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D-Day Movie Review

  • Merkwürdige Liebe

    Merkwürdige Liebe

    Desimartini | Updated - February 13, 2014 1:06 PM IST
    3.5DM (1291 ratings)

    Verdict - It’s rather disheartening to see a subject matter as pulpy as this being dispassionately appended with token art-house touches.

    D-DayWatch trailerRelease date : July 19, 2013

    Consider, for instance, a character from a recent movie which borrowed its premise from true events and offered a twisted, fantastical version of history; the character called Hans Landa. Landa was so meticulously sculpted, with the minutest of his mannerisms adding up to his inevitably dangerous persona, and more importantly, these details blossom into a character who is an absolute delight to watch on screen, not just a perfunctory villain which the viewer is supposed to root against just because he's a Nazi. Regarding the protagonist Aldo Raine, the only hint about whose backstory the viewer is given is the rope-scars on his neck. Now consider the characters of Nikhil Advani's D-Day, a men on a kidnap-and-smuggle-the-most-wanted-Don-back-to-India mission movie mercifully free of a nationalistic outlook, readymade fodder for a pulpy, darkly humourous thriller. For most part, the Don who has multiple identities on-paper but assumes none whatsoever cinematically. We see him only as a mysterious guy wearing red shades whose face fully occupies the area of the red-tinted frames. He gets a monolougue at the end which neatly creates a genuine conflict of themes at play - a cheesy one, but positively so for a film as pulpy as this - but perhaps it's a little too late by then.

    Not to say that it has tobe done the Inglourious Basterds way, but at least it should have been done interestingly. For most part, D-Day lacks rivetingly fleshed out drama for a film where charcters' psychologies and internal conflicts are touched upon and far too pseudo-serious for a campy pulp thriller. The film is equally unreasonable with its other characters too, pinning each of them with a sentimental backstory which eventually results in guilt for each. The problem just is that, with the exception of Irrfan's character, these subplots feel rather unnecessary and one wonders what was the need of spending more than an hour of the film's runtime dwelling on these character's personal lives that don't amount to anything.

    The exception is Irrfan's character, whose backstory actually does amount to something intriguing as the film progresses, and Irrfan is expectedly wonderful as a man genuinely torn between his duties towards his family and his duties towards the nation and the film skillfully walks a tightrope between existential drama and pitch-black comedy. But I wonder if the flashback narration of the opening half of the film was all that warranted. The film begins with an elaborate procedural setpiece about an operation to kidnap the Don, and then jumps into a flashback feeding us information about the four leads, how they got about to being recruited on this mission, their backstories et al, while assuming a faux-gripping tone as if the entire two-and-and-half hours runtime was was but the climax. What I sorely missed was a buld-up, which indeed is present in one backstory of the four. But especially in what is intended to be taut thriller, a backstory with voice-over narration in which the narrator keeps referring to the turn of events on screen in past tense somehow creates a peculiar detachment between the central character and the viewer and takes away a lot of steam from the film. Although the film as a whole is lesser than the sum of its parts, it is noteworthy that the film has some neatly narrated standalone moments, and in both the drama portions and the thriller portions, Advani has an assured control over his craft. Especially the drama portions in the first half are a tricky ground, these portions could have easily slipped into corny melodrama zone, but Advani smartly treats them as variegated vignettes and D-Day has probably the most inventive picturization seamless weaving of soundtrack, a rich one by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, into the narrative.

    But what's ultimately problematic in this arc is the moral stand the film renders its central character with and how confused it is about its own stand as a film. Why is the Don, who is reason for so much struggle and whose extermination the audience is expected to applaud, reduced to a mere businessman, affixed with terrorist-tag-issues and responsibility and a heart which makes him think twice before granting consent to kill people all that blah? Does the film want us to consider Ali a hero for his climactic decision, why iis the villain not villain enough, then? If it's a dark comedy about a man torn between two things equally important to him, why the sappy tone by the end, then?

    D-Day is a fairly gripping collection of decent moments that sadly don't build up to a satisfying whole, an idea is torn into multiple bits, none done enough full justice to. It's rather disheartening to see a subject matter as pulpy as this not being made into an exemplary genre exercise and instead being dispassionately appended with these token art-house touches.

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