Movie review

‘Daddy’ film review: This well-recreated portrait of a 1980s Mumbai don seems a tad too familiar

Arjun Rampal plays Arun Gawli in Ashim Ahluwalia’s latest offering.

The problem with making yet another gangster film is that somebody has done it before and, in all probability, done a better job.

Ashim Ahluwalia picks Arun Gawli for a biopic, a gangster whose hold was mostly over a small area of Central Mumbai. The trajectory of his descent into crime due to poverty and rise to Dagdi Chawl’s “Daddy” is predictable. The big mill strike in the 1970s left a lot of workers jobless and starving. It was very easy to recruit them into criminal gangs. It was undoubtedly a turning point in the city’s history.

For the handsome Arjun Rampal to play the gangster, changing his face with prosthetics must have tickled the actor’s vanity, though he obviously could not shrink himself to Gawli’s slight five foot, three inch frame. (In a 2015 Marathi film titled Dagdi Chawl, Makrand Despande was a dead ringer for the Marathi don.)

When taking up the story of a benevolent don who cares about his people, there is only so much more that can be said after films like Nayakan, Satya and Once Upon A Time in Mumbai covered the entire gamut. All films about the underworld – whether based on real characters or not – tend to white wash the violence and glamorise the world of crime. Daddy is based on the life of a living underworld figure and politician, albeit one serving a life sentence for the murder of an MLA, so there can be no real criticism of his methods.

He may be a smuggler, extortionist or killer, the film seems to say, but he is a loving family man, loyal friend, secular, generous – and all-round good fella.

Play

Ahluwalia has gone into parts of Mumbai not seen before and shot in dimly lit frames; he has also used a back and forth narrative style that can confuse and jar. The enmity with a bespectacled don who flees to Dubai, called Maqsood for some reason and played by Farhan Akhtar, does not quite play out for thrills.

The ’70s-’80s style – the big hair, broad collars and bell bottoms – is recreated well. Most actors in supporting parts are cast perfectly – Anand Ingale as Babu Reshim, Rajesh Sringarpure as Rama Naik, Nishikant Kamat as an evil cop and Aishwarya Rajesh as Asha Gawli.

Despite all that works for the film, what kills it in the end is déjà vu.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The perpetual millennial quest for self-expression just got another boost

Making adulting in the new millennium easier, one step at a time.

Having come of age in the Age of the Internet, millennials had a rocky start to self-expression. Indeed, the internet allowed us to personalise things in unprecedented fashion and we really rose to the occasion. The learning curve to a straightforward firstname.surname@___mail.com email address was a long one, routed through cringeworthy e-mail ids like coolgal1234@hotmail.com. You know you had one - making a personalised e-mail id was a rite of passage for millennials after all.

Declaring yourself to be cool, a star, a princess or a hunk boy was a given (for how else would the world know?!). Those with eclectic tastes (read: juvenile groupies) would flaunt their artistic preferences with an elitist flair. You could take for granted that bitbybeatlemania@hotmail.com and hpfan@yahoo.com would listen to Bollywood music or read Archie comics only in private. The emo kids, meanwhile, had to learn the hard way that employers probably don’t trust candidates with e-mail ids such as depressingdystopian@gmail.com.

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

And with chat rooms, early millennials had found a way to communicate, with...interesting results. The oldest crop of millennials (30+ year olds) learnt to deal with the realities of adolescent life hunched behind anonymous accounts, spewing their teenage hormone-laden angst, passion and idealism to other anonymous accounts. Skater_chick could hide her ineptitude for skating behind a convincing username and a skateboard-peddling red-haired avatar, and you could declare your fantasies of world domination, armed with the assurance that no one would take you seriously.

With the rise of blogging, millennial individualism found a way to express itself to millions of people across the world. The verbosity of ‘intellectual’ millennials even shone through in their blog URLs and names. GirlWhoTravels could now opine on her adventures on the road to those who actually cared about such things. The blogger behind scentofpetunia.blogspot.com could choose to totally ignore petunias and no one would question why. It’s a tradition still being staunchly upheld on Tumblr. You’re not really a Tumblr(er?) if you haven’t been inspired to test your creative limits while crafting your blog URL. Fantasy literature and anime fandoms to pop-culture fanatics and pizza lovers- it’s where people of all leanings go to let their alter ego thrive.

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Then of course social media became the new front of self-expression on the Internet. Back when social media was too much of a millennial thing for anyone to meddle with, avatars and usernames were a window into your personality and fantasies. Suddenly, it was cool to post emo quotes of Meredith Grey on Facebook and update the world on the picturesque breakfast you had (or not). Twitter upped the pressure by limiting expression to 140 characters (now 280-have you heard?) and the brevity translated to the Twitter handles as well. The trend of sarcasm-and-wit-laden handles is still alive well and has only gotten more sophisticated with time. The blogging platform Medium makes the best of Twitter intellect in longform. It’s here that even businesses have cool account names!

Self-expression on the Internet and the millennials’ love for the personalised and customised has indeed seen an interesting trajectory. Most millennial adolescents of yore though are now grownups, navigating an adulting crisis of mammoth proportions. How to wake up in time for classes, how to keep the boss happy, how to keep from going broke every month, how to deal with the new F-word – Finances! Don’t judge, finances can be stressful at the beginning of a career. Forget investments, loans and debts, even matters of simple money transactions are riddled with scary terms like beneficiaries, NEFT, IMPS, RTGS and more. Then there’s the quadruple checking to make sure you input the correct card, IFSC or account number. If this wasn’t stressful enough, there’s the long wait while the cheque is cleared or the fund transfer is credited. Doesn’t it make you wish there was a simpler way to deal with it all? If life could just be like…

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Lo and behold, millennial prayers have been heard! Airtel Payments Bank, India’s first, has now integrated UPI on its digital platform, making banking over the phone easier than ever. Airtel Payments Bank UPI, or Unified Payment Interface, allows you to transfer funds and shop and pay bills instantly to anyone any time without the hassles of inputting any bank details – all through a unique Virtual Payment Address. In true millennial fashion, you can even create your own personalised UPI ID or Virtual Payment Address (VPA) with your name or number- like rhea@airtel or 9990011122@airtel. It’s the smartest, easiest and coolest way to pay, frankly, because you’re going to be the first person to actually make instant, costless payments, rather than claiming to do that and making people wait for hours.

To make life even simpler, with the My Airtel app, you can make digital payments both online and offline (using the Scan and Pay feature that uses a UPI QR code). Imagine, no more running to the ATM at the last minute when you accidentally opt for COD or don’t have exact change to pay for a cab or coffee! Opening an account takes less than three minutes and remembering your VPA requires you to literally remember your own name. Get started with a more customised banking experience here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel Payments Bank and not by the Scroll editorial team.