Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

July 19, 2013

Mission possible?

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:45 pm

July 19, 2013

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Huma Qureshi, Akash Dahiya, Rishi Kapoor, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Sreeswara, Nasser, KK Raina

Director: Nikhil Advani

Although the last photograph of him in public records dates back to over 20 years ago, Dawood Ibrahim remains an endlessly fascinating character, particularly for our filmmakers who never seem to run out of script ideas involving India’s most wanted terrorist. Nikhil Advani’s D-Day is the latest, a promising action thriller constructed around the long-cherished dream of capturing Dawood, the principal accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

The role of Dawood himself, referred to in this film as Iqbal Seth, and nicknamed Goldman, is played creepily by Rishi Kapoor sporting a moustache and rose-tinted shades. We first see him in the film’s terrific opening sequence, arriving for a wedding celebration at a Karachi hotel, where, despite heavy security, an audacious plan to nab him is underway.

The film’s crisp first-half, much of it unfolding in flashback, sets up the drama nicely. The chief of India’s Research & Analysis Wing (or R&AW) has put Operation Goldman into motion, following another blast in India masterminded by the terror monger who is staked out in Pakistan. A covert team of undercover agents Wali (Irrfan Khan), Rudra (Arjun Rampal), Zoya (Huma Qureshi), and Aslam (Akash Dahiya) have been tasked with ferreting out Iqbal as he gets ready to attend his son’s wedding.

Meshing fact with fiction, often sacrificing logic for thrills, the briskly paced script (co-written by Ritesh Shah, Suresh Nair, and Advani) slows down routinely to show us the agents in their downtime with family and lovers, even as they flesh out their grand plan collectively. Rudra takes up with a melancholic prostitute (Shruti Haasan) in a red-light district, while Wali is deeply committed to his young son and wife (played with aching vulnerability by Sreeswara).

D-Day, with all its gritty action, hand-held camerawork and frenetic editing, is still closer in spirit and tone to Ek Tha Tiger and Agent Vinod than Zero Dark Thirty. The film can’t escape typical jingoistic traps, and doesn’t think twice of forsaking realism for filmi heroism. So our undercover heroes get into a public scrap with an ISI agent in broad daylight, and in one spectacularly silly scene, Rudra follows a man who had disfigured his lover’s face and stabs him brutally to death in a garage, evidently unconcerned about raising suspicions.

But if you’re willing to sidestep niggling problems like the rapidly rising body count they leave in their wake, and the apparent ease with which our heroes secure ammo in Pakistan, you’ll note the film’s second half raises some interesting points, including the very real conundrum of secret agents who’re abandoned by their governments in hostile lands after failed operations. There’s also one remarkably filmed song in which Advani takes one of our protagonists through a bloody massacre of a loved one, as if it were happening before his very eyes. It’s portions like these that elevate the film from the ordinary, and much credit must also go to its committed cast.

No praise is enough for the chameleon-like Rishi Kapoor, who adapts himself to the film’s two very different tones, and offers a performance that is menacing and hammy in all the right places. The talented Huma Qureshi is under-utilized here, but plays her part competently. A quick mention also of Chandan Roy Sanyal who is deliciously sadistic as Iqbal’s nephew and right-hand man. But the film is a showcase for its two male leads. Irrfan Khan excellently conveys the quiet desperation of a man torn between family and mission, and Arjun Rampal does some of his best work here as the rebellious agent simmering with pent up anger.

D-Day is far from perfect, but as pulpy Bollywood action films go, it’s very watchable and works its strengths. The film’s ending, controversial and melodramatic to say the least, nevertheless sits comfortably with the wish-fulfilment fantasy that Advani’s milking. I’m going with three out of five. It’s worth a watch; you won’t be bored.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. Well I think Nikhil should be given his credit, he has made a ‘secret agent’ film which is far more matured than those made in the past. I think it stands equidistant between Ek tha Tiger and Zero Dark Thirty.

    Comment by Gaurav Tripathi — July 19, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

  2. loved the experience of watching the movie……the first half was so taut that it almost quenched the thirst for the second half also…… and then the second half also never dissapoints yes maybe its much more imperfect than the first half….but all the effort that has gone into it,you can forego all its mistakes…….the effort of resarch, and the effort of the cast is really commendable……..

    Comment by nitin singhania — July 20, 2013 @ 12:36 am

  3. Rajeev, i had to stop reading your review the moment you mentioned Zero Dark Thirty..these movies can’t be compared with Bollywood regulars..D-day will get u best action & •ve role nominations at max

    Comment by Shankz — July 20, 2013 @ 1:21 am

  4. My review of D Day

    Comment by Ashwath — July 20, 2013 @ 1:46 am

  5. Thanks for your review, at same time am unable to fathom the fact that some things do happen in the heat of the moment, people are vulnerable, referring to Rddra murdering a person who had disfigured his lover. Those things do happen in real life too, meaning mistakes. Talking of getting ammo is very easy, being an agent u know how it comes. Imagine a vast country like us, our RAW will not know if a smooth operation are carried out across cities, because people do not know what is happening in neighborhood. Have u ever ventured out to get a first hand knowledge of things that are projected in movies, except song and dance, to an extent the fights, most of other aspects is very much ON in our country. Film makers may exaggerate a little but show the basic happenings of our country.

    Comment by venkat — July 20, 2013 @ 11:12 am

  6. hi rajeev masand, nice review about this, still d-day will remain a melo drama not a drama we expected.

    Comment by naresh — July 20, 2013 @ 11:59 am

  7. Good Movie! To sum it up it is a perfect combination of Crime, Sex, Espionage, Violence, Emotion, Betrayal and Triumph! At times as the movie progresses one gets a feeling of The Hurt Locker! In these days of South Remakes in Hindi cinema this movie is such a welcome fresh breath of Air! It deserves 4 out of 5

    Comment by Ranga — July 20, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

  8. In my.opinion,it was a bad script.with film.menadering endlessly in second half.
    They made capturing most wanted look like so easy. The characters of huma and arjun rampal was never developed.
    Actors acted really well but let down by shoddy script.i never ubderstabd what shruti hasaan was doing in this film.

    Comment by Harpreet Singh — July 21, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

  9. Loved the film, gripping plot, strong storyline supported with some great performances…special mention for the song “Alvida” pictured differently (very effectively). I will go for 4 out of 5.

    Comment by Krishanu Ghosh — July 21, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

  10. This movie will be considered a classic by 2027. This is my prediction.
    Rishi Kapoor has finally achieved, what he could not for the past 30 years as India’s first 40+ Teenage hero in the 1990s. He is fantastic. This proves if actors are given a good script, they can superbly.
    Rampal and Irfan are great.
    A movie worth watching.

    Comment by Dr Sudhakar Natarajan — July 22, 2013 @ 11:47 am

  11. Heart melts watching “Alvida” song….. I would recommend watching the movie just for that song…

    Comment by Varaprasad — July 29, 2013 @ 2:25 am

  12. Usually I highly value RM’s reviews and many a times have only seen a film after checking the no. of stars he had given that film (of course I do not read the review until after the movie).

    But D-Day is right down there with some of the worst bollywood movies of all time. The plot is ridiculous, boring and the ending – dont even get me started about that. It literally insults real life spies and all those great spy movies we have watched over the years.

    I am sorry but was a horrific experience. This review is misleading. 0.5/5 stars is the maximum this film deserves. Pathetic.

    Comment by Siddharth Kanjilal — July 31, 2013 @ 12:37 am

  13. i have watched the movie thrice now in spite of being skeptical about Nikhil Advani’s potentially disastrous past endeavors except Kal Ho Na Ho, only this time Advani just strikes the right genre.

    Although its a typical Bollywood movie with a predictable end, however, what makes is worth watching is the pace it holds. Bollywood Filmmakers, whose senseless love for south-Indian remakes is growing at an unconventional speed, a film like D-DAY proves to be a wake-up call.

    Comment by Nirav Savla — August 25, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

  14. This is a gripping narrative filled with a couple of cliches that might feel awkward at times. Still the technical quality will keep you glued in, especially the action sequences supervised by none other than the stunt director of Jason Bourne is a thrill to watch. The best thing about it though is its a patriotic film in heart, and with the overdose of bollywood films that have been glorifying terrorists like a brand of freedom fighters, this is a refreshing change of pace.

    Comment by Dattatreya — September 30, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

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