If only Bollywood ran our intelligence operations. Nikhil Advani, who debuted with Kal Ho Na Ho, believes the best way to catch Dawood is to send four people with troubled personal lives to Pakistan; maybe get one of them to live there for a decade before he gets into the action. And the best place to corner an international don is at a relative’s wedding. Awww. To be fair, the man who goes by the name Goldman (Rishi Kapoor) is not explicitly stated to be Dawood, and seems goofy enough to take the risks RAW hopes he will.
Advani’s effort in this film is a rather decent improvement on the work he has done thus far – his repertoire includes Chandni Chowk to China and Salaam-e-ishq. While the film borders on wish-fulfilment fantasy, it isn’t entirely inconceivable that things might unfold this way in the real world. Fortunately, it doesn’t portray all Pakistanis as evil people who are out to destroy India. However, it does credit Goldman with every terror attack that India has ever suffered.
There are some things about the film I did really like. One of these is the dig Advani takes at the man his namesake labelled “lame duck prime minister”. The Indian PM in D-Day is frequently called by a “Madam”, who instructs him on every move. And Irrfan Khan’s skilled acting brings layers to his character, which the narrative hasn’t otherwise provided for.
But the back stories of the four agents – played by Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Huma Qureshi and Aakash Dahiya – don’t add much heft to the plot. Often, they peg it down and slow down the film with redundant love scenes. That said, they are a good excuse to bring in some beautiful, soulful music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.
The weakest link in the film is the contrived love story between an Indian agent (Arjun Rampal) and a Pakistani prostitute (Shruti Haasan), which ends in a messy vendetta tale. The better-executed strand is the troubled marriage of Zoya (Huma Qureshi), whose husband we only hear over the phone, trying to make things work despite the physical and emotional distance.
My favourite subplot has to do with Wali Khan (Irrfan Khan), who is forced to choose between his duty and his instincts. Mainly because of Irrfan’s skill, several scenes are heart-rending.
Though the film doesn’t wave the national flag at us in every scene, the pedestrian dialogue is irritatingly crowd-pleasing – it borders on rabble-rousing.
The Verdict: If you do like to watch the sort of films where Bollywood solves all India’s problems, you will like D-Day.