Movie review David
Mumbai: In 'Shaitaan',
director Bejoy Nambiar gave us a deliciously dark thriller, a ticking time
bomb of a film that captured the angst and anxieties of GenX constantly on
With David, the flamboyant filmmaker once again
displays a sound knowledge of his craft, weaving a narrative that tells
the stories of three men in different spaces in time and hurtling towards
their different destinies, but bound together by the same name. David.
to the point of sometimes being indulgent, daring the viewer to follow the
film as it meanders at its own pace, David is a piece of experimental
cinema that repeatedly challenges traditional norms of filmmaking,
overturns stereotypes, breaks new ground and sets a few precedents.
from the opening credits, Nambiar walks the viewer through a month in the
lives of his three Davids — one a brooding gangster in London of 1975;
another a rebellious teen in Mumbai of 1999; and finally a hedonist
fisherman in Goa of 2010. The triptych doesn’t play out one after
another; though set decades apart, the three stories run parallel, with
Nambiar adopting a back-and-forth approach.
The connections among
the three are tenuous for the large part, apart from the destiny-changing
relationships they share with their fathers — one adoptive, the other at
loggerheads and the third dead. All three Davids battle their inner demons
and their outer Goliaths, chalking out journeys of revenge and
retribution, love and forgiveness and ultimately self-realisation.
opens in 1975 with its angry protagonist (Neil Nitin Mukesh) carrying out
bloodbaths at the behest of his adoptive father, a don who wields an iron
hand both at home and outside. Loyal to his patriarch to the point of
giving up his life for him, David’s life turns topsy-turvy when he
realises that his own father was probably killed by the man who he
idolises. Nambiar makes this story the most gripping and meaty, lending it
a Godfather-like look and feel. The delicious monochromatic tones play out
like a noir, with Neil’s silences speaking more than his words. This
story alone could have been the entire film, but somehow it never really
reaches its promised potential.
The David (played by Vinay
Virmani) of 1999 is a relatively weak follow-up, his anger with his priest
father (Nasser) never really reaching a point where it can be justified.
The narrative meanders lazily, with long stretches of nothingness. It is
only when Nambiar brings in the issue of religious fundamentalism —
David is rudely reminded of what it means to be in the minority in a
so-called secular country when his father is attacked for allegedly
carrying out forced conversions — does this thread gather some momentum.
One-film-old Vinay is earnest, but somehow fails to bring alive the
frustrations of a young man ostracised by the system and society.
is, however, the Goa segment that undoes David. Nambiar makes this the
most indulgent, with the uneven and often dragging pace giving rise to a
flabby and plodding narrative. South star Vikram’s David is an alcoholic
fisherman, ridiculed by friends and neighbours after his bride eloped on
their wedding day. David lives by the day, his mundane existence livened
up by the imaginary conversations with his dead father (Saurabh Shukla)
and the heart-to-heart with his best friend Frenny (a lovely but
under-utilised Tabu). His life, however, gains some purpose the day he
sets eyes on mute-and-deaf Roma (Isha Sharvani), who turns out to be his
best friend’s fiancee.
Absurd to the point of bordering on the
bizarre, this episode has neither the energy of the first thread nor the
intensity of the second episode, with Vikram desperately trying to breathe
life into his over-written character.
David may fall short on
narrative, but there’s no doubting Nambiar’s filmmaking flair and eye
for aesthetics. Each of the three episodes has a different look, texture
and feel with R. Rathnavelu, P.S. Vinod and Sanu Varghese bringing alive
chilly London, rain-swept Mumbai and idyllic Goa.
is the star of the film, with everything from Remo Fernandes’s Maria
Pitache to the remixed Dama dam mast kalandar taking the drama forward.
its shortcomings, David needs to be lauded for being a brave attempt at
cinema, yanking both Bollywood and its viewer out of their comfort zones.
“Being wrong is sometimes right,” say the three Davids. In Nambiar’s
case, being different is definitely right. He now just needs stories that
match up to his style.
Cast: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vikram, Tabu, Vinay
Virmani, Monica Dogra, Isha Sharvani, Lara Dutta, Nasser
time: 155 minutes
-The Telegraph, Calcutta
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