Rating : 4.5/5
Genre : Thriller
Year : 2013
Running Time : 2 hours 33 minutes
Director : Nikhil Advani
Cast : Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Rishi Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Nasser, Shruti Haasan, Aakash Dahiya
Kid Rating : PG-15
Well-done Hindi spy-films are rare. If they appear, like Saif Ali Khan’s “Agent Vinod” and Salman Khan’s “Ek tha Tiger” they are cliché-ridden and suffer from Bond hang-overs. D-Day is a breath of fresh air for this genre, because it is a well-scripted, tight thriller which creates brave, intelligent spy-agents who are also uniquely desi. Nikhil Advani, the director of frothy fare like Patiala House and Kal Ho Na Ho, surprisingly delivers the goods with this very accomplished thriller.
Wali Khan (Irfan Khan) is a sleeper RAW agent situated in Pakistan, waiting his chance to nab wanted criminal Iqbal “Goldman” Seth (modeled on Dawood Ibrahim). When he gets news that Goldman will be attending the wedding of his own son, despite ISI pressures to keep him away, he communicates this to Indian intelligence, and soon three more RAW agents Rudra Pratap Singh(Arjun Rampal), Zoya (Huma Qureishi) and Aslam (Aakash Dahiya) are sent into the country.
The four hash out details to take Goldman alive on D-Day, but Goldman is a wily enemy and when things start to go wrong, they struggle to make the best of a bad situation . . .
D-Day is brilliantly plotted. It develops as an espionage thriller with a strong emotive component. The drama ensues from the emphasis on the toll this will take on the agents’ personal lives. We know that Wali Khan in Pakistan for 9 years as a mild-mannered barber, has sprouted roots, marrying and even having a son. Zoya has a lover in England, and has come on this mission against his will. Rudra has a murky past and has holed up in Karachi in a brothel with beautiful prostitute Pooja (Shruti Haasan). Aslam, a small-time criminal in India, is the weakest link in this chain.
The fast pace of the film is complemented by sound characterization and impressive performances all around. The four agents are matter-of-fact and capable. Their interactions are spare and to-the-point. They behave like adults with none of the tom-foolery/gaana-bajana which hero-heroines in ordinary Hindi films are so adept at. We expect nothing less than impeccable acting from Irrfan Khan and Huma Qureishi, but even (artistically challenged) Arjun Rampal does well as taciturn, secretive Rudra. Shruti Haasan has a small role as Pooja, but manages to light up the screen with her hopeful wistfulness. Rishi Kapoor, handed several cheesy dialogs, makes the best of it as Goldman, his seeming geniality, corpulent frame and rose- colored glasses subtly menacing. Nasser is soon-to-retire RAW chief Ashwini Rao, treading the fine line between overt political correctness and covert intelligence operations. K. K. Raina is the Prime Minister, who we see rushing to report to “Madam”.
Nikhil Advani does a bang-up job of juxtaposing pulse-pounding thrilling moments with delicate poignant ones, the most stupendous of those being the gut-wrenching picturization of the song Alvida (see below). Wali Khan’s attachment to his family conflicts with his duty as a RAW agent and Irfan movingly portrays a father’s warring emotions. Hard-faced, stoic Rudra finds himself moved by Pooja’s scarred face. Zoya faces inner turmoil when her job demands more of her personal integrity than she is willing to sacrifice. Her character remains one-of-a-kind for Hindi films, because she is the rarest of the rare, a female espionage agent with real guts and gumption. When push comes to shove, she doesn’t hide behind the excuse of delicate get-me-my-smelling-salts female sensibilities, but holds her own among her male comrades.
I couldn’t see much wrong with this film; D-day seems to have it all. A must-watch, this is so far the best movie of 2013.
P.S. : If ever there’s an Indian film series on a desi Bond-like agent, Arjun Rampal would be the clear choice for the role .
Kid-wise : This film has been given a U/A certificate, but D-Day is probably only suited to kids 15 and older. It has several adult situations of a violent/sexual nature, besides a very adult-oriented theme, so caution is advised for younger children.