There are only a handful of filmmakers in Hindi cinema who are pushing the boundaries of filmmaking and bringing innovative cinema to fore, Bejoy Nambiar is among them. His debut film Shaitaan created a new wave in Hindi cinema with his inventive story-telling and ingenious camera works. After a gap of two years the filmmaker comes with another visually appealing mind bender David. Whether this lives up to the expectations or not, let's find out.
The David of 1975 (Neil Nitin Mukesh), London, works for a dreadful gangster Ghani. He considers himself indebted to the mafia for having raised him as his own son and can go to any lengths for him. However, the father -figure image of Ghani soon shatters as ghosts of the past come to haunt David revealing a lie that Ghani fed in his young impressionable mind.
Our second David (Vinay Virmani) is placed in the rain swept Bombay of 1999. An aspiring singer/guitarist, David finds it claustrophobically binding to live up to his devout catholic father's preached austere life. After ample struggle he finally finds a gateway to success as he gets selected for a concert in the USA but right when he is about to leave, his father gets mobbed by Hindu proponents led by politician Malati Tai (Rohini Hattangadi). One incident changes his life forever.
David of 2010 (Vikram) is a fisherman who gets ridiculed by every known person in Goa ever since his girlfriend ditched him for someone else and left him at the altar. He seeks solace in drinking his days away and having make belief conversations with his late father (Saurabh Shukla) until Roma (Isha Sharwani) pirouettes into his life and he falls head over heels in love again. Conflict strikes as she turns out to be his best friend's would be wife.
How all three Davids get stuck in the time warp and jump into each other's eras only to connect with each other is what follows through the rest of the plot.
Ever since filmmaker Bejoy Nambiar announced his second film after the deliciously dark Shaitaan, expectations raised and the stylish trailer of David only increased the anticipation of the film further. The filmmaker prominently uses the father-son connect which was hugely popular in the '70s in each of his stories as he deals with themes of revenge, love and forgiveness.
Bejoy takes an intercutting approach and like an astute filmmaker presents a non-linear narrative with series of back and forth scenes juxtaposing each story with the other. Where he scores an ace is the build-up of each story which moves ahead with an increase in the thrilling quotient that finally reaches a culmination.
But it's the liberty that Bejoy takes in the course is what doesn't appease you especially the end where all three Davids connect with each other almost forcibly in one way or the other. You do not expect the filmmaker to create much ado about nothing and it is just why Bejoy disappoints. The film also suffers with an extended run time. With a 155mins run time, Bejoy appears narcissistically splurging at the cinema that he believes in and his forced climax after struggling to hold the audience attention till the penultimate moment only makes matters worse.
If you keep the flaws aside, you have ample to rave in David. Starting with the Black & White portions of London in 1975 that appear as slick as a Hollywood film and every bit realistic to the rain-soaked streets of Bombay, David is a visual delight. Even the editing by A Sreekar Prasad is top notch as he twists and jumbles the story like a maze and then brings all the pieces together. Yet another department that deserves a huge mention is music. Once again Bejoy stupendously blends the many songs from the album into the film to give an elevated cinematic experience.
Among the three actors it is Vikram's David that stands out the most. The range in his performance from the heart-broken drunkard to a love struck man is very endearing. Even his imaginary conversations with his father are lighthearted and tug at your heartstrings. Neil Nitin Mukesh is next as his screen presence alone gives an impact to his character. Right from the vengeful plot to the romantic track, Neil perfects his act in all the facets of his character and delivers a crackling performance. Not only does the actor look suave but also excels in his restrained yet powerful performance. Vinay Virmani, as the struggling middle-class musician is least impressive. With his visible fake dreadlocks and shallow dialogue delivery, Virmani appears coming straight out of his debut film Speedy Singhs.
The ensemble of supporting actors also adds value to the film. Saurabh Shukla as Vikram's father in the film is adorably funny while Tabu as Frenny shares some of the best scenes with Vikram. Isha Sharwani looks radiant and plays her part well. Despite getting her look right Monica Dogra fails to impress by her performance. Her heavily accented dialogues only make matters worse. Lara Dutt makes her presence with all the pre/post baby fat and barely manages to showcase an expression or two beneath her bulging cheeks. Nishan Nanaiah as Vikram's friend Peter is impressively humorous while Rohini Hattangadi in her comeback is as impactful as ever.
Bejoy Nambiar's David has a fair share of pros and cons but it definitely makes for a one time watch. If not for the flawed story, go for it at least for its innovative execution, experimental narration and stunningly stylish cinematography.