D Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film
May 11, 2005 By Subhash K. Jha

Speak 'satya'. Be honest. Do we really need yet another gangster flick to come and swamp our lives with a dark brooding blend of blood and sweat, and a little bit of tears thrown in for extra measure.


Gore has become a bloody bore... "D" proves it. If this ode to streetwise violence in Mumbai from the teacher to the 'taut' had come five years ago, we'd have probably revelled in the thrills, as scruffy jobless wanderers ran through narrow gullies shooting guns like pellets at a children's birthday party.


But now, after Ram Gopal Varma's "Satya" and "Company", after Mahesh Manjrekar's "Vaastav" and Hansal Mehta's "Chhal"? Nah, gives us this day our daily break... Enough about unwashed men washing their conscience in the blood of the slain. Enough of this swivel-and-snarl routine with blood-red eyes, slurring speech and smoking guns.


In places "D" glamorises violence with disdainful words and crackerjack visuals to a point where you wonder whom the script supports.


"Why do people look at us as freaks? We're just doing our jobs like doctors and engineers," Deshu tells his 'gori chamri' girlfriend. That's how Deshu's arch enemy describes Deshu's star-girlfriend Bhakti Bhatnagar.


Skin colour does seem to be an issue in the movie. Apart from the exceptionally bleached and bronzed leading lady, the entire cast comprises dark ebony skin tones... the more immoral, the darker they look.


The gangster nexus with politicians and film folks is given a very filmy and hammy twist. Maybe the debutant director wanted to make the gangster world entertaining. He even gets Deshu to bully a beefy film hero who has been constantly harassing the heroine.


Deshu's relationship with the smouldering siren, played by Rukhsar, harks back to Amitabh Bachchan and Parveen Babi in "Deewaar". That's really way back for a flick that thinks "Satya" is a classic worthy of homage.


If "D" equates darker skin tones with shades of evil, then you wonder how much cinema has actually progressed! Manish Gupta's screenplay tries hard to create a grey zone in the gangster's world.


Initially when our sullen protagonist Deshu is getting into crime he meets two ganglords, one a benevolent benefactor (Goga Kapoor), the other a foul-mouthed, menacing morally reprehensible man, who, according to the film, deserves to die.


Deshu obliges.


But the question that the point-blank slaying raises is, who draws these distinctions between 'good' criminals and 'bad' criminals and between 'wanted' killings and 'unwanted' killings? Isn't cinema supposed to get more responsible and democratic about the way anti-social behaviour is projected?


It's shocking to admit this. But the most gripping sequence in "D" is an extraordinarily violent sequence where Sushant Singh shoots Raghav (Chunky Pandey) and watches him bleed to death in painful deliberation. Before Raghav mercifully dies, his beloved wife is shot before his eyes. Chunky Pandey's eyes dim in a haze of tears...Blood and tears...hmmmm, interesting blend.


Applause, but at what cost? It's no coincidence that Pandey and Isha Koppiker remind you of Manoj Bajpai and Shefali Chhaya in Ram Gopal Varma's trend-setting gangster epic "Satya". All through this bang-bang jamboree, debutant director Vishram Sawant seems to pay homage to his mentor's tormenting view of gang violence in Mumbai.


Mumbai never appears as a real throbbing character in "D" as it did in Varma's "Satya" or even "Bhoot". Must we blame cinematographer Srikant Naroj or the trio of eminently brusque editors Vivek Shah, Amit Parmar and Nipun Gupta for this lack of sustenance in the storytelling?


Or is it just that the gangster flick in Hindi has run its course? Who's more restless, the characters, the cinematographer or the audience which feels an uneasy swell of anxious despair while watching these amoral characters play "Satya" all over again?


Though the principal actors justify their characters' social and moral alienation with ar

Subhash K. Jha

   

MOVIE REVIEWS