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From left, Huma Qureshi, Irrfan Khan and Arjun Rampal in Nikhil Advani's D-Day. Courtesy Yash Raj Films
From left, Huma Qureshi, Irrfan Khan and Arjun Rampal in Nikhil Advani's D-Day. Courtesy Yash Raj Films

D-Day

The film D-Day runs out of steam halfway through.

D-Day
Director: Nikhil Advani
Starring: Arjun Rampal, Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan
***

D-Day has been called Indian cinema’s Zero Dark Thirty. While there are plot similarities – spies trying to snare their country’s most wanted terrorist in Pakistan and showing the methodology behind spying – D-Day veers from the Kathryn Bigelow template by mixing fact with fiction.

The director Nikhil Advani incorporates real-life events – the Mumbai attacks, the 2013 Hyderabad bombing and even the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud – but the fictional aspect of the tale (including calling Rishi Kapoor’s criminal terrorist Goldman despite clearly being modelled on Dawood Ibrahim) sees many liberties taken in the name of drama. After a promising set-up, D-Day falls into the trap of becoming a wish-fulfilment fantasy.

A shame, because the story is engrossing when it revolves around trapping Goldman at his son’s wedding. Irrfan Khan delivers a fantastic performance as Wali Khan, a sleeper agent conflicted between his commitment to India and obligations to his Karachi-based family. Advani, best known for spinning elaborate romantic yarns, skilfully incorporates romantic turmoil amid all the brawn. Alas, the same care is not taken with the characterisation of three fellow agents: the mercenary Rudra (Arjun Rampal), the explosives expert Zoya (Huma Qureshi) and the getaway driver Aslam (Aakash Dahiya).

 

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