Rampal – the lead man – has rendered a brilliant performance as the reluctant gangster neither the dialogues nor the interactions between the characters bring traction. We do not see Gawli’s benevolent Godfather-like persona, nor do we get a glimpse of the ruthless cunning that translates into survival in the shady lanes of Mumbai. Gawli earned his reputation as the Robin Hood of Mumbai but the movie fails to reflect this aspect of the mobster. Most of the tale is told in sepia toned flashbacks and fail at introducing any element of excitement.
And despite your fame, Mr. Ahluwalia, Daddy will neither leave a lasting impression on film lovers nor rake in box office earnings to justify your venture.
The Gawli-Zubeida love story, too, falls flat and turns into a boring affair with none of the passion that that Mani Ratnam managed to bring into Nayakan – a 1989 film with a similar plot. Farhan’s character too lacks menace but comes across as a suave rival.
What makes Daddy watchable if at all is the bewitching camerawork. Jessica Lee Gagné does her bit to keep the movie going and the audience awake.
Now let us turn to take a look at the two men behind Daddy – the director, Ashim Ahluwalia, and the producer/writer/actor – Arjun Rampal. There is a reason every movie has a director. A plot well written still needs a sound execution to become a success. While Rampal put in his heart and soul into transforming himself into Gawli and helped write a story that in the hands of a better director may have had the trappings of a box office success, we fear Daddy will only be counted among his failures.
The music by Sajid Ali and Wajid Ali is mediocre at best. What made the film watchable was the rather accurate but mildly interesting depiction of Mumbai and the changes in its society over the years.
Daddy is a film that could have been a lot more. As it is families with young adults and kids are likely to avoid a film rated “A” due to its violent content. Those who love crime dramas too may avoid this flick which is bland at worst and patchy at best. Released over a weekend when it faces competition from Poster Boys, Mr Kabaddi, and The Rally, we’re not sure if Daddy will be a delight to its producers either
Rating – **