D-Day Review

Nikhil Advani burst onto the scene with the incredibly touching Kal Ho Naa Ho but found it very difficult to find his footing in Bollywood after delivering duds like Salaam-e-Ishq, Chandni Chowk to China, and Patiala House. He also forayed into animation by making the enjoyable Delhi Safari, which released last year. With D-Day, though, he has taken a 360o turn by attempting something he has never tried before – a realistic espionage thriller completely set in Karachi, Pakistan.

Story: D-Day is about 4 Indian secret agents who have been entrusted with the task of getting back a Dawood-like character Iqbal Seth (Rishi Kapoor) back from Pakistan where the ISI has given him a safe haven. Wali Khan (Irrfan) has been living in Pakistan for nine years and has a wife and a daughter there. When the time of reckoning comes, he struggles in his decision to choose family or country. Captain Rudra Pratap Singh (Arjun Rampal), previously of the Indian Armed Forces has demons from his past which he can’t seem to shake off. Zoya Rehman (Huma Qureshi), the only female in the quartet of secret agents is a RAW explosives specialist. The last spy is a small time crook Aslam (Akaash Dahiya) who reluctantly becomes a secret agent to have his crimes wiped off the record. The story then moves forward as each agent deals with their inner turmoil. Are they able to bring Iqbal back to India? Check out the film for the answer!

D-DayD-Day Movie Review

Screenplay and Direction: While procedural realistic action films which deal with real geopolitical circumstances have become a mainstay in Hollywood, D-Day is probably the most genuine Bollywood attempt at this sort of a genre. The screenplay by Nikhil Advani, Ritesh Shah and Suresh Nair never loses touch with reality and it is evident that a lot of research has been poured onto the film. Nikhil Advani’s direction attains the desired impassive, granular tone thanks to the original screenplay he helped co-write. Nikhil has come a long way from Salaam-e-Ishq and every frame of D-Day bears testimony to that fact. D-Day is patriotic but in the most subtle way conceivable. The way Nikhil’s career goes from here on out will be interesting to observe.

Miscellaneous: D-Day would not have been half the film it is, if not for the taut workmanship demonstrated by the crew. The editing by Aarif Sheikh and Unni Krishnan is highly original and a few of the sequences stand out purely due to the deft editing work. The story as a whole benefits from the editing. The cinematography by Tushar Kanti Ray is also first rate. He captures the sets in a tone similar to Zero Dark Thirty, Argo and A Mighty Heart but it feels very new because Hindi films have never managed to get this look right. The production design by Rita Ghosh and Sukant Panigrahy is particularly admirable because the sets manage to look extremely realistic without making your mind wonder. The action sequences choreographed by Tom Struthers look and feel rational.

Music: Nikhil Advani has always trusted Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and the trio have seldom disappointed when it comes to their soundtracks for his films. Likewise, the music of D-Day is extremely atmospheric and stays true to the nature of the film without resorting to commercial traps. Even the remixed Mika-ised version of ‘Duma Dum’ feels lively. The standout track from D-Day however is the brooding, melancholic Alvida.

Acting: Mukesh Chhabra gets his casting right once again. Rishi Kapoor, who is on the form of his life, manages to make his Dawood interpretation charismatic and menacing. He is easily the most versatile actor in Hindi cinema right now. Irrfan is as dependable as he always has been and doesn’t set a foot wrong in D-Day as far as his acting is concerned. Arjun Rampal has come a long way and his performance is applause worthy even without being theatrical. Huma Qureshi, as usual, delivers another fine performance. It speaks volumes about how far Bollywood has come when actresses like Huma get roles they truly deserve. Akaash Dahiya plays Aslam with a fine tint of blameless authenticity. Shruti Hassan as the prostitute Suraiya who gets involved with Arjun Rampal’s character is another revelation in D-Day. She gets her role almost perfect as the sad, yet peaceful Suraiya. Sriswara playing Irrfan’s wife gives one of the film’s better performances.

Conclusion: As a film, D-Day is a marked improvement over all of Nikhil Advani’s previous films. He has come a long way since Kal Ho Naa Ho. D-Day is entertaining, realistic and slyly patriotic. Even though it does suffer from a few niggling loopholes and logical inconsistencies, the effort to do something new and credible is sincere. It definitely deserves to be seen.

Box Office: D-Day will take an average opening at best but I am sure the collections will improve as word gets out about the film’s quality and entertainment quotient. It has a 3 free weeks ahead of itself with no major competition. I will not be surprised if the film recovers its budget and earns itself a Hit tag.

Positives:

  • Realistic treatment of the spy action genre
  • The editing, the cinematography and production design
  • The action set-pieces
  • Performances of Rishi Kapoor, Irrfan, Huma Qureshi and Sriswara
  • Arjun Rampal’s best performance ever
  • The contemplative music goes well with the treatment of the film

Negatives:

  • A few loopholes and logical inconsistencies
  • The portrayal of politics in RAW wouldn’t be agreeable to a few people
Rating: ★★★½☆
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