Director: Ashim Ahluwalia
Producers: Arjun Rampal, Rutvij Patel
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Daddy takes us back to the Mumbai of the 1970’s, when one of the most feared and respected gangsters of all times, Arun Gawli, the son of a jobless mill worker who took to petty robbery and killings on a new level, was on a rise. But, the film does not start in the conventional Gangster film manner. We see various people related to Gawli who tell their version the gangster who came to be known as Daddy of Dagdi Chawl. This makes us wait and gets us curious to know more about Arjun’s Gawli.
Mumbaikars are all too familiar with Gawli’s story. Gawli came to work as a textile mill worker until the brutal strikes and lock outs hit him hard, and then he turned to hafta-vasooli and Matka gambling. He then joins the “Byculla Company” gang, led by gangsters Rama Naik and Babu Reshim and supervised their illegal liquor dens, who eventually became the B.R.A gang. Then, as we all know, Arun begins to have a greater hold on Bombay’s underbelly, becomes the chief opponent of a local don from Dongri (played by Farhan Akhtar), Arun’s rise to popularity, and then he gets convicted of murder, which is what the first half is all about. The second half shows Arjun’s Arun Gawli as a reserved family man who then turns politician to do the right thing.
The film is quite a winner at places. Arjun’s portrayal as Arun Gawli is brilliant. You can really tell that the man has worked real hard on his look and language. Aishwarya Rajesh in her Bollywood debut starts off on the right note as Asha Gawli, as the constant companion to Arun. The people who formed the B.R.A gang, Babu Rashim, and Rama Naik, played by Anand Ingle and Rajesh Shringapure, have done quite a decent job. Also, the cop who was hell-bent on nailing down Gawli was spot-on. Farhan Akhtar’s casting as Maqsood still makes us ask the question: “Was he even needed?!”. Well, we know that a certain Dongri-based gangster played a major part in Gawli’s life, but maybe he didn’t need to have a face here. On the other hand, the screenplay lost us was when certain conversations became hard to follow and the constant time-traveling confused us a little bit. But, Ashim Ahluwalia needs to be praised for this unconventional type of storytelling that he has brought to the Gangster genre. The film does not dramatize of tone down anything. It’s simply a factual representation of the making of Arun Gawli. Nothing more. Nothing less.