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D-DAY - One of the best spy movies from Bollywood which still remains more of a critics delight than a masses film. (Review by Bobby Sing)

22 Jul, 2013 | Movie Reviews / 2013 Releases


Hindi Cinema has not seen many well made and major box office successes in the particular genre of spy-thrillers featuring special agents sent on a deadly mission. Yes, there have been hits in the past as ANKHEN (1968) and AGENT VINOD (1977). But in the recent decades this has not been one of the favourite genres of Bollywood directors with an occasional 16 DECEMBER (2002), THE HERO (2003) or VISHWAROOPAM (2013) being made after long gaps (and NO, I don’t consider EK THA TIGER (2012) as any spy thriller at all). Hence firstly, D-DAY & its makers deserve a special appreciation just for the very reason of making a brave choice of this genre alone and then further it needs to be applauded for an exceptional execution which certainly reminds you of many well made foreign movies in the ‘World cinema’.
If one considers the film’s ‘out of the box’ presentation, its sharply edited sequences and many selfless performances by the cast, then only a few directors come to your mind led by RGV kind of film-making group in the industry. But I never expected Nikhil Advani the man behind, KAL HO NA HO (2003), SALAAM-E-ISHQ (2007), CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA (2009) and PATIALA HOUSE (2011) coming up with such an intense, hard-hitting film made on an explosive, relevant as well as controversial plot, ever.
As speculated, D-DAY is not just another Gangster movie from Bollywood as it may sound looking at its promos. Instead it’s actually the first thoughtful film from our makers, which focuses on bringing back the most wanted man to the Indian Territory for justice and simply not interested in glorifying the crime mafia and The Don following the usual norms. Hence it’s a welcome change as far as the subject is concerned and further it has been handled too with an equal amount of intelligence and courage.
The film begins with a fabulous 10 minutes of a well conceived sequence wherein the Indian RAW agents are just about to meet The MAN, whom they wish to steal away back. And then its fast intercuts, well composed background score and the unusual camera movements simply give you an indication that this is not a routine stuff from the director this time, probably less appealing to the general public. Anyway, as the film progresses, the promise of its initial minutes is duly fulfilled right till the last frame in a competent style. At times the realistic indicative references of the wanted man, his son’s big marriage and a renowned cricketer, makes you feel both exciting and scary. Particularly I loved watching the scene in the Mosque, where HE is coming to say his prayers and Irrfan is watching him silently standing behind a pillar. The first half has many similar well directed sequences and it truly feels like watching a great spy thriller made in an international style, rarely seen in Indian Cinema.
Post intermission, the excellence continues but the pace drops for a while with some avoidable long sequences which at one end may please the critics, but on the other might turn out to be less engaging & uninteresting to others. Personally speaking, it was a real treat to witness the sequence related to Shruti’s murder and the murderer washing his hands with Arjun’ shirt, but the sub-plot did have its own problems discussed later. The final moments of the film keep you guessing and then it offers a surprising twist leading to a largely satisfying end of a gripping film. But if only, they had taken care of some visible glitches, D-DAY could have become a winning masterpiece of Hindi Cinema undoubtedly.
Pointing out its limitations, the basic storyline of the film is quite close to the concept of ZERO DARK THIRTY (2013) and Shatrujeet Nath’s novel titled THE KARACHI DECEPTION, which can entirely be called a fiction with an unimaginable Indian mission. A mission or national will, which can only be dreamt and not achieved in the present world scenario, quite frankly. And that is what stops the viewer to get involved in the film patriotically, since he already knows that’s this is never going to happen in the given conditions at all.

Secondly, the added sub-plot of Arjun-Shruti love affair is completely forced in to cater the commercial needs of the project, since a hugely dedicated ‘Army Officer’ would never ideally indulge in such suicidal activities during his important mission at all and that too with such intensity. So when you think about the whole film again, this seems to be absolutely out of sync and doesn’t gel in well with its overall theme. Lastly, where the first half brilliantly maintains the terror of the Most Wanted Man in some well directed sequences, the second half fails to take that terror on to the next level and the character becomes more of a caricature type in the concluding hour.
However, moving over the above mentioned drawbacks, technically it’s truly a well executed film made with some brave and honest intentions. Following an extremely quality narrative, not normally seen in our Hindi Cinema, D-DAY is sure going to impress the classes more than the masses. The art department never lets you feel that you are not in Pakistan (with some great sets and locations) and that’s exactly what an art director is trying to do in his given job. The camerawork reminds you of many well made international projects and never gives you the feel of watching a typical Hindi film. The writing and dialogues contributes a lot, except in the last hour where in the writers slightly go over imaginative and too easy in the final border crossings.
The music section adds a new dimension to the film (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) with a worth listening Qawwali “Mera Murshad Khele Holi” heard after a long time and a well composed, written & sung track, “Alvida”. The visuals in the song truly make you go numb and don’t let you move for a while becoming one of major merits of the film. In addition there is Rekha Bhardawaj superbly singing “Ek Ghadi” to complete an appreciable soundtrack by the trio.
In the performances, once again we have Rishi Kapoor continuing his enjoyable journey of re-discovering the hidden actor, forgetting his own famous lover boy image of the past. It really takes guts to think of him as The Don, but the veteran does look, act and behave like him on the screen, quite astonishingly. Yet, I do wish the director should have emphasized on the terror factor more in the second half.
As the RAW agents, Irrfan Khan repeatedly gives a stunning performance caught in the dilemma, especially towards the end. Arjun Rampal surprises with an extremely intense performance, particularly excelling himself in the song ‘Alvida’. Huma Qureshi confidently manages to find her decent space standing in between the towering performers and Shruti Haasan shows another glimpse of her unexplored talent, portraying a complex character of a prostitute full of pain.
In the supporting cast, Sriswara is a great revelation as Irrfan’s wife. Both Aakash Dahiya and Chandan Roy Sanyal leave a lasting impact along with Nasser as the RAW Chief. K.K. Raina, Nissar Khan and Sandeep Kulkarni act well in their supporting acts but Rajpal Yadav was a wrong choice to begin the film as a singer singing “Dama Dum Mast Qalander”.
Altogether, D-DAY does have its own share of hiccups and some usual commercial insertions to make it more viable. Still, it remains the most innovative, well structured and well shot spy movie from Bollywood (with a worth listening off-beat soundtrack too), surely deserving appreciation from the lovers of this particular genre. But the film also has a strange contradiction as I felt, since the most impressive & emotionally moving sub-plot in its script (of Arjun-Shruti romance), also happens to be the only unwanted insertion in the movie as per its genre. And without it, D-Day would have been a totally focused and taut, high energy, fast paced, thriller unarguably.
Hence with that strange paradox, I would like to recommend watching D-DAY as a must since this is indeed the next step in making GANGSTER movies thoughtfully taken by Bollywood.
Rating : 3.5 / 5

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22 Jul 2013 / Comments ( 6 )
prakash bhatia

Hi Bobbyji,
Again a very well written review. Congrats. I saw this film first day first show without reading any review. My chain of thought while watching it was more or less same as you have written. I fully endorse your views. You are right in describing second half Rishi Kapoor as caricature (I called him a joker).The climax looks pedestrain because of poorly written scene. No reviewer in any news paper has made any reference to second half Rishi Kapoor. But still the film is worth watching. Thanks

Bobby Sing

Hi Prakash Bhatia Ji,
Thanks for agreeing to my viewpoint in the review and yes no one has mentioned the weak points in its second half quite surprisingly.
But yes the effort needs to be appreciated here in this particular lesser tried genre in Bollywood for sure.




Big follower of your reviews.

Of the entire movie, the thing that made me thinking was when Goldman says that he wanted to come back to India, but people in power did not want him back in India. If this is true, I wonder what might be the reasons behind this. Can you please throw some light on this. Also Goldman mentions that he had bypass surgery, Is this a fact? Prime Minister getting calls from Madam made me laugh.
Check the typo ZERO DARK THIRSTY (2013).

Bobby Sing

Thanks Vamsi for following my reviews and appreciating them too.
Regarding your point there are supposed to be many obvious and political reasons behind this which are mostly governed by the lack of will and fear of further tension in the country.
But about the by-pass its quite possible but not sure.......However thanks for pointing out the typo error and it stands rectified now.
Keep Visiting and Writing in.



I think this movie suffered from unnecessary subplots, which you rightly said as commercial insertions. Useless backdrop stories of all characters.

Bobby Sing

Hi Shikhar,
Yes without these unnecessary subplots, the film could have become a great milestone in the genre of Indian Thrillers. In a way it still is in the current format.......but with a more focused screenplay this could have been a great film undoubtedly.


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