Daddy - 6 Takeaways From Arjun Rampal's Film

In Daddy, Arjun Rampal scores 10 on 10 but Farhan Akhtar (as Dawood Ibrahim) gave his "worst performance"

Mumbai: Arjun Rampal's latest film Daddy deals with the life and times of Mumbai-based gangster Arun Gawli who is currently serving a life sentence. Arjun Rampal and filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia collaborated for the first time for this ambitious film on Gawli. From the first poster itself, one thing was clear - that Arjun Rampal had got the look right and that's one of the most important things in a biographical film. But is that enough? Here are my six takeaways from Daddy.

1) Arjun Rampal Is A Serious Actor: It may have taken me 16 years to say this, but yes this model can act. In fact, this is Rampal's best performance till date. He started with Pyar Ishq Aur Mohabbat in 2001 and has done many over the years, but he was never able to establish himself as a serious actor despite winning a National Award for Rock On!! Now that changes with Daddy as Arjun Rampal pulls off the role of Arun Gawli with such ease. For his portrayal of the dreaded don, he gets a 10 on 10.


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2) Farhan Akhtar In His Worst Performance: In Daddy, Farhan Akhtar plays Dawood Ibrahim. It's an important role with quite a few scenes. This was meant to be crucial because Gawli shines in the underworld as he is the only one who is not scared of the dreaded Dawood Ibrahim. In Daddy, Farhan has zero presence when it comes to playing Dawood. None of us have even seen a picture of Dawood so fit and nor was he this polished in whatever bits we saw in the news. The makers thought that all it takes is to wear oversized shades to pull off the role of Dawood Ibrahim. Anurag Kashyap had just one scene of Dawood Ibrahim in Black Friday, the fear that scene creates can't be described in words. It gave an idea of what the don must be like. Each time Farhan Akhtar comes on screen, the seriousness of the story drops. This will go down in one of the worst castings ever in a Hindi film. Trust me, Dawood deserved better!

3) Gawli's Story Was Waiting To Be Told: Bollywood filmmakers look all over for stories but wonder why it took them so long to make a mainstream film on Mumbai's gangster Arun Gawli. It is one of the easiest stories to research since people who know him, cops who put him behind bars and neighbours and friends in Dagdi Chawl fill the city. It's a fascinating story because Gawli stands out in the underworld as the only gangster who didn't leave the country like Chhota Rajan, Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel, Abu Salem, Tiger Memon, Anees Ibrahim and others. He is a gangster who is worshipped by people in Dagdi Chawl in Central Mumbai - so much so that he even won elections from there. Dawood's story has been told time and again by filmmakers - this gangster's story is as fascinating.


4) Never Get An Art-house Director For A Commercial Story: Before Daddy, Ashim Ahluwalia has made documentaries and a film called Miss Lovely (2012). His style of filmmaking is niche and art-house, which makes him the wrong choice for a solid commercial film like Daddy. I didn't even get a feel of what his den in Dagdi Chawl must be like and nor is there any fear in any of his or Dawood's scenes. These dreaded gangsters were all about the fear that they created. That's what Ram Gopal Verma managed to do in Company, Mahesh Manjrekar in Vaastav and Milan Luthria in Once Upon A Time In Mumbai. Daddy is too bland, so one doesn't understand what the big deal about Gawli is. This film only works because the magic is in the story and the lead actor's performance.

5) Arun Gawli Is Scared Stiff: He may be one of the most ruthless gangsters and may not think twice (or even once) before pulling the trigger, but he is scared for his life like anyone else. This comes across well in Daddy. It will be quite an eye-opener for many that Gawli is scared for his life all the time. Since the Mumbai police in encounters have killed his friends, he always fears he is next. He doesn't want to come out of jail because that's a safe place for him, that's where he won't be killed. He refuses to sign bail papers because he wants to stay in prison.

6) Did Arun Gawli Deserve A Second Chance? Arun Gawli is a gangster who killed people and is behind bars for his crimes. The magic of cinema is such that it humanizes his journey from this ordinary chawl boy Arun to gangster Daddy. He didn't want to participate in the first big crime that his friends committed but under the circumstances, he had little choice. After all that he did, he even won the elections, and he continues to be the respected Daddy for the people of Dagdi Chawl. One of the best scenes is where Gawli, an elected MLA, is speaking in the assembly but others don't let him talk or give him a chance, and that's what he asks for, one more chance. He never got one and rightly so as the law doesn't allow that, especially to dreaded goons like Gawli. But the execution of the scene makes you question the rotten system that produces these dons.

(Rohit Khilnani is a senior entertainment journalist based in Mumbai, he is also the author of the book I Hate Bollywood. Information about box-office collections and whereabouts of films stars is at the back of his hand. He starts and ends his day by taking his dog, for walks)

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